Many people presume that tackling terrorism is primarily the job of the security forces. Here, the onus is placed on the intelligence agencies for gaining information to prevent terror attacks; should the terrorists get lucky, as invariably they sometimes will, then the onus is on the Army and the police to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. But tackling ter-rorism requires more than just the intelligence agencies and the security forces. It requires a whole of government approach as also a whole of civil society approach too. Indeed, every person has a role to play, however small that part may be, because in the end, we are all equally impacted by terror.

The political approach to tackling terror in India is unfortunately partisan. With an eye on vote bank politics, some parties put the national interest at risk. The Batla House encounter is a case in point, where a brave police officer laid down his life in an opera-tion, but to assuage the Muslim community, the Congress and some other parties chose to refer to it as a staged encounter. And this, when they were in power, both in the Centre and also in the state where the encounter took place! Other examples abound as in the case of a Pakistani hit module which was busted by the security forces with the killing of Ishrat Jahan and her co-conspirators. This case is still talked off as an abuse of human rights of the terrorists, simply as a vote bank expedient. While a whole of government and a whole of civil society approach to tackling terrorism, as done by countries like Singapore, is desperately needed in India, what we get is a divided polity and a divided civil society. This remains a fundamental weakness.

To make matters worse, rather than assist-ing the security forces in their fight against terror, attempts are made to tie their hands, again for political reasons. In a recent case, a convoy led by Maj. Aditya was pelted with stones by a murderous mob, hell bent on lynching his men. The convoy opened fire in self defence, in which two of the stone pelters died, before the mob dispersed. It is tragic that the state government filed a FIR against the Army, accusing them of the death of the two stone pelters. While Supreme Court orders dictate the mandatory filing of a FIR in cases where death occurs, this could have been better worded, putting the onus on the murderous mob. Stone pelting and lynching is the latest weapon in the armoury of terror-ists, as any force used against them can be propagated as being disproportionate. This is a deliberate ploy, propped and instigated by Pakistan, and it needs to be made clear to the government in J&K, that such actions against the Indian Army will be treated as an act of terror and responded to accordingly.

Our intelligence effort has also been dilut-ed as seen in the tragic manner in which the Technical Support Division (TSD) was wound up by the UPA government. The TSD was doing yeoman work through HUMINT, and was not involved in technical snooping as was alleged by its detractors, who were hell bent on hitting out at the former Army Chief Gen. VK Singh. There was an arms lobby at work and tragically, that lobby still exerts consider-able influence. A movie named Aiyaary has been made on the organisation, called DSD in the movie, where the protagonist is the head of DSD. The issues raised in this movie are chillingly real, even though they have been watered down as far as the role of the civil agencies and particularly the politico-bureaucratic nexus is concerned, although touched upon in passing in the movie (after all the producer has to live too). In real life, Col Hunny Bakshi, the erstwhile head of TSD is still being hounded by the powers that be, for simply protecting the nation! The TSD has been disbanded by the very same politico-bureaucratic nexus, the fall out of which is that we are back to where we started after the Mumbai attack. No ability to strike back. A Kafkaesque horror has been inflicted on Hunny and his erstwhile comrades and it is only hoped that the present dispensation restores to him his honour and his dignity. That is the least that the nation can do to those who serve its cause under the radar. Do see the movie which has been fictionalised. The truth is far more grotesque.

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