Terrorism: A poll issue?

With the announcement of Lok Sabha Poll dates, all political parties, particularly the two gargantuan political camps – the UPA and NDA- came forward with their respective poll issues. Among other issues, terrorism seems to rule the roost.

Be it an NDA regime or a UPA rule, Indians have seen the worst face of terrorism. Thousands of civilians and security personnel have lost their lives in this ‘war against terrorism’. It has always been a sensitive issue dealt rather “insensibly” by Indian political parties.

The blame game

Now when the general elections are close at hand, all parties are busy counting and highlighting each other’s failures. Since terrorism is the issue which tantalizes every Indian, they have chosen this as the most viable medium to touch every Indian’s mind.

Recently in “Vijay Sankalp Rally” held in Jhajjar, the BJP and the Indian National Lok Dal (of NDA camp) termed the UPA government as a ‘complete failure’ for not being able to curb terrorist activities in the country. It promised to come up with more stern laws to deal with terrorism once voted to power.

The Congress Party on the other hand is not in any way behind in this political blame game, characteristic of Indian politics.

The party went one step ahead to “communalise” terrorism. Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said that Communal terrorism came to the country for the first time in the Mumbai blasts of 1993 following communalisation of politics. He reportedly doled out figures to show that human casualty due to terror attacks were more under NDA government than that during the Congress regime.

What a mockery of human tragedy!

Truth forgotten

In the process, both the camps tend to forget the bitter truth that terror strikes have been so common in both the regimes.

The December 24, 1999, hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandhahar, the Parliament Attack on December 13, 2001, the Raghunath Temple suicide attack in 2002 and the Akshardham Temple attack in March and November 2002 were the major terrorist activities which happened during the NDA regime.

While during the UPA rule, Indians saw a trail of explosions. The Malegaon blast in 2006, firebomb blast in Samjhauta Express in 2007, Hyderabad blast in 2007 again, Bangalore, Jaipur, Delhi blast in 2008, Malegaon blast in 2008 and the scariest of all, the serial blasts of Guwahati and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, which took hundreds of innocent lives.

But till date, it’s neither the UPA nor the NDA which has succeeded in punishing the guilty, during their respective regimes.

Unanswered questions
Let alone punishing the perpetrators of such a crime, they are not in a position to answer some of the disturbing questions that remained unanswered for years.

As for example, in IC-814 hijack case, the entire blame was put on Taliban, ISI and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. But the NDA government failed to probe that without internal support, how did six heavily armed men board the ill fated aircraft? On 13 December 2001, five gunmen infiltrated the Parliament House in a car with Home Ministry and Parliament labels. How did they manage that?

On the other hand, the UPA government seems to be so confused. While the PM Manmohan Singh, after the Mumbai terror strike, calls Pakistan ‘a victim of terror’, the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is hell-bent on proving Pakistan a “terrorist country”. The government is not paying any heed to the fact that occurrence of 26/11 is a proof of the country’s “failed internal security”. When it could not address the internal security failure issue, the Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigned, owning moral responsibility for the Mumbai attacks!

Is that ‘all’ a responsible government can do for the nation?

If we look at the past, we shall see that both the NDA and the UPA have been equally responsible for not taking the issue of terrorism that seriously.

As for instance in 1999, the NDA govt succumbed to the demands of the hijackers of IC-814. The Govt released three dreaded terrorists – Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Omar Ahmed Saeed Sheikh and the Congress reportedly claims that the NDA govt also handed $120 million to the hijackers, instead of taking up a military action.

In a bid to save the lives of the hostages, the then govt of India let off dreaded terrorist like Maulana Masood Azhar scot-free, who later went on to form the Mujahedeen Jaish-e- Mohammad in Pakistan.

The terrorist behind the Parliament attack Afzal Guru, from past three years is on the death row marking time in Tihar Jail. Had he been hanged, it might have sent out the message that India was going to be tough on terror. But that didn’t happen. Is the UPA govt in a position to give reasons for this delay in justice?

Now time will decide the fate of Mohd Kasab, the sole terrorist alive, who carried out the Mumbai attack.

What the Indian politicians don’t realise is that “terrorism” is a serious threat to the country, that has to be dealt with utmost seriousness. They should stop politicizing this issue and work in consensus.

They should realise that terrorism is the common enemy of the country and sort out ways and means to deal with this threat strongly and unanimously; instead of making it a poll issue to garner votes.


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