Sunday, November 30, 2008

Countering Terrorism in India – Five Practical Difficulties

Terrorists strike again in India – this time in the business capital of India, Mumbai, terrorizing the whole of India for more than three days. Now after the terrorists were defeated like the end of every other terrorist attacks, we started asking questions which never get answered fully like “How should India as a nation retaliate?”, “Is Government of India incapable of preventing terrorism?”, “What should we do to prevent terrorism?”, “Should we attack the country/ies that aid terrorists?”. We ask a lot of these questions that never get answered. For a country as vast and diverse as India, lots of practical difficulties exist in preventing terrorist attacks. This is a post that looks into the practical difficulties India faces on her fight against terrorism. 
  1. Over population of India and Lack of Automated Personal Identification: 
With over 1.3 billion people, India is the second largest populated country in the world. A majority of the Indians have some form of identification issued by the Indian government like the voter identity card, ration card, PAN number or a driver’s license. But there are millions of Indian citizens who don’t have any identification card issued by Government of India. So it is very easy for such a person to do a crime and go unnoticed. So it is high time the government takes steps to track all the legal residents of India. 
Even if the Indians have identity cards like those mentioned above, details stored in it are bare minimum. India should develop a system similar to Social Security Number (SSN) in US to track the entire legal residents of India. So with the click of the mouse the authorities can get the entire information of a person. Yes it may be an expensive affair but if India does that it could be easy for the authority to follow people with history of wrong doings. But is it practical to have a working system with an automated system with extensive data of 1.3 billion people? 
  1. “Trained/Brainwashed” Terrorists from Pakistan crossing over to India: 
It seems like Pakistan has become the center stage of all the terrorist training in the world. May be the graduates from these terror camps in Pakistan outnumber the graduates from real colleges in Pakistan. Pakistan has taken over from Afghanistan as the epicenter of most of the terrorist attacks. With India sharing such a long border with Pakistan it is very easy for these terrorist to come to India through its porous border. It is practically impossible to prevent someone from crossing across such a long border. It is something similar to what US is facing in the US-Mexico border. Whatever the steps US takes, illegal Mexicans will find some way to sneak into US. Only difference here is Mexicans come to US to do menial jobs while terrorists sneak into India from Pakistan to fight a proxy war with India. 
So is it practical to stop these border crossing of terrorists? Pakistan government has absolutely no control over these terrorists now and the only way India can control that is by attacking there training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). But if we attack those training camps and if Pakistani government who are always soft on terrorists decide to retaliate by attacking India then the result may be a catastrophic nuclear war. 
  1. Terrorist Looks Like Your Next Door Neighbor: 
If you see the photos of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, they look just like anyone you see in your neighborhood, in the market, in the train or in college or in cinema hall. With most of the Indian cites over crowded, it is almost impossible to differentiate a common man from terrorists. The terrorists can easily mingle with the local population as they look identical, talk the same language and follow the same customs and traditions. This is one advantage the Western countries like United States and Britain have in fighting modern day terrorists. The terrorists trying to attack America come from different countries who look so much different from an American and who can easily be identified.  So if a terrorist/group of terrorists comes and takes a room in a busy city in India and plan an attack against India, it is very tough for the intelligence agencies or common man to identify those people as they can easily mix with the other people and behave normally. 
  1. Muslims and  Minority Card Politics: 
I hate to say this but of late this is the reality. Majority of the terrorist attacks around the world are planned and executed by Muslims. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world. It is a known fact that lot of mosques and Madrasas are used by these terrorists in India to recruit more people to the terror network. If any government tries to control or monitor the functioning of these mosques or madrasas the so called secular media and so called secular politicians make a big hue and cry that is impossible to take action against erring mosques, madrasas or people in charge of them. Any action against terrorists (who happened to be Muslims) will be interpreted as a general fight against the whole of Muslim community by the Hindu majority India. That is a very sensitive topic in “Secular” India and government for this reason has gone so soft on acting against the religious leaders and institutions that support terrorists. 
  1. Ineffective Judicial System: 
Does anyone have any count of the number of cases pending in the various courts in India? It may run into millions and this also helps the terrorists who are planning to attack India. We all remember the Mumbai blast of 1993. It has been over 15 years since the blast has occurred in which over 250 people died. Till now Indian courts have not come up with the final verdict. The case is going on in the Supreme Court and God only knows when they are going to give the final verdict. One terrorist was arrested in the recent Mumbai blast. We may be seeing the Indian courts still debating if to punish this terrorist in 2023, 15 years after this attack. For the Indian courts to solve cases fast the overall revamp of the judicial system is necessary and I don’t think it is going to happen in the near future. Another practical difficulty in fighting terrorism – ineffective judicial system that can act as a catalyst to terrorist attacks. When a terrorist sees that people who have committed evil haven’t been punished in 15 years he gets more motivation to do it. 
These are just a few of the practical difficulties India faces in her fight against terror and terrorisms. But we as a nation should be able to overcome any difficulties and fight these anti national forces and defeat them if we want to march ahead as a superpower in this 21st century. For that every Indian has a role to play. Every citizen should help government to make strict laws and wholeheartedly support the government in implementing the law to the best possible ways. The citizens should throw out the thoughts of caste, religion, language and unite in the fight against terrorists and terrorism. Let us all stand united and show that neither terrorists nor any disruptive forces can prevent India’s march towards progress. 
I bow my head to the heroes/ martyrs who laid down thier life for our motherland during the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. JAI HIND. 
with inputs from my friend Jai Mayilvahanan Sivanantham

