Thursday, July 13, 2006

Target the Real Terrorists

I had always treated the blog as an outlet for my drunken or sentimental ramblings: a stray thought crosses your mind and you develop it into a 500- or a 1000-word post, depending on how strongly you feel about a subject. Since I am a professional journalist, I keep hardcore journalism out of my blog because I reserve that for my paper. For me, the blog is a personal space where I can write stuff that I can't write for the paper.

But the fact that blogs can be a powerful -- and a parallel -- means of journalism hit me only after the recent Mumbai blasts. A newspaper can come out only the next morning, while our nascent news channels -- even though they update themselves on an hourly basis -- have their own 'exclusivity' to tom-tom about. But the blogger is honest -- he is the layman who has been in the middle of it: he has no axe to grind, he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to tom-tom. That is why you could find the best coverage of the Mumbai blasts in blogdom -- I feel sorry for people who missed out on it because of their ignorance about blogs.

Within hours of the blasts, Neha Viswanathan put together various bloggers' accounts of the tragedy -- a challenging task indeed; while another blogger, Bongopondit, exposed the hollowness of the New York Times correspondent's reportage of the blasts. Sites like Desipundit and Ultrabrown also put together several first-hand accounts of the carnage.

I too wrote a post which, fortunately, was cited by a few of these well-known bloggers/blogsites. But the unfortunate part is that not many readers agreed with my point of view that terrorism is a menace that can be fought not by force but only by looking into the cause that turns a human being into a terrorist. A couple of them expressed their disagreement in their comments to my post, a few people emailed me to say that they did not agree with me, and some condemned me over telephone. But I still hold to my view: No one is born a terrorist. That does not mean I support terrorism: bloody hell, the woman I married barely two months ago could have been one of the victims -- she happened to be in Bombay that evening.

The point is, when a state or a superpower perpetrates terrorism, no one notices it. The United States has perpetrated terrorism and violence in every conceivable corner of the world, but no one talks about its murderous ways. It supplied weapons to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, but today it is all set to get Saddam executed after a totally meaningless war: nobody has found the weapons of mass destruction. So who accounts for the lives of innocent Iraqis killed in the war? Saddam is facing a trial, but will anyone ever try George Bush for killing hundreds of people in a name of deadly weapons that were never found? So does killing of human beings amount to terrorism only when the killing is ordered/plotted by Muslims?

Today, Indians are condemning terrorism and calling for retaliatory action against the terrorists. BJP leader L K Advani has called for stringent anti-terrorism laws. But they are forgetting one basic thing: the terrorist is not a recognisable criminal like the legendary Gabbar Singh or the other dacoits they show in the Hindi movies. In the movies, you kill the dacoit and you kill his menace. But the terrorist is an unknown face: he could even be your neighbour. And most committed terrorists are often suicide bombers: they are people who kill themselves to kill others. Do you think even the strictest of anti-terrorism laws will deter them? An anti-terrorism law can only make lives miserable of people who are booked under mere suspicion. And it doesn't take much to be under the needle of suspicion: you only have to be a Muslim who happens to have dowloaded Google Earth just to see how the satellite images of your country look like.

And even in cases where acts of terrorism have had a definite face, nothing has been -- or could have been -- done to bring the perpretators to book. Dawood Ibrahim is said to be the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, but he continues to be part of folklore. The LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi, but Prabhakaran is now talking politics with India. And the DMK, which was sympathetic to the LTTE's cause -- the same sympathy which led to the Gujral government being pulled by the Congress in 1997 -- is today a very close ally of Rajiv's widow Sonia. Prabhakaran, by the way, was promoted by Rajiv Gandhi at one point; just as Bhindranwale, the mastermind of terrorism in Punjab, was promoted by Indira Gandhi to take on the Akali Dal. Indira Gandhi had to pay with her life.

End of the day, it all boils down to petty politics and politicians and their egos and ambitions and their insecurities. Politicians are the real face of terrorism. The terrorist who actually kills is a poor, faceless man, and the man who gets killed is also faceless and poor. They only end up being part of statistics. In a few days from now, after the public anger has fully subsided, Tuesday's blasts in Mumbai will silently become part of a continuing chronology. Life will go on.

8 comments:

Maya said...

