NCTC & aggrieved Muslims

What does the decision to form a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) indicate? Does this suggest that the government is not at all satisfied with policies it has pursued so far to check and counter terrorism? There has perhaps been a major weakness in the stand taken to control terrorism. Or does it imply that notwithstanding all the attention that the government and concerned authorities have taken to check terrorism, the country still remains severely affected by this menace? In other words, due to some communication lapse or perhaps deliberately, the government has tacitly acknowledged and accepted its failure as well as weakness in countering terrorism. Now, the question arises, should the government be praised or criticized for having frankly admitted its limitations in checking terrorism?  

Or this is not the actual reason that has prompted the government to form NCTC. With the government already facing criticism on too many fronts, it certainly doesn’t make sense for it to openly acknowledge its faulty approach regarding a highly sensitive and also controversial issue, that is terrorism. Nevertheless, if the government was fully satisfied with steps being taken to check terrorism, the need to form NCTC would not have probably been even considered. Yet, irrespective of number of laws, commissions, committees and other measures taken, neither guarantee the end of terrorism, till substantial attention is paid to actually implement policies already laid out for the purpose.

It may be pointed out, just as terrorism remains a menace for the country, so do faulty measures and lapses indulged in, at times deliberately, in the name of countering the same. What do fake encounters really indicate? When encounters are fake and innocent people fall victims to the same, from what angle can these be hailed as effective steps for countering terrorism? Likewise, falsely implicating innocent people in terror cases by fabricating evidence and securing forced confessions through torture is utterly counter-productive and leads to serious trust deficit as people start looking at each terror case as fake.

 Against this backdrop, if NCTC really starts functioning, it would be appropriate if the weaknesses in tackling terrorism are paid considerable attention. After all, when a fake encounter takes place, in addition to wasting money, time, energy and often several lives of innocent people, suspected as terrorists, this also leads to losing trust of the people. Every time a fake encounter takes place, it also leads to questions such as: Are the concerned authorities really keen on countering terrorism or are they enacting such dramas to fool the people and perhaps win awards as well as promotions in their respective services? The Batla House “encounter” is just one of the many such incidents believed by many to have been deliberately enacted.  

When an encounter is deliberately enacted and is in essence fake and when innocents are arrested on the basis of planted evidence, how could real terrorism be countered? This indicates that NCTC must take serious note of fake encounters and fabricated cases. Strict codes must be laid out referring to penalties, punishments and other actions that persons responsible for authorizing as well as taking charge of fake encounters and evidence fabrications will face.

 Sadly, minimal importance has been given to sufferings faced by individuals and their family members, falsely accused and targeted as “terrorists.” It may be pointed out that the “unwritten rule” guiding concerned authorities whenever a terrorism-incident takes place is to immediately accuse Muslims as suspects. The NCTC must ensure that this discriminatory approach is done away with. When investigating such incidents, the crucial guideline must lead to actual terrorists and not to persons whose only crime is that they happen to be Muslims.

Ironically, much time and effort have so far been wasted in labelling hundreds of Muslims as terrorists, but the same policy has not been pursued when they, Muslims, have been targeted in similar incidents. From this angle, the riots that engulfed the nation when Babri Masjid was demolished, Muslims were targeted brutally. The mosque’s demolition as well as riots targeting Muslims were gruesome incidents of communal terrorists striking at the secular fabric of the nation. The same can be said about the Gujarat-carnage. Ironically, while political pressure led the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh to admit his responsibility for the demolition of Babri Masjid, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has to date not taken any such step about what Muslims have been through in his state.

It is hoped that NCTC will ensure steps are taken to punish those responsible for having brutally targeted Muslims over the Ayodhya-issue and in Gujarat. The guilty cannot escape punishment only because the targeted people were Muslims. Neither can these cases be ignored by being defined as communal riots. They need to be viewed as gruesome terrorism targeting Muslims. The NCTC must also pay adequate attention to minimal steps having been taken in ensuring adequate compensation for the aggrieved Muslims and their family members. The aggrieved Muslims include the ones killed, injured and/or arrested as suspected terrorists in fake encounters and those targeted in the Gujarat-carnage, Ayodhya-case and similar terrorism designed by terrorists linked with saffron-brigade. If the NCTC fails to take these measures, it is feared that this centre’s significance may remain confined to paper and political rhetoric and may target innocents as has been the case by and large until now.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2012 on page no. 11

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