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi brijesh,
Your bold enumeration of the problems and their solutions are current and real . with abundant human and natural resources resources and the exemplary brains, economic and technological progress is being stunted by such man made maladies which can be easily uprooted and obliterated. Only we require practical as well as compassionate policy makers sans their vested interests.

November 30, 2008 8:36 AM  
Blogger scorpiogenius said...

Im surprised to see some glaring omissions from that list..

What about the efficiency of our Intelligence agencies who are forced to do spy work for the politicians...? If IB or RAW had been vigilant as before many of such attacks could've been prevented.So freeing the Intel. agancies from political clutches would be one of my top priorities...

November 30, 2008 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Sarath said...

Politicizing almost any issue is one main problem. Instead of addressing the real problem in such situations politicians resort to policies which gives an impression that they are doing something. They are talking about having a 'federal agency' for counter-terrorism instead of increasing the resources of the existing police force, ATS, CBI, RAW or IB or whatever. Most probably the federal agency will end up as yet another agency without enough resources and under political clutches.

November 30, 2008 3:49 PM  
Blogger Raghu said...

Oh ! Yes, it is difficult for people to find the terrorists in India. The problem is perhaps : he terrorists trying to attack America come from different countries who look so much different from an American and who can easily be identified. But, in India, it is not possible, since almost all asians look alike and thus it is difficult to trace out the terrorists amidst the rest.
Yes, about the 5 issues that you mentioned, you're very right. They are not really hackneyed, but, at least I'm happy that there are just 5(when broadly classified ). Well, I personally, feel, the judicial system can be improved among the 5, if not the other 4. The toughest one will be over population, but that shouldn't be a real problem as far as terrorism is concerned, however the identification and citizenship can be looked into.
Thanks !

November 30, 2008 4:05 PM  
Blogger Anand said...

While it is true that most terrorist attacks in India involved muslim terrorists, with the recent Malegaon blasts in perspective, terrorism is not exclusive to any particular religion, sect, ethnicity or any such classification.

I believe the first thing that needs to be done is de-politicize, "de-religicize{?)" the debate on terrorism. Bring all terrorists to justice, without any interference from any of the political parties. Give the new federal intelligence agencies a free (but transparent & accountable)hand to deal with terrorism.

November 30, 2008 8:31 PM  
Blogger Babin said...


Two other points i would added to your list that has put india in a disadvantage in fighting terrorism:

1) Lack of central investigative agency for terrorism cases.

