‘United to protect’ is the motto of the National Counterterrorism Center of the United States which was formed in 2003 to co-ordinate national and international counter-terrorism efforts of the country in the wake of 9/11. However, ‘united’ would be an oxymoron if used in the motto for its Indian counterpart of the same name — thanks to the states which put their ‘autonomy’ before a threat that does not discriminate between the Union or states.
The contention of the states is that a Central body that operates independently and to which all official machinery of the states have to extend co-operation is an infringement on their longstanding monopoly on the ‘law and order’ segment. In their rush to preserve their autonomy, the states are forgetting that trying to put terrorism under law and order is like trying to control a tyrannosaurus rex with a dog leash.
Whether the ever-politically-correct intelligentsia of the country agrees to call them terrorists or not, we are faced with dozens of forms of terrorism across the country. From the Maoists who have killed thousands of civilians and security personnel to religious/ cultural fundamentalists who kill, maim and strip people of their dignity, the population is being subject to terrorism that takes away the Constitution-guaranteed rights of the citizens.
Over the years, the states have shown a continuing trend of forgetting the bigger picture of national security and giving in to populism — usually based on vote-bank politics. Though the activists who campaign against death penalty may differ, the sheer lack of political cojones to execute terrorists who have been convicted of role in plots to assassinate national/ state leaders and facilitating attack on Parliament may die of old age if the present indecisiveness continues.
If it is coalition concerns from the south that extends life for some, it’s minority vote bank that proves the saviour for another, a third is being kept alive owing to resurgence in his community’s new-found belief in his innocence. One way or the other, regional sentiments have proven detrimental to sending out a clear message on perpetrators of terrorism.
Despite national counter-terror and investigation agencies unearthing evidence of Hidutva outfits in terror attacks, the political leaders are too scared to call it ‘saffron terror’ for fear of alienating their vote bank. The lack of spine to call a spade a spade is an inherent disgusting feature of our leaders who are more concerned about attaining and sustaining power than national interests.
After the 26/11 attacks the country’s security apparatus went into an overhaul, especially the coastal security. In a recently-held security drill to test the preparedness of the system, three ‘terrorist teams’ managed to evade all the preventive mechanisms and reach their ‘targets’. This clearly shows that we have miles to go before claiming to have a foolproof system in place.
One major reason for the limited success of counter-terror measures is the time lost in the maze of procedures and clearances. When more parties are involved in intelligence sharing, the likelihood of leaks and failed operations too increase.
For example, Maoists have deeply penetrated several states’ administrative cadre and police forces. If information on planned operations is shared with the administration in advance, the result would be jeopardising the mission with the inevitable result of massive loss of life for the security forces.
Across the world, the security interests of the country are given priority over the autonomy of the federating units and it should be no different in the case of India too. The current rebellion of dissenting chief ministers is like limbs seeking a consultative process on action when someone’s about to smash the head.
The writer works for Postnoon.
About the Author (Author Profile)
My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.