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A litany of horrors

A litany of horrors

Author: P R Ramesh
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: October 1, 2008
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3546376.cms

Introduction: o The results in election after election is proof of people's fury at the government's soft approach to terror o The surest way to compromise the nation's security is to place terrorists in the country's slow criminal justice system o Is constitutional protection only for those who want others dead?

You have to be either deaf or dumb or both to miss the mayhem wreaked by the jehadis. The artists of anarchy are on the loose killing and maiming innocents at random. In the past four days, there have been three attacks - in Delhi, Gujarat's Sabarkantha and Maharashtra's Malegaon.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has repeated for the umpteenth time that his government is dead serious about exacting justice from those who attack us without provocation or justification. On his way to Marseilles, Mr Singh told reporters accompanying him that his government will fight terror "resolutely". He also said that his government would strengthen intelligence gathering, investigation and prosecution processes. Really? Evidence on the ground suggests exactly the opposite.

While the apostles of appeasement led by Union HRD minister Arjun Singh have thrown a protective arm around terror suspects detained by the Delhi Police, the establishment's favourite civil rights activists have let loose a torrent of sob stories surrounding terror suspects and their families. Muslim organisations and their megaphones have begun alleging that "regular" guys are being targeted by the police. Ministers like Kapil Sibal are aiding their conspiracy theories by invading TV studios to air their opposition to tougher anti-terror laws. The commentariat agrees with their position and have taken to hyperbole - tough laws will trample citizens' rights and convert our prisons into gulags!

The Congress has enthusiastically supported Jamia Millia University vice chancellor Mushirul Hasan's promise to fund the legal battle of two terror detainees. For the Congress, it is yet another opportunity to show that the UPA is brimming with compassion. The decision came on the back of a campaign to project the police encounter at Jamia Nagar was fake. This should not come as a surprise. For in their world, rationality is routinely and willingly suspended in the furtherance of their cause. No one would dare ask them why the police would pump bullets into the abdomen of one of their best officers. Or, why the police would choose a communally sensitive area like Jamia Nagar to organise a "fake encounter"?

A fact-finding team of civil rights alarmists have prepared a report, based on selective facts and distorted statistics, to contest the police version of the encounter. As usual, they did not allow facts to come in the way of concocting a good story. They want us to believe that the Jamia men were innocent unfortunates caught in a dragnet. And for proof, we have Jamia residents describe them as "masoom bachche" (innocent children); college mates coming on TV to say that the boys came to Delhi with the dream of earning a degree; we are shown the Orkut profile of Atif which lists ultra-national Mother India and Rang de Basanti as his all-time favourite films. What a charade they are putting up. It would have been easy to ignore it, were its consequences not so dangerous for the country.

In the midst of this cacophony, the prime minister wants us to believe that his government is firm on strengthening the prosecution process. Don't believe it. For the string pullers are outside the government. This government has all along displayed a pathological hatred for tough laws to meet the terror challenge. While internal security minister (no pun intended) Shivraj Patil has been repeating the inanity that bad guys can be converted to the mainstream viewpoint by treating them humanely, the Lalus and Paswans say that there should be no compromise on the constitutional rights of citizens. Translation: better to let go of 100 guilty men than wrongly convicting one. It is the same old noble concern that one hears from the human rights activists. But is constitutional protection only for those who want others dead?

This is not to suggest that terrorists do not require trial. No constitutionally mandated governance can be allowed to treat convicts the way a Shariah court treats a deviant in its eyes. But the surest way to compromise the nation's security is to place terrorists in the country's slow criminal justice system. Only the unhinged can support the stand that there should be only one set of law for the ordinary law breaker and an enemy combatant.

But with the politically correct sections and hardline community outfits hurling charges of prejudice and discrimination at the investigating agencies, there is little likelihood of the prime minister taking even a token step on his post-Delhi attack promises.

The results in election after election is proof of people's fury at the government's soft approach to terror. However, these periodic whippings from an outraged public have not chastened the government or the ruling side. The inability to grab the reins back from the civil rights lobbyists and their handlers in the political spectrum could prove to be costly in the next big electoral round. Elections are won by parties who bring themselves in line with the mood of the electorate.

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