My last week’s post on the Tehelka blog platform, on the anniversary of 26/11
40 years ago, the Federal Republic of Germany hosted the Munich Olympics. Athletes and sportsmen from all over had come to represent their Nations and win glory for it. It was a relatively kinder and gentler time and security around the Olympic village was not as dense or determined as it is today. On the 5th of September, a terrorist organisation affiliated with the PLO, called Black September, snuck into the Olympic Village. The terrorists murdered 2 athletes and held 9 as hostage. They wanted the release of prisoners held in Israel and the Arab world. Negotiations began and proceeded, but to no avail. Black September shot and killed the 9 unarmed hostages in cold blood. Urban terrorism had reached Europe. What happened next was the stuff that make up film scripts. Under direct orders of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, a crack team was formed –Operation Wrath of God – to hunt down and assassinate those who planned and were responsible for the murders. The idea was simple, put the fear of God in those who plan and execute murders of innocent civilians. And more importantly, the State of Israel will not sit back if its citizens were murdered.
Another September, another massacre. Eleven years ago terrorists, suicide bombers to be more precise, flew planes into the World Trade Centres (WTC) in New York, leading to the death of about three thousand people. The organisation that planned and executed this was Al-Qaeda. The Americans also were swift, if rather misdirected, in their response. They along with their allies occupied Afghanistan to make war on the terrorist organisation. Last year a crack US military team hunted down Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack, and killed him. No judge, no jury, no due process – only the sentence. Once again the message was clear. The USA, as a nation, will not sit back and do nothing if its citizens were killed.
This post is neither about the morality of assassinations nor the futility of war. It is not a defence of either Israeli politics or American warfare. It is, , about the duty of the State. Rajadharma so as to speak. What is the primary duty of the State – and the answer is only one – to protect its citizens. The ability of a State to ensure that its citizens are safe from external and internal threats and as important, to ensure that they bring those who harm their citizens to justice.
This brings us to India and the role of the Indian State in making citizens feel secure. And about bringing retribution to those who cause deaths of Indian citizens, and justice to the families of Indians who have been victims of terror. There is little protection for the citizen, no retribution for the perpetrators and delayed (if at all) justice for the victims. There is no tracking down and bringing the perpetuators to book. There is an over reliance on the security agencies and innate decency of other nations who have their own agenda. It really cannot continue like this.
The road outside the Taj – 26/11 (image : Tehelka)
Outsiders attack Indians in India with impunity because they know they can get away with it. While other nations send crack squads after those who plan and execute these, have their bank accounts frozen and fight terror on multiple levels- India is content in exchanging dossiers. What happened to the men who plotted blowing up AI Kanishka, or the men responsible for the Bombay Blasts; where are the people who plotted the Parliament attack; or 26/11? Hanging foot soldiers is great symbolism – it tells the world we have followed due process of law and are executing a criminal. But, it would be far more symbolic if the Indian Government managed to stick Dawood’s head (or the heads of those who planned 26/11) on a stick somewhere, with a message ‘if you plot terror against us, this will be your end’.