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Losing to terror

It is no secret that India is fighting terrorism or rather involved in the “war on terror”, as some would say. It is important that we get the key ingredients – understanding of the problem, a vision on how to solve it, the resolve and capacity to solve the problem – right. If the politicians who are destined to formulate the policy against terror think they have got it right, they are wrong. Either consciously or unconsciously they are losing this war.

Terrorists use violence to intimidate people into submission to achieve their goals. To fight these terrorists we need the resolve to resist them and not to give in – but our politicians have lost this very resolve as recent incidents would show. Take the Gujjar agitation demanding ST status, or the protests in the Kashmir valley against diversion of land to SASB or the counter protests in Jammu to restore the land to SASB (though their demands haven’t been accepted, they are at least talking!), our politicians have cowed down to violence in each of these occasions.

But shouldn’t the government look into the genuine concerns of the protesters? Shouldn’t people have the right to protest against what it perceives as oppression by the governments? – are two pertinent questions here. But doesn’t the government realize the genuine concerns of its people? Is it that, only in the face of violent protests leading to damage to life and property, the people at the helm can open their eyes to these concerns? Or are we sending a message that violence is an effective tool in order to meet your demands? Either ways, our politicians are inadvertently promoting terrorism by failing to recognize the concerns of people which could be solved at the rudimentary level by peaceful talks. What’s happening in J & K is a perfect example of this. The decision to revoke the land diversion without taking concerns of the people of Jammu, but rather trying to appease the more violent valley was a short sighted move which back fired with Jammu taking to violence too. Only now when faced with violence from both sides unable to cater to either side as both have become violent does the government see the necessity to take the concerns of all involved into account and find an amicable solution.

How do we fight terrorism if the people who are responsible are intimidated by violence? And not surprisingly the terrorists are fully aware of this, which was resonated in the mail send by the Jihadis before recent attacks in Ahmedabad:

O Muslims of Gujarat! If a petty population of Rajasthani Gujjars can use force for fulfilling their needs, then are we even more subjugated than these backwards?

If we are too give in to violence on one side, and then say our resolve to fight terror is not affected, we are just fooling ourselves.


Ban on SIMI lifted

Another nail in the coffin of the toothless UPA government, a tribunal has lifted the ban on SIMI – the organization that the security apparatus often points to whenever a terror attack occurs (for the various charges against the organization see here).  Is this how you act hard on terror Dr. Manmohan Singh? You can’t get the courts to ban an organization which your security forces claim, is responsible for the terror attacks on India, you can’t execute the courts order against Afzal Guru, yet you expect the people to believe that your government is not soft on terror! How many more lives does your government intend to sacrifice on the altars of minority appeasement? How many more children do you intend to make orphans? How many more women do you intend to make widows?

Here is the interview of Safar Nagori, SIMI’s secretary-general dated April 2, 2001, from the India Today:


I Am Very Bitter About Being An Indian
Safdar Nagori, SIMI’s secretary-general, spelt out his group’s agenda to principal correspondent Sayantan Chakravarty:

Q. Are you aware the Government is keeping a watch on SIMI?
A. Yes, we are. But it is expected of this Government, isn’t it?

Q. A line on your calendar says that “Jehad is our Path”. Can you elaborate?
A. Let me explain the concept of jehad as detailed in the Quran. It is not when an individual is harmed but when an entire community finds itself collectively persecuted that the cry for jehad is given. There are various stages. You raise your voice. Protest democratically. Warn. If nothing works then one is forced to revolt, take to arms.

Q. So what stage of jehad do you find yourself at?
A. When the Muslim voice is muffled, when we are fired upon and killed, like at Kanpur, when you find the Sangh Parivar making statements that the mandir will be built by March 2002 at Ayodhya, then I can say Muslims will not take it lying down. And I am not too sure of the consequences.

Q. But the Government is not being run by the RSS.
A. Of course it is. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement that “I am a swayamsevak” has left no doubt in the minds of the Muslims. At times he seems to be shedding tears for the Babri episode but they are only crocodile tears.

Q. SIMI is known to launch vitriolic attacks against Indian leaders. Why?
A. We Muslims, and not just SIMI, do not recognise leaders as ideals. There is only one true Lord, one true Ideal.

