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No tears for terrorism's victims

No tears for terrorism's victims

Author: Wilson John
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: December 25, 2002

I am desperately searching for some human rights activists-even one will do-who can take up the cause of the children being killed by terrorists in Kashmir. These do-gooders seem to have suddenly vanished into thin air. Perhaps it is the season: Christmas day and less than six days to New Year's eve. There are plenty of things to do. There are the 'dos' for hack diplomats (wonder how some people have all the time in the world to write poems, partyhop every evening and hold a full-time Government job), and there are the dos for diplomatic hacks and for all kinds of people forming the swish set of the metropolis. Everyone is entitled to their individual share of fun and frolic, including those who live well.
My problem is with those who emerge from their cocoons once in a while, holding up the banner of human rights. Remember the ruckus created when two Lashkar- e-Toiba terrorists were shot in an encounter at Delhi's Ansal Plaza? A concerted campaign was launched, with the gullible media doing the chant, against the policemen who caught the terrorists in time.

All kinds of fictitious stories were planted in newspapers with the 'largest' circulations, raising serious doubts about the police version of the incident. Ironically, the campaign was carried out by the same set of journalists that has never bothered to cross-check police versions of incidents earlier. What was the objective? Pure mischief. No effort whatsoever was made to pursue the case independently. Most depended on a fake doctor with questionable antecedents for their version of the encounter. No one bothered to find out about the terrorists involved. Were these men innocent, as media reports implied? No. They were terrorists, freshly recruited by agents who have long been put in place by the Inter- Services Intelligence in various corners of the country.

One has to merely look at the dubious functioning of many madrasas and religious institutions, particularly in western Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal. There are credible reports, for instance, of organisations like the Ahle Hadis based in Moradabad. This secretive Deobandi organisation, with links to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, is recruiting youngsters for terrorist attacks within the country. Some of the accused in the Mumbai serial blast and Rajdhani blast cases, Dr Jalees Ansari and Abdul Karim Tunda, for instance, were members of Ahle Hadis. Tunda is today the deputy commander of Lashkar's India operations. The point is, neither the media nor the human rights activists ever talk about these matters.

Before taking up the issue of children in Kashmir, I would like to dwell on the human rights set making a hue and cry over the death sentence given to three terrorist conspirators in the case concerning the attack on Parliament on December 13 last year. The human rights activists have formed a group to defend the Zakir Hussain College lecturer, SAR Geelani, and are planning to file a case before the National Human Rights Commission against the death sentence accorded him for his role in the terrorist attack.

Nothing could be more ludicrous. Geelani was convicted and sentenced after a special court went through a mountain of evidence, mostly telephonic conversations, that proved his complicity in the most brazen terrorist attack ever witnessed on Indian soil. In fact, had the attack succeeded, it would have surpassed the 9/11 WTC attack in magnitude and impact. It was not a run-of-the- mill operation planned by the Al Qaeda. The objective was to take the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Defence Minister hostage, kill a few Ministers and Members of Parliament, and spell out a ransom demand once the attack had succeeded.

The terrorists were obviously not properly trained. Nor was their homework complete (they were not sure of the layout of Parliament, especially the access points). As a result, they panicked when their car banged into a stationary car in the Vice-President's cavalcade. The suicide bomber too faltered and could not blow himself up in time. The plan was to explode a few bombs at the gate to divert the attention of the security forces and sneak into Parliament. This was the modus operandi they had tried out in the October 1 attack on the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly building in Srinagar.

These facts are of no concern to the human rights activists who find in Geelani an innocent victim of the system. The real victim is Navjyot Sidhu, wife of one of the three convicted, whose only fault was to be in the house where the plot was discussed. She was aware of the attack and should have informed the police even if it meant squealing on her husband. No one has come forward to defend her or plead for her.

And pray, why the NHRC? If the activists were genuinely concerned about Geelani, they should have gone to the appellate court, the Delhi High Court. The NHRC has neither the jurisdiction nor the powers to adjudicate legal matters. The problem is, the group would have found the court dismissing its plea at the outset on the question of locus standi. And rightly so.

The human rights activists need not worry though. There is a real, burning issue they can take up and get immense public support and appreciation. It is about terrorists killing girls for not wearing burqa. It is about young, innocent children being targetted by frustrated killers. If they dared, the activists would raise a banner, wear black badges, speak on television and take out a rally in downtown Srinagar. If they dared, they would try to save children from the terrorists.

These terrorists the activists seem to be so concerned about are ruthless killers, working on the orders of desperate elements in Pakistan. Can the so called guardians of human rights turn their attention to those who call for strikes when the law punishes killers? Can they take a flight to Srinagar, drive down to the villages where these children were killed in cold blood and tell their parents that terrorists have human rights? Can they look into the eyes of the unfortunate fathers and mothers who survive the death of their offspring instead of the other way round?

Sadly, Kashmir has a history of the skewered application of the concept of human rights. Killing of terrorists make for impassioned speeches and fiery commentaries. But condemnation and insults are heaped freely on security forces doing the most thankless job in the world: Protecting those who throw mud at them at every opportunity. So when a busload of soldiers get blown up by IEDs planted by terrorists, the event hardly stirs anyone in the charmed circles of Delhi.

Terrorists have killed women and children in the past too, and in large numbers. I have yet to hear anyone in Delhi taking out a protest rally in memory of the victims. No one mourns them. No one writes about them. It is as if innocents have no human rights, only their killers have. Look at the hypocrisy that fuels another set of radicals, Muslim counterparts of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. When temples are attacked by terrorists, no one raises a stink. But when security forces storm mosques to rid the holy place of terrorists, murmurs of protests can be heard in the corridors of the India International Centre.

This sham must end. It has ruined Kashmir. It has made the Government defensive. It has sullied the image of the security forces. It has emboldened only the forces of disruption and violence. It has boosted the morale of secessionist elements like the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. Don't give the terrorists a voice. There is no justification for violence in a democracy, not even bad governance. So next time when the human rights brigade take up the cause of a Geelani or an Afzal, think about the parents whose children were killed in front of their eyes by desperate terrorists.

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