Mumbai Blasts: a lesson

Even before investigations have been completed, Mumbai-blasts and reactions serve as an eye-opener. At the outset, considering it is not the first time that India’s financial capital has been targeted, where have the country’s intelligence and security services failed? Despite their being alert and vigilant, only a lapse at some level may be responsible to allow terrorists to carry out their plans. Let us accept it, terrorism and terrorists cannot be eliminated for ever in a short period of time. Those supporting these incidents may change from time to time. Terrorism has assumed the nature of a menacing tool that can be used and abused by rival countries against each other, by powers seeking to spread unrest in areas they don’t want to develop over fully or to install puppet regimes serving their interest. Terrorism, as have investigations in several Indian cases revealed, is also resorted to by extremist elements for fanatic as well as political purposes targeting the minority community. The political agenda of these elements, as is well known, includes pursuing communal politicking with minorities as their target.

Undeniably, terrorism on Indian soil is being increasingly used by intra-national, communal factors for social and political gains. It is as yet too early to say as to who is/are responsible for the recent Mumbai-blasts, but the concerned authorities cannot afford to remain oblivious of this hard and bitter reality. Every time a blast occurs in Mumbai or in any other part of the country, it also carries this cruel message. Terrorists have still not given up on targeting innocent and unarmed human beings. And as mentioned earlier, this holds true for terrorists inside as well as outside the country. This is one aspect of the analysis. Howsoever vigilant and alert the intelligence and security services stay, there remain prospects of their being caught off-guard with terrorist attacks being carried by least suspected elements. Holding only some parties, usually Muslims (Indian as well as non-Indian) as suspect-terrorists also amounts to turning a virtually blind eye towards other possible-suspects. And till this biased approach prevails at certain levels, how can the Indian services be expected to display their best credentials while countering and eliminating terrorists and terrorism?

At the same time, it cannot be denied that Indians as a whole have become more vigilant and alert against paying lip-service to decisions taken and opinions expressed over the Mumbai-blasts. A few individuals have even written and spoken strongly against Muslims and terrorism. In fact, they have even resorted to virtually assuming that Mumbai blasts could have been carried out only by Muslims and this “justifies” their aggressive approach against Muslims and their presence in India. Legally, constitutionally and ethically such strong comments can be labelled as abusive and unethical. They show virtually no respect for the Indian Constitution, the system of law and order, the country’s political culture and multi-religious secular fabric.

What stands out is that rather than ignoring these comments, a number of Indians have countered the same in the true spirit of Indian secularism. This only proves that today’s Indian cannot be easily taken for a ride by such strong and aggressive anti-Muslim comments. Rather, the spontaneity with which they have countered these anti-Muslim inflammatory comments only suggests that they are more vigilant and alert than ever before in making their stand on Indian secularism and against communalism be heard. In other words, they don’t want their secular spirit, which includes their concern for Indian Muslims, be drowned by communal propaganda still being pursued by several fanatic elements and extremist organizations.

Yes, the Mumbai-blasts and the toll has been strongly condemned, criticized and also been viewed through different perspectives. What stands out is that if sponsors of these blasts aimed to spread panic, terror and instability in Mumbai and other parts of the country, they have already failed. In fact, the phase when there prevailed strong apprehension of a blast in one part of the country leading to riots in others may now be considered history. Even Mumbai-citizens have displayed their strong nationalistic and secular spirit by the way they have reacted after the blasts. They have not let themselves reach the chaotic stage of riots. They have lit candles in memory of all those who have fallen victims indicating that their secularism and humane concern has in no manner been defeated by communal as well as religious barriers. The strong and assertive manner in which they have countered the communal stance taken by the ones linking Muslims with Mumbai-blasts indicates the same. Against this backdrop, India’s secular fabric has only been strengthened and not weakened by Mumbai-blasts. True, the communally prejudiced reaction from certain quarters suggests that their aim was to take advantage of Mumbai-blasts and fuel communal tension. They too have been defeated by Indian secularism. As mentioned earlier, it is not an easy task to eliminate terrorists and end terrorism. But as long as Indian secularism retains its strong fabric, terrorists are least likely to succeed in whatever their aim is!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2011 on page no. 14

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