Q. Can you elaborate?
A. When we are told that there is a rashtrapita in Gandhi, and another great statesman in Nehru, we feel it is a direct attack on our fundamentals. Nehru wanted Muslims to recognise Ghulam Ahmed Qadaini as our Prophet. He was forcing us to alter our religious belief and we have no regard for such a man. Also, Gandhi is not our greatest ideal by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is Indira Gandhi.

Q. So what is your agenda. Is it to Islamise India?
A. Look, we have respect for the practitioners of other religions. As true Muslims, we always will. But at the same time our aim is to propagate the Quran’s tenets. This will be done even among non-Muslims but there will be no coercion. It’s not like you want everybody to sing Vande Mataram.

Q. You seem bitter at being Indian.
A. Yes. Very bitter. Even in Jerusalem where the atrocities on Muslims have been like in no other part of the world, the main mosque, Masjid-e-Aksa, is still intact. At Ayodhya, sadly, it isn’t. They use rubber bullets to keep protesters at bay in Israel, here they kill Muslims, like in Kanpur.

Q. In your conferences you have openly eulogised Osama bin Laden.
A. Not once, but dozens of times. We believe that he has shown great character in standing up to the Americans, the biggest terrorists in the world. The US made allegations that he was behind the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, but we know that Osama had no hand in them.

Q. But he does support the ISI’s terrorist activities in India.
A. Incorrect. The ISI is different. Osama has no links with the ISI. His enemy no. 1 is not India, but the US.

Q. At SIMI meetings speeches of Qazi Hussain, the Jamait-e-Islami chief in Pakistan, are played. Why?
A. We link up with him in Pakistan through phones and the speeches are amplified for the audience. The Qazi wants us to take Islam to non-Muslims.

Q. Is SIMI’s presence in the north stronger than in the south?
A. We are everywhere, as strong in Kerala and Maharashtra as we are in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Even Assam.

Q. Where do you see your agenda taking you?
A. We are not interested in focusing on leaves and branches. We are interested in changing things at the roots. In the world’s largest democracy there must be open ideological discussions and not just false propaganda. Our madarsas are not nurseries of terror.

Yes folks! Our government can’t ban an organization which openly eulogizes Osama Bin Laden and feels bitter about being Indian. I don’t believe in God, yet I can’t find anything better than the cliché, “God save India” to say. [But the supreme court reckons even he can’t]

Update: Supreme Court to the Rescue

The Supreme court has stayed the order of the tribunal, after the govt. protested with the decision of the tribunal warning of “serious consequences”. At least the government realized its folly in time to maintain the ban.

SC reprimands Karunanidhi

This so called ‘atheist’ and ‘secularist’ had it coming.

The Supreme Court on Monday threatened to issue arrest warrants against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Union Transport Minister T R Baalu and four others for failing to respond to a contempt notice on the Sethusamudram bandh row. [Rediff]

As I had noted elsewhere about his hypocrisy when it comes to Hinduism, here I will rehash it. I have no problem with his critical view of Hinduism, but to do it under the veil of atheism and secularism and then to forget the same when it comes to other religions is unacceptable.

It should be noted he made a scathing attack on the character of lord Ram by calling him a drunkard, in reply to L K Advani’s plea to take back his statements on the existence of Ram. Well, what does this ‘atheist’ and ‘secularist’ has to say when it is not Hinduism? All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) chief, Maulana Rabey Hasni Nadwi had claimed that there’s no room for family planning in Islam. Consistency requires that he attacks Muhammad’s character with regards to women, and point out that even his beloved wife Aisha had mocked his privileges with women accorded to no other muslim, and also the views of other companions of the Muhammad who claimed muhammad’s privileges with women are due to his extreme love for women and sexual prowess, which even led to his contemporaries calling him a womanizer and should have challenged Nadwi for a debate on this claiming why should a womanizers view on family planning be taken seriously? But what does he do? This is what he says in response to Nadwi’s statements.

…efforts should be taken to pacify the community and no hasty decision should be taken in matters pertaining to religion. [ToI]

May I ask him what efforts his party or his ownself, took to pacify the Hindu community on the issue of Ram setu? And why is that he is so hasty in completing the project when the issue is the court?

NOTE: I don’t believe in Ram.

The Govt. becomes the “Scape Goat”

Two Circles published an article about the concerns of a few muslims about the successive Governments. Though it made mostly valid points, here is what I find really funny:

Samina Khan (31) is a research scholar of English literature. She doesn’t see any positive step taken by the NDA government of Bihar apart from the usual steps taken by any government. She talks especially of the serious and concrete steps for the overall development of Muslim women of the state.

