Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mumbai attacks reflect a failure of intelligence

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It happened again in Mumbai during the late hours of 26/11. Terrorists have again targeted the symbols of urban India with impunity and we are left clueless. Enough is enough! United States of America has not had any terror attacks after 9/11; United Kingdom has had none after the tube blasts but in India it has become a common happening.

India seems to be the softest target for terrorists. Till late urbanites had to be bothered only about poor infrastructure now they have to be scared about hidden bombs, trigger happy terrorists, etc.

In a couple of days, life will be back to normal in Mumbai and it will be attributed to the “indomitable Mumbaikar spirit”. I have the greatest regards for the average Mumbaikar and his contribution to the growth of this nation from times immemorial. Hence, don’t misunderstand me when I say that the average Mumbaikar who steps out on 28/11/2008 will have a mindful of fear. Given an option, he would confine himself to the comforts of his home but he dares to step out only because he has to earn a living and not due to “dare the terrorist” attitude.

I have no clue how many thousands of crores is being spent on intelligence in our country but given the threat perception the amount should be huge. That being the case, how are the terrorists able to carry out their plans with such impunity? I do understand that India is a huge country with a vast coastline and that it is impossible to plug every gap. The law enforcing authorities are doing a great job but there has to be a serious review of our intelligence mechanisms. If funds are the constraint, divert from wasteful expenditure; raid the black money hoarders; tax luxury but for the sake of reputation of this country and its great freedom fighters it must be ensured that we don’t become a soft target for terrorists.

Laws like POTA are a must but it is useful for dealing with the aftermath and not a prevention mechanism. Only improved intelligence can save our country from terror attacks.

The living condition of an ordinary policeman has to be uplifted if we are to be successful in the war against terror. I am not holding a brief for them, but if we were asked to fend at such low salaries, most of us would become susceptible to bribe. Cops should be equated with the armed forces in pay scales and facilities. A constable’s life should be insured for a minimum of Rs.10 lakhs and paid to his family when he dies in action either fighting criminals or terrorists. In case he superannuates, he should be given half that amount.

An elite force has to be raised for fighting urban terrorism. This force should be kept out of political control and bureaucratic wrangles. It must be independent like The Judiciary and The Election Commission. Somebody like Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam should be given the task of guiding such a force. Senior police officers with impeccable integrity should head such a force. Battalions of this force should be present in all the state capitals to tackle any emergent situation.

There will be a monetary price I will have to pay to make my life secure. Most urbanites are ready to pay this price provided the money and effort does not go down the drain. It is time for the ruling class to stand up and deliver. The ruling class should stop using clich├ęs like “Mumbaikar spirit” to glorify the helplessness of citizens’ necessity to come out to work and concentrate on improving intelligence to curb such attacks. Let somebody own up responsibility for the failure and take it upon himself to set right the situation

Yes, I can sacrifice going to a shopping mall every weekend for fear of security but I can’t skip going to the bus stand daily for commuting to my work. I don’t know which maniac is waiting there to spray bullets on unsuspecting people. That is the fear which the Government has to address in a hurry

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Banglaore, Karnataka, India