Terror has many faces


The Home Minister, P. Chidambaram's cautionary remark at a conference of State police chiefs, security and intelligence officials a few days ago, that apart from the well known threat of the infiltration of jehadi terrorists, there is also now the phenomenon of “saffron terrorism” has set off a storm of protest in Parliament. The main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and its ally, the Shiv Sena, have repeatedly disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, demanding that the Home Minister apologise for use of this description. That the Home Minister has chosen to bring this disturbing point to national attention should not be made an issue of partisan politics. Bomb blasts in 2007 targeting the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the September 29, 2008 bomb blast at Malegaon in Maharashtra, and last year's bomb blasts in Goa highlighted a trend of directed attacks intended to rattle the Muslim community. Painstaking investigations conducted over the last three years, led by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra, have pointed to a larger network of Hindutva groups such as Abhinav Bharat, Rashtriya Jagran Manch, and Sanatan Sanstha as being implicated in these bomb blasts. Those involved in these indefensible crimes are members of fringe groups claiming allegiance to Hindutva, their intention clearly to ignite fresh polarisation between the majority and the minority communities.

It is evident that the heavy stakes invested in the Sangh Parivar's political campaign that terrorism in India is linked mainly to Islamist fundamentalists prevent the BJP and its allies from reacting responsibly to what is an emerging threat. Militancy and terrorism thrive on cycles of hate and retaliatory violence. The Home Minister's carefully chosen words were intended to warn the security establishment to sharpen its counter terrorism capabilities in the face of the new forms of terror emerging on the national landscape. Saffron terror, along with infiltration of jehadi terrorists and the simmering Maoist insurgency, are all real threats to internal security and must be treated as such. The BJP, which prides itself on being a party with a strong commitment to national and internal security, must acknowledge the seriousness of this new dimension to terror and take this issue out of the realm of partisan politics. The government for its part must resist the temptation of drawing political conclusions from what is essentially an internal security challenge and formulate a serious and credible strategy to deal with these new forms of internal terrorism.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:19:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/Terror-has-many-faces/article16147140.ece

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