The > arrest and detention of at least 18 people from across the country by the National Investigation Agency and the Delhi Police over the last few days for their alleged terror plans and > sympathies to the Islamic State is a stark warning that the authorities need to be on heightened alert. The Delhi Police caught four young men from Uttarakhand, while the rest have been arrested by the NIA from across India. Both groups are accused of planning to carry out major terrorist attacks. The NIA believes that the 14 men in its custody were in the process of organising a training camp to prepare for multiple > attacks against domestic and foreign targets . Officials say that both the arrested groups had been in touch with Shafi Armar alias Yusuf, who heads a terrorist group named > Ansar-ul-Tawhid that is aligned with the Islamic State and has former members of the Indian Mujahideen in its ranks. This is a clear indication that the IS is no more a danger lurking in some distant land. In fact, next-door Bangladesh has already witnessed a few > lone-wolf attacks suspected to have been carried out by IS sympathisers.
The authorities now have the challenge of identifying terrorist modules, and possible lone wolves, without allowing any attendant excesses. Real-life investigations are painstaking tasks, and the Indian agencies have often failed in due diligence on that front. Therefore it is important that the government keep a close watch to ensure that the NIA and the Delhi Police carry out transparent and professional investigations into the recent arrests. That will ensure public safety and also protect the individual liberty of those accused of terror, but pending a fair trial. Experience worldwide has shown that the perception game is practically won or lost while dealing with terrorist suspects. The investigations must be time-bound and chargesheets must be filed within a reasonable timeframe. A >quick trial is advisable — to showcase that India has an uncompromising posture against terrorism and will hand out punishments without any delay and swiftly, while protecting the constitutional rights of each of its resident. Showcasing such a balanced approach towards terrorism is also very important to send out the message to the aggrieved and those influenced by violent ideologies that Indian democracy is their best bet for a fair life. Young people drawn to various waves of violence through history have mostly been individuals harbouring a perceived strong sense of grievance against the state. Their violent activities are a response to what they believe to be injustices inflicted by the powerful. In India, there have been three distinct waves of domestic Islamist terrorism since the early 1990s. There is no better way of addressing the grave threat posed by young citizens drawn to extremist, violent ideologies than a fair, transparent and swift trial.