If media is quiet about attacks, terrorism will end: Doval cites Thatcher

The National Security Adviser says the approach of the judiciary to treat terror crimes at par with ordinary crimes is one of the major challenges.

October 14, 2019 12:31 pm | Updated 07:30 pm IST - New Delhi

Ajit Doval. File

Ajit Doval. File

National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval said on October 14 that the “approach of judiciary to treat terror crimes at par with ordinary crimes” was one of the major challenges. On the need for a change in media policy, he cited former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to opine that “if a terrorist take[s] action and the media is quiet about it, terrorism will end”.

Mr. Doval was addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference of Chiefs of Anti Terror Squads/Special Task Force organised by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Home Minister Amit Shah was to address the session but he opted out at the last moment due to “unavoidable reasons”.

Explaining the challenges in investigating terrorism-related cases, Mr. Doval said, “The approach of the judiciary to treat terrorism cases at par with ordinary crimes — they apply the same benchmark and standards... building up the cases... where do you get the eyewitnesses in terror cases? Very few... and secondly who will dare come and depose? It is difficult for any ordinary citizen to come [into] a court of law and depose against a dreaded Jaish or Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terrorist. And I want to compliment NIA that has withstood these challenges.”

He also pitched for a strong perception management in fighting terrorism.

“Media is a very important organ to fight terrorism. Why do terrorists kill? As Margaret Thatcher said, if a terrorist take action and the media is quite about it, terrorism will end. They do it for publicity, because then only you can terrorise people. If 10 people are killed somewhere and nobody comes to know about it, nobody is terrorised. Somebody’s son is kidnapped and killed, then a mother sitting 500 miles away is terrorised, could it happen to my son also? But if she doesn’t come to know about it, it doesn’t happen. This is why we have to change our media policy, become more transparent, take them into confidence. And when we don’t tell them anything they probably speculate at times, which creates more terror in society. So, perception management is important,” Mr. Doval said.

Mr. Doval said that Pakistan had made sponsorship of terrorism an instrument of state policy.

Lauding the efforts of India at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Mr. Doval said, “Biggest pressure on Pakistan is from FATF. If you can collect evidence and share... Everyone knows Pakistan supports and finances terror. Only you people [ATS/STF/NIA] can collect evidence. We are not targeting one country. Don’t destroy evidence, use them... how we did against Pakistan. Give it to media.”

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