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Mission diabolique

Mission diabolique

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 2, 2001

The arrest of three persons in the parking area of the Lodhi Gardens on Monday night provides yet another reminder of the kind of threat Delhi continues to face from Pakistan-based terrorist outfits. It also vindicates the Government's stand, reiterated once again during the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's recent visit to India, that there can be no dialogue with Islamabad until the latter ends its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism against India.

Monday night's arrest shows that far from ending trans-border terrorism, Pakistan is trying to go in for increasingly dramatic and savage strikes. This is clearly reflected in the mission of the terrorists, who are linked to the Jihad-e-Islami (JeI) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and who planned to remain hidden in the Lodhi Gardens at night and strike in the morning when the place is crowded with VIP morning walkers. Needless to say, there would have been widespread panic and feeling of alarm had they succeeded in their mission, killing and wounding a number of VIPs. This in turn would have boosted the morale of terrorists throughout the country whose main objective is to undermine the public's confidence in the government's ability to counter terror, and to create a climate of fear in which people submit to their dictates unquestioningly. While the Delhi Police needs to be congratulated for being able to prevent such a disaster, it now needs to follow up its effort by unearthing all the ramifications of the entire plot.

Also, one hopes that incidents like these will persuade the Opposition parties, which are determined to oppose the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), to change their mind. Their leaders should recognise that the serious threat the country faces from terrorism requires them to rise above partisan considerations and act in the national interest which certainly requires that the POTO becomes an Act. Meanwhile, it is significant that two of the three-a man and a woman-arrested in the present instance, are from Calcutta. This again underlines the fact that a number of terrorist organisations, created and supported by Pakistan, have set up safe houses and secret cells in West Bengal which is fast becoming the principal support area for terrorism in large parts of the country. To an extent, this is understandable.

The State has a long and porous border with Bangladesh where Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) once again operates openly with State support following Ms Khaleda Zia's return to power as Prime Minister. It is not that the state government does not recognise the danger posed by both Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisations and criminal gangs remote-controlled by the same foreign master. The state cabinet had drawn up a Prevention of Organised Crime Ordinance (POCO) and sent it to the Governor for his approval. Unfortunately, the party's central committee had other ideas and compelled the state government to recall the Ordinance. Will its members apologise if a handicapped police force fails to cope and terrorist violence sweeps West Bengal as well?

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