India Also a Victim of 9/11

By N. Gunasekaran

The recent bomb explosion outside the Delhi High Court left 15 people dead and 76 injured. The victims were mostly witnesses queuing to enter the court. Terrorist blasts in Mumbai in July 2011 claimed 26 lives and injured about 130 people. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, suffered a terrorist rampage unleashed by Pakistani gunmen who killed about 160 people in 2008. The city has been hit by terrorist incidents at least half a dozen times since 1990.

The continuous terror attacks in India have raised popular anger against the political leadership, India’s intelligence agencies and the policing of the state.

The government’s strategy to counter terror has been widely perceived as a failure. The common people are suffering from the gruesome terror attacks. Actually, India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram confessed that “policing India is a very complex task,” since “India is a diverse, plural country.” He also said that out of four terror attacks (Pune, Mumbai and two in Delhi) that took place in recent times, at least the first two were carried out by “Indian modules” and he agreed that the government needed “counter-terror capacity.”

In 2002, the government in Gujarat, headed by the Hindu nationalist party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was responsible for the anti-Muslim pogrom which had claimed hundreds of lives. The radicalization process was accelerated after the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque in the state of Uttar Pradesh in December 1992 by Hindu extremists. The US “war on terrorism” with continued military attacks on the Muslim countries and on innocent Muslim people has certainly contributed to the Islamic “radicalization” across the Asian continent. It’s evident from the increasing terrorist attacks in many countries in the region, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. India’s growing strategic and military collaboration with the US, which serves the corporate interests of the US arms industry, further complicated the situation.

The prominent Indian author and reformist Muslim activist Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer argued that India was an indirect victim of 9/11 terror attack. He said: ”Of course there are internal causes too for these attacks but no doubt 9/11 and subsequent wars launched by America are also responsible as the terror industry in Pakistan has emerged stronger.”

While the Islamic terrorists, either with or without the support of Pakistani agencies, continued their acts of violence in India, the Hindu extremist groups adopt a “bomb-for-bomb” approach to the Islamic terrorist groups. The Samjhauta Rail Express blast in 2007 left 68 people dead, mostly Pakistanis.

It was carried out by Hindu extremist groups. And they targeted the mosques in Malegaon in Maharashtra and Hyderabad, and the Khwaja’s dargah in Rajasthan. To wipe out terrorism in India, the Hindutva terrorist network must be brought to justice. It would ensure the secular character of the state and the rule of law and instill confidence among the minorities. Also it would deter Islamic radicalism.

Fareed Zakaria, editor-at-large for Time magazine, in an interview with CNN-IBN, talked about “the lessons for India from American experience.” He observed that Indian intelligence did not have “the technological tools” as the US had. Expressing that India’s counter-terrorism operations “have not been quite successful,” he asked India to “engage in rigorous counter terrorism” like the US. However, it is nothing but erroneous advice. The US practice of treating jihadi suspects as war criminals, torturing them in military camps like the one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and conducting air strikes against terrorists and their sanctuaries, also killing a large number of innocent Muslims from unmanned drones, has already been established as the most inhumane, uncivilized one.

Notwithstanding the fact that India has a large Muslim population, following such inhumane methods would be disastrous for India’s social cohesion and its traditional secular social fabric.

In a note to the National Integration Council Meeting, the Left suggested that the task of combating terrorism can be successfully taken forward only “when communalism and religious extremism are firmly checked.” In India, the enduring social and economic grievances which had aggravated due to the neo-liberal policies of the ruling elites are expressed in terms of religious communal mobilization. So the end of terrorism is linked with the end of neo-liberal paradigm.

In the meantime, the political parties in India have to mobilize the people only on the basis of their distinct political and socio-economic policies and programs, not on the basis of religious slogans and religious demands, which incite religious hatred among various religious communities. Also, the government, media and the people should give up the practice of ascribing terrorism to any one community alone and make them a target of attack and discrimination. So, a comprehensive approach with both external and internal dimensions has to be pursued to combat terrorism of Indian variety.

N. Gunasekaran is a political activist and writer based in Chennai, India.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2011

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