She says that only distributing bicycles won’t do anything. She says that Muslim women are doubly marginalized as they are minority within the minority. For the development of Muslim women first of all the awareness among the Muslim men has to be increased to such a level that they are able to realize that the education and assertion of women’s identity won’t be a threat to them.

She criticizes the Central government for its laidback attitude towards the Women’s Reservation Bill, although she considers the RTI Act and NREGA as some of the positive steps taken by the UPA government. [Two Cricles]

Note the qualifiers muslim women and muslim men. I know for certain that the Government of India does carry out a campaign to uplift women. But she is not talking about any women but muslim women oppressed by muslim men. Firstly, doesn’t Islam uplift women and give them unprecedented freedom? Probably not. If so, all this woman needed was to point muslim men to the teachings of Islam. Islamic sources have overwhelmingly established superiority of men over women – they are better off staying at home. Why reform a community which follows a flawless ideology?

For the government, to interfere and tilt the balance, it will have to face resistance from religious quarters. Are muslim women ready to raise a voice against the flaws in their religious ideology and call for reforms?

It is a delicate balancing act, the government must ensure that it is not percived anti-muslim, it should seem that it is working for the upliftment women and not interfeing in the belief of muslims. For this to happen, muslim women should openly acknowledge the flaws of their community and ideology and demand reforms, unless then the blame is certainly misplaced. Are they willing to do so?

Muslim Literacy

A good article chronicling the backwardness of Islamic/Muslim community not only in India but all over the world written by Sujit Das. Though, I don’t agree with every word of it, the article makes a great read and some valuable points. Muslims must stand up to the challenge of modern world and retrospect. Instead of blaming the infidel world for their woes, they must take a fare share of blame for their backwardness and come out from the religious compulsions & Madrassas to face the world.

Conspiracy Theories Abound

The Great Indian Tamasha continues, now, its Sushmaji of the BJP who has come up with a conspiracy theory to keep the tamasha going.

“The blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad reek of a conspiracy to divert attention from the cash for vote allegations and also to bring back the Muslim vote which the Government has lost due to the nuclear deal,… The attacks in two BJP-ruled states in a span of two days and within four days of the UPA Government winning the confidence vote has some meaning and what I am saying is proved by enough circumstantial evidence,…” [IBN Live]

Well, Sushmaji you are laying too big and extraordinary a charge that demands an extraordinary evidence. Talking about circumstantial evidence, they indicate far more probable reasons for these attacks. If there is anything you have proven today, it is that, for now you should better watch your words or still better, shut your mouth for the good of BJP and the nation at large.

When are our politicians going to start using their intellect (if there is one) and energy at tackling the issues of people rather than getting involved in mindless blame games?

The Taboos on Imagination

Thomas L. Friedman writing few days after 9/11 termed it a failure of imagination. [via Offstumped]

That 19 people would take over four civilian airliners and then steer three of them into buildings loaded with thousands of innocent people was, I confess, outside the boundary of my imagination. The World Trade Center is not the place where our intelligence agencies failed. It is the place where our imaginations failed. [The New York Times]

Something similar happened with us over the weekend. Who would have expected that in the wake of supposed heightened security and alertness after the Bangalore serial blasts that the very next day someone would actually attempt to carry out a more dreadful wave of blasts in Ahmedabad, killing 46 and injuring hundreds? Still worse who would have expected that these heartless demons to have saved the most powerful bombs to have gone off on that fateful day for the two nearest hospitals treating injured (from the other blasts), killing the injured & good samaritans who had come to aid the injured? The motive clearly was to kill as many as possible. Never in the annals of terror attacks in India, have there been attacks on successive days and nor have we seen bombing of Hospitals which treat the injured. This is the place where our imagination failed us.

It is time to expect the worst, the unexpected and the most perverse. These are the most evil, shrewd and the vilest demons driven by an equally fundamentalist ideology waiting to prey on innocent lives in order to achieve their evil objectives.

The Taboos on Imagination

Now this has happened we can acknowledge our failures and move on to ensure better precautionary measures. But what about closing your minds? What if it came across your mind that these demons could bomb the hospital, yet you chose to ignore it, you chose not to think about it, not to reason? In any other domain you could forgive yourself of this mistake, but when it is a matter of life and death of innocent children, and other civilians it is tantamount to sin. Yet many of us would do it every time there is a terror strike, even take a false sense of pride for upholding our so called secular heritage, not knowing, we could never forgive us of what we have done in some distant future.

