Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bomb blasts in Delhi: Seems to go on and on

It seems like we are living in a B-grade movie about some invisible hands deciding to blow up things all over the country, and soon you have explosions happening on a regular basis in various cities over the country; and on the movie theme, the politicians the police are either involved, or are incompetent. Well, guess what, this is not a movie. Terrorists are cocking a snook at the country, and the incompetent Central Government can do nothing but mount platitudes about how 'This is a great tragedy', 'We need a central agency for terror prevention', 'These things will be properly investigated and the culprits brought to trial', and so on. You must have heard of all of these ?
And we move on. There have been so many bomb blasts that happen nowadays that we are temporarily shocked by the carnage that happens, by the inability of the police to catch these people (even when it seems that a large number of people would be involved due to the number of simultaneous blasts), and then we all forget about it. I can remember a time when the transistor bombs in Delhi buses had shaken everybody, and now we routinely get bomb attacks in which more 10's of people die, and ... we move on.
What do we see the Government doing ? Well, I am sure that the intelligence agencies will be doing something, but the fact is that, in a federal structure such as ours, there are a number of different central and state level intelligence agencies (as well as the very weak intelligence network of the police); as a result, unless there is effective coordination, things are not going to work together. And who is responsible for doing this coordination ? There are primarily 2 gentleman at different levels for this - one is the National Security Advisor (Mr. Narayanan, who is unable to stem the rot in RAW, and unable to get the Government to reform things so that people find working in the intelligence services rewarding career wise).
The other is the Home Minister - Mr. Shivraj Patil. If India had ever had a home minister who was more low-profile, and unable to make a mark, it is difficult to find one. It is during his time that we have had a massive escalation in the security problems in the country (with more bomb blasts than ever before); the enduring image of him from the time of the Gujarat blasts is of him trying to prevent his clothes from getting dirty during the rain. It was telling on the state of confidence in the central Government that the Gujrat police was the one that seemingly cracked the terrorist blast cases of Surat and Ahemdabad without much support from the center. When he is asked a pointed question about the terrorist cases, even Congressmen would not be surprised if he says stuff such 'we are investigating', 'we cannot blame others', 'current laws are fine to handle terrorist cases', or more mournfully 'we need a central agency, but the states are not cooperating'. Given the rampant misuse of the CBI by the Congress, it is not hard to see why the states do not want to trust a Central Congress Government with a central powerful anti-terrorist agency.
What is the solution ? Steps like the Deoband school declaring such bomb blasts as anti-Islamic help, and some more intense investigation with inter-agency cooperation would help to solve these immediate cases; but there is a total lack of long term steps as propounded by many experts:
1. Get beat constables to go around the neighborhoods more often
2. Make intelligence wings of the police more lucrative to join
3. Prevent politicisation of anti-terrorist efforts
4. Make safety more important (for example, today I had gone to the Lajpat Nagar market in Delhi - a fairly crowded place). In the central market, there is cordoning off and entry is only through a walk-in bomb detector gate, but the effect was gone. The gate was not working, and there were no policemen nearby. In India's crowded and culturally mixed population, it is hard to detect potential terrorists, but at least things should not be made easy for them)

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:44 AM