India has to stop thinking about terrorism as a state law enforcement issue. None of indian state govts including Maharashtra have enough resources to investigate terrorism cases. Terrorists do not operate in any specific state, they are international. Either CBI should be given immediate jurisdiction over any terrorist incidents or a new central agency need to be created for this purpose as being talked about now. If we do not fully investigate each terrorist cases and eliminate the responsible immediately, we runs risk of worse events in the future.
2) Lack of armed guards .
Constitutionally, we are in a disadvantage to fight terrorist since we our contitutions do not grant citizens to own guns.
What makes it even worse is not even all the cops can carry guns. The ones do, carry very antiquated guns and is not trained for any real actions.
We need to have more elite armed forces like NSG/SWAT teams in every tier 1 and 2 cities. This is somewhere where not just the central government, the state and local goverments should be taking initiative to have well equipped SWAT teams available in all Indian cities.

November 30, 2008 11:08 PM  
Anonymous keralafarmer said...

The citizens should throw out the thoughts of caste, religion, language and unite in the fight against terrorists and terrorism. This is a big tragedy in India. The political parties in India should not allow vote bank politics to come in way in the fight against terrorism. The majority of the people hate politics/politicians due to the vote bank politics of them even during the time of national emergency. Also it is necessary to ban the live telecast of attacks by the media which is indirectly helping the terrorists in killing innocent peoples. Is it possible to the media to report a live telecast of a war between India and Pakistan? Then Pakistan can win easily.

The presidential election in India and USA which is more democratic? Each and every member in USA have a part to elect the president.

December 01, 2008 1:09 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

I was discussing the practical difficulties – the issues like strengthening the intelligence etc can be done easily with political will. That is why I didn’t include.

Raghu – for the judicial system to improve the political will requires is enormous.

Anand –I don’t want to classify any religion or caste and I know some of the blasts Hindus are also involved. But I was discussing the difficulties that exist when Muslims are involved.

Babin – If I read correctly we are going to have a central agency to fight against terrorism.

December 01, 2008 1:11 AM  
Anonymous കേരളഫാര്‍മര്‍ said...

ജമ്മു: മുംബൈയിലെ ഭീകരാക്രമണവുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട്‌ കശ്‌മീരില്‍ സംസ്ഥാന സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥനെ പോലീസ്‌ കസ്റ്റഡിയിലെടുത്തു. ദോഡ മുനിസിപ്പാലിറ്റിയിലെ ജൂനിയര്‍ അസിസ്റ്റന്റായ ഷൗക്കത്തിനെയാണ്‌ ശനിയാഴ്‌ച അറസ്റ്റുചെയ്‌തത്‌. ലഷ്‌കര്‍-ഇ-തൊയ്‌ബ ഭീകരനെന്ന്‌ സംശയിക്കുന്ന വ്യക്തിയുമായി ഷൗക്കത്ത്‌ നടത്തിയ ഫോണ്‍ സംഭാഷണം പോലീസ്‌ ചോര്‍ത്തിയിരുന്നു. ടി.വി. തുറന്ന്‌ മുംബൈയില്‍ എന്താണ്‌ നടക്കുന്നത്‌ എന്ന്‌ കാണാനാണ്‌ ഭീകരന്‍ ഷൗക്കത്തിനോട്‌ ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടത്‌.
Courtesy: Mathrubhumi01-12-08
ഹേമന്ത് കല്‍ക്കറും, അശോക് കാംതെയും മറ്റും സംഭവസ്ഥലത്തെത്തിയത് ലൈവ് ടെലക്കാസ്റ്റിലൂടെ ഭീകരര്‍ക്ക് കാട്ടിക്കൊടുത്ത മീഡിയതന്നെയാണ് ഏറ്റവും വലിയ ഭീകരവാദം നടത്തിയത്.

December 01, 2008 2:17 AM  
Blogger Prashant said...

India is an especially soft target in today’s world, purely because of the huge population of over 1 billion which is almost impossible to secure in a country that is still poor; because of the relative proximity to terrorist camps in the region, and the presence of a huge Muslim population in the country that recently has begun to lean towards more radical beliefs. And terrorists could just as easily choose to attack high schools and trains, if hotels and roads are secured.