Yes, I am talking about our desperate attempts to sound politically correct every time these terror attacks occur. Yes, I am talking about our futile and desperate attempts to convince ourselves and others with self-proclaimed axioms like “religion has nothing to do with terrorism”, “terrorists have no religion” and all such sooth saying to please whom? Worse still, I am talking about the taboos on our imagination.

The moment some one tries to find or hint a religious motivation for these acts of the demons, the person himself is demonized, vilified and termed racist and is accused of Islamopohbia, one of the most brilliant terms to have been concocted to stifle criticism of Islam in any form. I call it a brilliant term as it deceptively camouflages any criticism of Islam with a genuine concern of discrimination and hatred against muslims.

Mainstream media epitomizes this taboo, the private news channels which are hailed as refreshing change from the monotonous state run Doordarshan and a symbol of modern India, have also failed to shed light on this issue. The most the so called expert panels in their talk shows can agree upon as a cause for extremism is poverty, corruption, apathy of the government to the situation of the oppressed (by no means I claim this list as exhaustive due to my fallible memory and inability to watch every single talk show out there), never is religion seen as one.

I fail to understand what kind of poverty drove the Bangalore born Indian engineer Kafeel Ahmed to turn himself into a suicidal mission to attack the Glasgow International airport or what kind of poverty has driven the well educated engineers arrested for plotting terror and for being activists of the banned organizations of SIMI. I don’t for a moment believe, that the poverty isn’t a cause, we have the red terror brigade, which openly proclaims so. In a sense they are far better that they wage a war against the system they see as oppressive and not against innocent civilians. But on the other hand we have these Islamic terrorists who (claim to) vow by the name of allah & their prophet, quote the quran and the hadiths to justify their perverse acts and draw inspiration from them, yet we ignore their claims. We try to convince ourselves that their self-proclaimed motives are not really motivating them, we just prefer to call them terrorists, heartless demons, but rarely expound these obscure terms, rarely do we exert ourselves to find what has turned them into these heartless demons? How ingenious?

While the few of those in the mainstream media who raise this point are snubbed & cut short by politically correct zealots and faith heads (the channels themselves don’t like having these few, for the fear of backlash) as bigots and islamophobes. On the other hand one is free to state anything in the way of apologetics, even misinformation such as muslims can’t be terrorists because Islam means peace (which it is not, it means submission or surrender, even well informed muslims agree, also see here). A certain S M Murshid, who was an advisor to the governor of J&K wrote in the Times of India, that people have misunderstood Jihad and went to the extent of falsely claiming that the word Jihad in the quran can never be construed to be an exhortation to war. While we can find such opinions occasionally in the mainstream print and visual media, never have I found a single opinion expressing the contrary, as though not a single person worthwhile has such an opinion.

The defense is almost always that such arguments will further isolate minorities and push them towards extremism, with no regard for truth. If so, isn’t it an exhortation against any criticism with a threat similar to those of the terrorists? Is it the best free media in the worlds largest democracy has to offer? While the Govt. thinks it can lecture the hindus what their religious texts actually teach and go to the extent claiming that the religious texts have no historical basis. Our media and Government are somehow extremely shy of even considering that the terrorists are motivated by “Radical Islam“.

In this article I didn’t intend to show beyond any doubt that these terrorists are also motivated by the teachings of their religion rather, all I want to convey was there is strong case for it, which we are ignoring at our own peril. Whether one is right or wrong in having such an opinion should be decided by a rational discussion and not placing taboos on the thought process.

Sun Tzu, a 6 century BC Chinese General, military strategist, and author of The Art of War, famously wrote:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

We neither know our enemies, neither do we know our own selves and how we are going to handle the threat. We will loose this “War on Terror” until we learn.

It is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained. Muslims aren’t our enemies; there are many patriotic and peaceful ones out there, who would have none of this. Our war is with political and extremist Islam that we can’t afford to lose. We need to create a consensus among ourselves, to shun radical Islam, this can’t be done without the muslim community disowning allegiance to Radical Islam.

In the course of this struggle, we may occasionally afford to be let down by our imagination, but never by the taboos on imagination.