BG, I totally agree with you. While I want to wipe out from the face of this earth all terrorists, so that it is safe for my kids, I know that injustice in any form can create anger, vengeance and terror. Different people vent it differently and the terrorists who destroy almost unscrupulously innocent people are obviously not of sane mind> They people totally insane with anger. And we have enough evidence on how destructive anger can me. Let’s not pretend we have never gotten angry or have always acted with respect for others when we are angry. Perhaps if we could get all these angry people and give them therapy/counseling, it might work.

But as you said in the earlier blog...let's root out the causes and for chrissakes let's be just with the perpetrators, be it the Prez of the US or the local politician. No one can stand the moral high ground and hope to be opaque. This is the 21st century and we can see and hear things which were one time privy to the ‘elite’ few in power. Yes, all ARE equal before the law as they should be. Whether politicians make deals or incite violence directly or indirectly, they are the major culprits. It’s a pity that today we are left with absolutely no leaders or heads of states who are worthy of being called leaders or are statesmen. They are rhetoricians out to get rich and as a hobby abuse the powers of their office. Wield your pen, I say! In the mainstream media.

We are definitely NOT supporters of terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we are going to support blindly the callous people in power. They create the demons and then we have all to collectively pay for it!

Maya said...

OK that was written with passion remnant of my rebellious years where I hated authority that wasn't just or dominated me thru sheer superiority of strength or power. But now I make a sincere appeal to the terrorist - I understand your hate and anger and the need for violence..to lash out at a world that took away your loved ones, decimated your life and those who meant something to you. I empathize with this anger that wells in you and digs deeper and deeper until you want to explode and in that ghastly explosion take with you others. I besiege you that these are innocent people and your misdirected anger is as spurious and unjust as those who had been responsible in making you suffer. You have no respect for others’ life because they didn’t have any for you or yours, you say? Yes, the people who have treated you callously deserve to be punished. I absolutely agree. But blowing off innocent people isn’t the way. Surely you know that the guilty people, towards whom your anger should be rightfully target at, are sitting comfortably in their homes or offices, and watching the news. The innocents you have killed are mere statistics. There is little compunction for the people in power who believe the means justifies the end – an end which keeps them powerful, rich and happy for as long as possible. They have no qualms for the lives they have directly or indirectly destroyed.

The right way is to take away from them the power that has made them into megalomaniacs. We still have the power to do so. While they maybe be masquerading as champions of democracy and on a sinister silent indulge in heinous acts...we DO have the power to 'get rid' of this people if we stood united and used the offices and structure of democracy to fight them. Let us not take innocent lives. They do not deserve to die just because your family did. Two wrongs never made a right and it never will. Please, I beg you… stop the acts of terror.... no life is useless or hopeless to be taken away in the appalling manner that terrorism does. I am certain that in each of us lie the need for love – to love and be loved. Let us manifest this true gift and learn to forgive. We sdhall not forget because remembering the wrongs will help us in working consistently towards changing the system that keeps people who are corrupted in place. Let us collectively fight systems and end the reign of terror of mean politicians. We have the power – lessons from history are testaments to this conviction.

Stop the destruction of innocent lives and channel your energies to extract justice in a manner that glorifies life, not destroys it.

Megha Bansal said...

So does this mean that the terrorist who lurks in Kashmir, killing innocent people coz he wants his freedom is fine, and we shud actually go and target the govt. who is responsible for making this guy a terrorist? I dont really think so, so doesnt this guy have any scrupples? any emotions that he is going and killing these innocent people?

Have u read that the people involved in the 93 blasts were highly educated people, MD, MS, MBA and such...

Bishwanath, I completely agree that the heads of states who have helped in the creation of these people are equally responsible...but these anti-social elements have to be stopped...for the sake of the common man, the women who comes to clean your house, the guard who guards your building, the fellow commuter in the local bus and so many many more....

ravi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dazedandconfused said...

Oh, that's great! Let's blame everything on the politicians...

Anu Russell said...

dazedandconfused...

I for one is sure that mot of politicians knew about the impending danger...come on such a big operation cannot work out without support from police/politicians and other law makers/inforcers!

But again...Can we eradicate terrorism? I do not think so...Can we prevent it? Maybe...

I agree with a few things that you say and a few things not so...but I wouldn't scream at your for expressing your opinions!

Usha said...

I agree with your viewpoint.We must stop practising politics that fosters division among people, we must stop alieneating people based on biases of perceptions. We must target the disease and not the symptoms.

indscribe said...

Couldn't agree more. Very well-written.