However, the reality is that terrorism will not just disappear. We can only hope to contain it. We've been living in an era of significant peace, today. Just 60 years ago the entire world was being devastated by war. Millions of people were dying every year in Europe. South-east Asia, notably Japan, Korea, and China were bombed to the ground. The entire first half of the last century was mired in fighting and killing. Racism was rife even in America barely a few decades ago. We have made a lot of progress to where we are today mostly due to massive economic growth in the world.

I think in the long term, the solutions to this problem are improvement of literacy rates and the improvement in the economic conditions of the masses.

December 01, 2008 2:27 AM  
Blogger Prashant said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 01, 2008 2:38 AM  
Blogger Prashant said...

Anand, I beg to disagree with you.

Look at the several major flashpoints for terrorism recently. Look at 9-11. Look at the Middle-East. Look at Kashmir, which has been going on for many decades now. Look at Nigeria today.

It is clear enough that there is a problem common to all these conflicts. De-"religicizing", as nice and politically correct as it may sound, will never work!!

The first step we must take in order to solve the problem is accept that we have a problem. The Muslim population all over the world feels alienated and we need to figure out why. A multi-pronged approach needs to be taken to fix this.

And specifically, in India, we need to work harder at uniting our Muslim population with the Hindu majority. Education and economic development of some people while leaving huge swaths of people in miserable poverty is driving a wedge in our communities. Look at the numbers - the Muslim community in India is one of the poorest and most illiterate.

December 01, 2008 2:42 AM  
Blogger keralafarmer said...

ന്യൂഡല്‍ഹി: ഭീകരര്‍ കടല്‍വഴി മുംബൈയില്‍ ആക്രമണം നടത്തുമെന്ന രഹസ്യാന്വേഷണ ഏജന്‍സിയുടെ മുന്നറിയിപ്പ്‌ കേന്ദ്രം അവഗണിച്ചു. നവംബര്‍ ഒടുവില്‍ ആക്രമണം ഉണ്ടാകുമെന്ന റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട്‌ ആണ്‌ ഇന്റലിജന്‍സ്‌ ഏജന്‍സി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ടവര്‍ക്ക്‌ കൈമാറിയത്‌. ഇത്തരമൊരു റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട്‌ ലഭിച്ചിട്ടും അത്‌ അര്‍ഹിക്കുന്ന ഗൗരവത്തിലെടുക്കുകയോ ആക്രമണം തടയാനുള്ള മുന്‍കരുതല്‍ സ്വീകരിക്കുകയോ ചെയ്‌തില്ല. ഡല്‍ഹിയില്‍ ലഭിച്ച രഹസ്യസന്ദേശം സാധാരണമട്ടില്‍ മഹാരാഷ്ട്ര സര്‍ക്കാറിനും തീരസംരക്ഷണ സേനയ്‌ക്കും നാവികസേനയ്‌ക്കും കൈമാറുക മാത്രമാണുണ്ടായത്‌.

അമേരിക്കന്‍ രഹസ്യാന്വേഷണ വൃത്തങ്ങളില്‍ നിന്നാണ്‌ ഇന്ത്യന്‍ ഏജന്‍സിക്ക്‌ ഒക്ടോബറില്‍ ഇതുസംബന്ധിച്ച്‌ ആദ്യ സൂചന ലഭിച്ചത്‌. തുടര്‍ന്ന്‌ കറാച്ചിക്കും മുംബൈയ്‌ക്കുമിടയില്‍ നടന്ന റേഡിയോ, മൊബൈല്‍ സംഭാഷണങ്ങളില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ കൂടുതല്‍ വ്യക്തമായ വിവരം ലഭിച്ചു. നവംബര്‍ 19 ന്‌ ഡല്‍ഹിയിലെ ഉന്നതര്‍ക്ക്‌ ഈ വിവരം കൈമാറി. എന്നാല്‍ ഇവ വേണ്ടവിധം അപഗ്രഥിച്ച്‌ ശക്തമായ മുന്‍കരുതലെടുക്കുന്നതില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ കേന്ദ്രവും സുരക്ഷാസേനകളും മഹാരാഷ്ട്ര സര്‍ക്കാറും പരാജയപ്പെട്ടു. ഇന്ത്യന്‍ മത്സ്യബന്ധന ബോട്ടിലായിരിക്കും ഭീകരര്‍ വരികയെന്നുപോലും സന്ദേശത്തിലുണ്ടായിരുന്നുവത്രെ.

