Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TERROR: FORGET POTA, EVEN POLICE NOT NEEDED!

For the last fours years and more, the nation has been told ad nauseum that there is no need for any separate 'draconian' law like the Prevention of Terrorist Acts(POTA) to fight the growing menace of terrorism. After every terror attack which claims some more innocent lives, politicians rush to assure increasingly cynical and despairing and angry Indians that the perpetrators of these 'cowardly acts' will not be spared and that they will be firmly dealt with under the prevailing law. You would naturally not expect them to admit in the same breath that so far there has not been a single conviction. This is the new definition of 'zero tolerance' to terror.

The greatest 'argument' against an anti-terror law has been that when POTA was in force earlier, terrorist attacks did not stop. This is topped by the shining red cherry that the attack on Parliament took place despite POTA. Mind you, this mindless logic has not been used just by committed politicians looking for any stray logic to support their political stance, honesty be damned. Even celebrated and suitably 'awarded' media personalities have been trying hard to make ordinary citizens swallow this line that only the pea-brained will - that too with great difficulty!

Political dishonesty can be flogged only up to a point. And that point has long been crossed. The Congress and other like-minded parties have belatedly realized that by continuing to con the nation for so long, they may actually have committed a major and costly political blunder. They have not only alienated a large chunk of their voters from the majority community but have also failed to win over the Muslims that they were trying so hard to.

Elections are around the corner. That is why the need of having a tough anti-terror law is now being spoken of again, after the government has slept through its full term. A few days back, Veerappa Moily of the Congress was the first to shock other Congress leaders, still spiritedly sticking to the old party line, when he spoke of the need having a new law to tackle terror. Then the PM himself said the same thing, but there were voices who opposed him, a political light weight. Now Rahul Gandhi has joined them, and all Congressmen are nodding their heads violently to make sure that he notices that they fully agree with him!

The National Security Advisor(NSA) has also gone to the US to study how well that country has organised its homeland security after 9/11, resulting in no major terror attack in the US after that. For years, the NSA did nothing except bloat the already overweight higher ranks of the police that, in the eyes of ordinary citizens, is hopelessly corrupt and unfriendly, and that has repeatedly failed to deliver. Now, when the term of the government is ending, what has prompted him to 'study ' the measures the US has put in place, when he knew all along what they were but did little other than promoting the petty interests of his cadre?

The United Nations and the United States have been repeatedly warning that India is losing the war on terror because structures vitally required to fight it are either not in place or are in disarray. Not only do terrorists waging war against the state enjoy the same benign system of justice that ordinary criminals face, there are other major gaps in the anti-terror framework like inadequate laws on terror financing, special investigative techniques like electronic surveillance and undercover operations, lack of witness protection programs and national database, and inadequacies in securing the borders.

Not only has there been no meaningful national debate on the subject, these reports have just been buried, without perhaps even a cursory reading, only because of the demands of vote bank politics. They are being dusted now, perfunctorily, when the government is about to go. Is the public is so gullible as to be fooled by these gimmicks?

But wait! In the Indian context, there might just be a twist in the tale, something that those in the West can probably not understand. Instead of putting in place a POTA type law again, India's politicians might surprise all suddenly by justifying not only the doing away of that 'anti-minority' measure but suggesting that even police is not required to fight the war on terror! With elections around the corner, that would almost the perfect step to mollify the minorities angered by 'fake' Batla House type of encounters carried out by a 'communal' police. Here are some revealing statistics that they can use to push through this path-breaking proposal.

As per a report in the Hindustan Times of September 28, 2008, for every square kilometre, Gurgaon has 65 per cent more policeman and 2.7 times more PCR vans, compared to Delhi. Yet, it has 51 per cent more robberies and 13 per cent more murders per lakh residents. Could there be more persuasive statistics to prove that crime is directly proportional to the the number of policemen available in an area? Ordinary citizens are obviously safer if there are no policemen around. Just about the perfect logic to remove policemen from all trouble spots like Jamia Nagar, for example!

When terrorists who kill innocent civilians and then enjoy watching the dead and dying on TV come to know that not only is there no danger of POTA, but that even the police has been removed, they will have a transformational change of heart. As a result, instead of bombs, they will go around quietly dropping flowers and fruits for the good citizens of this country! India will then be blessed with not just one but thousands of Munnabhais! And guess what, in due course it might even lead to the IPC and CrPC also being repealed since in over a hundred years, they have not been able to prevent murders, rapes etc from being committed.

Why hasn't anyone yet thought of this brilliant non-violent strategy that promises to defeat terrorism and get minority votes in one go? Come on guys, what are you afraid of? Give it a try...till the elections at least. At worst a few more ordinary, innocent Indians will die.
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Readers may like to read: Rushdie and Jinnah: whither Indian Muslims?