ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Not by Policing Alone

By giving the police arbitrary powers, special laws to combat terrorism will only exacerbate it.

Serial blasts like the recent ones in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad (where the ruthless terrorists did not even spare a hospit al) perhaps no longer sur prise t he much-bat tered I ndian public who have learnt to live with terrorism during the last several years. I n a similar mood of familiarit y t hat almost borders on the blasé, Indian politicians and opinion-makers of all hues have reacted to the latest incidents with the predictable ritualistic rhetoric. The opposition blames the ruling party and vice versa, each seeking political mileage. But both echo one common refrain: strengthen the muscles of the security and intelligence agencies and pass more stringent policing laws.

he new-found remedy is a proposed federal agency under the centre to investigate all terrorist activities across the country. This has been mooted by intelligence officials in New Delhi who had been blaming the state governments for ignoring their warnings about terrorist attacks and complaining about a lack of coordination between state and central intelligence agencies. The desire to centralise anti-terrorist operations is viewed with suspicion by state governments as an attempt to curb their powers. Even the most vociferous anti-terrorist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister Narendra Modi would feel a bit insecure – not quite sure whether a central agency under the aegis of a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government would allow his police officers to enjoy the power to kill an innocent Muslim in a false encounter and pass him off as a dreaded terrorist. His leader L K Advani, commenting on the proposal, therefore sidelined it as a “debatable issue”, during his post-blast visit to Ahmedabad. But adding to his monotonous demand for the revival of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Advani urged president Pratibha Patil to give assent to a similar draconian bill framed by Narendra Modi for Gujarat that is pending before her. He implied that had that bill been enacted, Modi could have surely nipped in the bud the conspiracy behind the Ahmedabad blasts. One can understand the BJP’s dilemma. Claiming to be the best qualified warrior against “Islamic terrorism”, it finds itself in a tight corner – with the most devastating terrorist attacks having taken place in states ruled by it. Blaming the centre for revoking POTA does not cut much ice. Even during its rule in New Delhi, POTA did not help it from preventing the terrorist attacks on Parliament, or Akshardham and other places. Despite such measures in the past, common citizens from all religious communities had been regular victims of indiscriminate terrorist attacks – whether under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the UPA regime.

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