ഈ സന്ദേശത്തിന്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തില്‍ താജ്‌ ഉള്‍പ്പെടെ മുംബൈയിലെ എല്ലാ പഞ്ചനക്ഷത്ര ഹോട്ടലുകള്‍ക്കും സംസ്ഥാന സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ മുന്നറിയിപ്പ്‌ നല്‍കിയിരുന്നെങ്കിലും ആക്രമണം തടയാനായില്ല. ഭീകരാക്രമണത്തില്‍ കൊല്ലപ്പെട്ട ഭീകരാക്രമണ വിരുദ്ധ സംഘത്തിന്റെ തലവന്‍ ഹേമന്ത്‌ കര്‍ക്കരെ തന്നെയാണ്‌ ആക്രമണ മുന്നറിയിപ്പ്‌ ഹോട്ടലുടമകളെ അറിയിച്ചത്‌. ഇതേത്തുടര്‍ന്ന്‌ താജില്‍ സുരക്ഷ ശക്തമാക്കിയിരുന്നതായി രത്തന്‍ ടാറ്റ ഒരഭിമുഖത്തില്‍ പറഞ്ഞത്‌ ശ്രദ്ധേയമാണ്‌.

ഭീകരര്‍ പുറകിലുള്ള പ്രവേശേന കവാടത്തിലൂടെയാണ്‌ ഉള്ളില്‍ കടന്നതെന്നും എല്ലാം നേരത്തേ ആസൂത്രണം ചെയ്‌തിരുന്നുവെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്‌. ഭീകരര്‍ തട്ടിയെടുത്ത ഇന്ത്യന്‍ മത്സ്യബന്ധന ബോട്ട്‌ 72 മണിക്കൂര്‍നേരം ഇന്ത്യന്‍ കടലിനുള്ളില്‍ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നുവെന്നാണ്‌ അനുമാനിക്കുന്നത്‌. ഭീകരര്‍ കറാച്ചിയിലെ അസീസാബാദ്‌ മേഖലയില്‍ നിന്ന്‌ നവംബര്‍ 22 ന്‌ പുറപ്പെട്ടിട്ടുണ്ടാകുമെന്നാണ്‌ നിഗമനം.
Courtesy Mathrubhumi

December 01, 2008 2:51 AM  
Blogger Karthikeyan said...

I would agree with Prashant here. Religion is a fact of life in India. It is the integration of majority belonging to different religions within the broader society that would have any meaningful effect, not further alienation. It is more of a socio-economic issue for the most part (there are extreme fringe elements hoping to conquer the world and enforce its way of thinking) and it has to be dealt as one.

December 01, 2008 3:37 AM  
Blogger Raghu said...

Well, absolutely, i understand the political conspiracies that u r referring to, as far as the judicial system is concerned. But, quite obviously, its ineffectiveness wil just cover more than 40% among the 5 points u mentioned.
Also, that the ineffectiveness wil make this still look worse and hopeles, even f the other 4 are solved. Instead, i jus thought, we can concentrate on this single issue, that when solved, can make the situation appear better !

December 03, 2008 4:28 AM  
Blogger Raghu said...

And i just hope, the judicial system can also entrust the activities of central investigative agency for terrorism cases and also provide better armed forces, (as someone mentioned as the other important factors).
Thank u !

December 03, 2008 4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again this Govt has shown us what it is capable of doing.....N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!!! ABSOLUTELY FRICKING NOTHING!!!!! Nice way to play vote bank politics. I wonder what soniaji is thinking.......

December 04, 2008 3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

December 25, 2009 10:22 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Anon @ Dec 25, 3.22 AM
Go Ahead...No Issues

December 25, 2009 4:05 PM  

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