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Blasts? What Blasts?…Yeh to hota hi rahta hai…

Blasts? What Blasts?…Yeh to hota hi rahta hai…

Author: B Shantanu
Publication: IndiaCause.com
Date: July 18, 2006
URL: http://www.indiacause.com/columns/OL_060718.htm

"Kuch nahin kar sakte - yeh to hota hi rahega" - I have been hearing this in various conversations all around me for the last two days.

On Rediff, Nitin Chhoda wrote: "You want to help, but the only thing you can do is make a few phone calls. You want to feel sad, but you are too far away…In essence, you feel helpless."

I disagree.

Everyone, in India - and outside - can make a difference. We can do a lot more than feel sad and make a few phone calls. For a change, we can feel angry. Back in March '06, after the blasts in Varanasi, still smarting from the blow and the rage within, I wrote: "If the whole incident was not so tragic, it would be surreal".

Maddeningly, the sequence of blasts, appeals for calm, investigations, nabbing of suspected Pakistani terrorists followed by collective amnesia seems to be playing out again.

The so-called "international community", the western countries, the global powers that be, of course don't care - beyond mouthing platitudes of condemnation and sympathies, there is little they will do - and why should we expect otherwise? No one knows (or cares) that over the years, we have suffered more from terrorism than any other country except Iraq.[i]

Bomb blasts in London are a "terrorist outrage", an attack on western values, an attack on freedom and democracy. In India, bomb blasts are a way of life - besides, what are a few hundred people in a country of billion?

Not surprisingly the unfortunate victims of Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai are never counted or mentioned amongst the "innocents" killed in New York, Bali, London or Madrid. And besides, aren't these people killed because we are holding on to Kashmir against Pakistan's will? Ignorance rules the discussions - and takes cover under indifference when facts begin to get inconvenient.

So what can we do - other than to pray and feel helpless?

I wish I knew the answer. But honestly I do not. In my search for answers, I trawled the discussion forums on Bharat-Rakshak. Huge amount of activity as you can expect - I came back with more questions than answers. But one comment forced me to think.

In a sobering post, Raja Ram laid out what needs to happen for this to stop:

But beyond all this, there will be a need for GOI to get international pressure on the perpetrators and that does not mean the usual parading of painstakingly gathered evidence to foreign diplomats in camera. The GOI has to present the evidence gathered publicly, set forth a clear demand for actions from governments or agencies of governments that may be involved with a clear time frame. This should be backed up with a clear promise of retributive action against the perpetrators with or without their support. International support for such should be channelised and developed. This calls for political will. So far no administration in India has had the gumption to go through this.

Hence hope for retribution is not high at this point in time….Unless the entire spectrum of Indian public opinion comes around to clearly calling the spade a bloody shovel and stop pussy footing around, there is very little the GOI can do in terms of retribution.

But this "can happen only when the political class has the clarity of mind about dealing with terror in that manner. There are consequences to such actions that we must be ready to face. The political class, mind you is a creature of the people. The people should not only be ready to back them but demand such action from the political class and only then will they respond.

Till that happens, concerned Indians can pull their hair and whack their heads - not much is going to come out of it. India will just have to take it in her stride yet again and fight on alone. There is no support for India in her war on terror. What is available is only meaningless platitudes. Sad but that is the bitter truth."

In November last year, after the Diwali blasts, Swapan Dasgupta wrote in "The Pioneer" ("What cross-border terrorism? Let's celebrate survival"): "The "soft state" is not merely a helpless Prime Minister, an inept Home Minister and a compromised External Affairs Minister. It is a mindset of squeamish appeasement guaranteed to ensure the victims of last Saturday's massacre won't be the last…"

I read this and asked myself - where is our "Lakshman Rekha"? Where is our Red line?

As Rudradev mentioned in his comment on Bharat-rakshak, Once upon a time I thought that a direct terrorist attack aimed at the highest echelons of the political class itself, might be such a redline. But the parliament attack, and Parakram thereafter, put paid to that notion."

We worry about taking "strong action" - any action…why? Because it may ruin our dreams - our dreams of becoming the world's second biggest economy by 2050, the dreams of 10% economic growth, the dreams of 300million middle class, the dreams of an IT superpower…

Rarely do we pause and think what happens to those dreams when 200 people get killed just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

But these things should not distract us - let us focus on getting an Indian as the Secretary General - we may not have a permanent seat but at least we have secretary general[ii]!

As I was mulling over these thoughts, in what appears to be a divinely orchestrated irony, I came across a photograph of a beaming Shyam Saran, India's Foreign Secretary offering Pakistan a cheque for $25m on 11th July even as bombs were being planted in Mumbai.

This was for the victims of the October earthquake in J&K and Pakistan - the same earthquake which offered terror outfits from LeT to Jamaat ul Dawa an opportunity to re-group, take in aid and re-build their cadres - all the while earning a huge amount of goodwill for doing what the government was incapable of doing - which is helping the aid victims. See, "A Tragedy that will Continue to Claim Lives"

But what about the establishment? Did it not feel anything? Anger? Sadness?

So I turned to the Government of India. But all I got was a "cut-and-paste"

"I urge each of you to remain calm…We will win this war against terror…"

The words sounded familiar - and sure enough they were. Back in March '06, after the Varanasi blasts, the PM's media advisor Sanjaya Baru reported that the PM had appealed for maintaining peace and calm - let each one of us get these words engraved and put them up on a plaque in our homes and offices - it will save everyone the trouble of repeating them every few months.

What about Pakistan? As expected, we got the standard statement of condemnation. As Ujjal noted in his post on Bharat-Rakshak, "seems like it was written weeks in advance"

So did no one felt any anger? What does it take to do something?

On the Bharat-Rakshak discussion forum, Sbajwa acidly wrote in his post:

"From Amarnath to Coimbture, Bombay to Delhi, Kashmir to Hyderabad/Banglore, Calcutta to Ahmadabad.., Terrorists have run out of targets..
They have attacked Red Fort, wives and children of Army personnel, Parliament, Stock Exchange, Educational institutes and professors, Amarnat/Ayodhya/Sankat mochan/etc temples, bombs in buses/trains/streets.
What is left? I guess they will have to start exploding bombs atop Himalaya or Ganga to get Indians to wake up and do something." Indeed.

Then, incredulously, I learnt that just days before the blasts, the UP government had asked the Centre to revoke the ban on SIMI. Did someone say they were involved in the Mumbai blasts?

- Arey Yaar, Yeh to hota hi rahta hai…

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