Fear is not the key

INVARIABLY, the real tragedy of violence is more than a mere tragedy of numbers. And that is reason enough for the Indian government to now act more decisively than ever before against the kind of brazen terror attacks witnessed in Bangalore and Ahmedabad within a short span of 48 hours.

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Published: Mon 28 Jul 2008, 9:51 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:03 PM

What the Indian government can, and must, do to effectively counter (if not pre-empt) such horrific acts of terror is known. What is not very clear is why successive governments have failed over the years to do just that.

One suggestion, which has been reiterated yet again by the Leader of the Opposition in parliament L K Advani and others, is that a separate apex counter-terrorism agency should be created to deal specifically with counter- terrorism.

Any such federal agency, as has rightly been pointed out by security experts, should be tasked with handling internal security issues across the states and union territories. A whole new counter-terrorism strategy needs to be drafted in coordination with local security and law enforcement authorities in the states.

Friday's serial bomb blasts in Bangalore followed by similar attacks in Ahmedabad the next day, which collectively left scores dead and over a hundred injured, have exposed the government's total inability to deal with such a situation.

The wider the ambit of fear and chaos and the greater the loss of innocent lives resulting from such terror attacks, the more determined should be the ruling Congress-led coalition in New Delhi to counter it. But that apparently is hardly the case.

Adding to the absurdity of it all is the federal government's claim that they were aware that terrorists might target select metropolitan cities. If that were true, then surely both the federal and state governments concerned should also have been better prepared to counter the threat.

What is equally clear is that the absence of strong legislation and a low, almost negligible prosecution rate of those involved in terror activities have compounded the problem.

If the more than a dozen major terror attacks across India in the past five years are not enough to stir a government into action we shudder to think what is?

What also needs to be well understood by politicians, irrespective of whether they occupy the treasury or the opposition benches, is that it's time they stopped bickering and blaming each other and exploiting the situation to score petty political points. Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology that differentiates between caste, colour, class or community.

Also, the government should be more concerned about what now rather than what next.

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