Sunday, 14 September, 2008

Delhi Blasts: A Secularist Questions


My family, my whole family, mom dad sis, had a narrow escape in today’s Delhi serial blasts. By ‘narrow’ I mean really really narrow. They were a few meters away from the blast site, and were AT the site from where live bombs were found minutes later.

Only I know what I felt during the time I heard about the blasts till the time my family got a three wheeler and reached home safely. At last I had a sigh of relief but today they escaped, what about tomorrow? And if not my family what about the families of those 20 that did lose their life and those 100s battling for in the hospital?

The first thought that my sister had after having a narrow escape from the blast was that “we have all been turned into insects, just waiting to be crushed anytime. There is no value of our lives, you never know when, where and how.”

A million thoughts came to mind. What exactly do these people want? I really wonder if there is anything that we could offer them so that they would stop this blood shed. Earlier we thought, okay the terror attacks on India by Islamic groups are because they want Kashmir. Some people even went to the extent of respectfully calling them freedom fighters for Kashmir and terrorists for federal India. But this Indian Mujahideen, they simply are just mindless blood thirsty psychos.

Looking at the things they said in their emails you wonder how can any group utter such non-sense.

What promise? What sins? What on earth are they trying to do? Are they really so naive to think they’d ever achieve anything in this manner. No matter how flawed our governance is or how weak our intelligence is do they really think they can successfully wage and win a war against an entire nation’s force? Are they that stupid?

In all the news channels this email was shown today. The opening line says, “in the name of Allah.” So do they mean their Allah told them to kill people? Kill which people? Hindu or Muslim or other religion people? Or did Allah specifically ask them to kill Indians of whatever religion? Are they going to kill Indians living in India only or NRIs too?

These Muslim religious leaders keep issuing Fatwas for all sort of reasons. Last they said, Salman Khan is not a Muslim any more and imposed a social boycott on him and his family because Salman did a Ganesh puja. They said idol worship is against Islam. Then they said Muslim women can’t use mobiles, can’t travel alone, can’t buy products from sales men etc.

Now why can’t these Imams issue a Fatwa against these terrorist declaring them as non Muslim on the ground that killing innocent people is against Islam. Or at least condemn the killings. Since nothing of that sort ever happens, should we then assume that killing innocent people is NOT against Islam?

Am sure the Hindutva brigade would jump at this now and say, “that’s the whole point we been trying to make for so long”. But let’s not get into that now.

This Hindutva v. Jihad is pure politics, a game of power, which has got nothing to do with the people dying. Those who are dying, whether Hindu or Muslim are neither interested in Hindutva nor in Jihad, they are just regular law abiding peaceful citizen of this country going about their life rather unaware of the dangerous religious politics their leaders are playing all over the world in the name of their religion. They just want to live their life at peace.

The only way to fight terrorism is by not being terrorised. ‘Not be terrorized’ would mean to not jump the gun and brand the next Muslim you see on the street as terrorist. Neither should we assume that every Muslim subscribe to these killings or would eventually become a jihadi.

Irrespective of what their holy book say or what their leaders may insist, no human being of sane mind would to become a killer. People really just want to live their lives. It’s always those few rotten apples that spoil the whole bunch.

That said, I really wonder what impact do groups like ‘Indian Mujahideen’ have on the average Muslim youth in India and across the world. Why don’t we ever read or hear enough from them? Not just this issue, why don’t the average Muslim speak against arbitrary diktats their religious leaders often impose.

Though Salim Khan is a welcome exception in this context. He not only openly questioned the locus standi of the Imam to issue any kind of Fatwa but also went on to say his wife being a Hindu, celebrating Ganeshotsav is in his blood. Those are some brave words from a truly secular and brave Indian Muslim. Mr Khan said,

But besides that, why ain’t their enough voices against such high degree of gender discrimination I juts mentioned above? Don’t the educated Muslim men see the craziness behind such mindset? Can’t they be vocal about it? I would really need some answers to these questions without which it really gets difficult for a secularist to defend them when another counter-terrorism group attacks another bunch of innocent people as a natural reaction to terrorism.

Even keeping the religion completely aside, if we could look at these attacks purely as law and order problem; lack of intelligence; lack of ground level security measures issue, we would achieve a lot. I mean the funniest things that I notice in such times are 1) The High Alerts in each city 2) Politician’s condemnation pouring in from all sides 3) and the speculation over the intensity of the bombs. That’s all we do and all we achieve after those long hours of “breaking news” telecast. But what happens after that? Nothing.

Every time a Modi would say we need more stringent laws to tackle terrorism. But what can law do when our ground level policing is not effective. We don’t have enough smart and active police keeping a daily vigil at various nook and corner of the city. Instead we have pan chewing pot bellied yawning police men who are busy collecting bribes from petty criminals.

You have a terrorist group carrying on its illegal activity in a certain city for months together before the actual blast but not one local police constable would suspect a thing. They must be visiting the spots couple of times to design their attack, they must be buying raw materials from some place to make these bombs, they must be using cell phones to communicate. Can’t we have intelligence which could nab these culprits at such sources?

There is no answer why our security is so flawed that we never ever get a clue before the attacks take place. So many blasts in the last couple of years but how many arrests? How many cases solved? How many proven guilty beyond doubt?

Another fashionable thing to do after such blast is to blame media for their coverage style. Today, they frowned upon CNN IBN’s showing the life less body of a woman lying on the pavement over and over again. They said, “media only wants to show gory pictures exaggerating things. The city is calm, media is making it look like a war situation.”

Not showing the gory picture wouldn’t help anything you know. It’s not media’s problem that we feel uncomfortable to see the gory picture. Moreover even if one person is dead that is a serious matter, why blame the media? That’s a real body lying there, not a fake body that media has thrown in to create sensation.

Media also got blamed for giving extreme coverage to the email from Indian Mujahideen. Logic? That ‘coverage’ is exactly what the terrorist want so the media is in a serving their purpose. Yes, that may be true but that doesn’t mean Media would keep quiet about the emails. The people of this nation ought to know everything that is there to be known. Controlled information is not going to help.

Yet another rhetoric is “the people of blah blah city has shown that they cannot be cowed down by terror activities. Life gets back in track with full spirit.” My sister called me from the blast site. She said, “People ain’t panicking here. Those who were at bus stops are still waiting for their buses, not everybody can afford an auto even on a crisis day. Dad still tried to bargain with the auto guy.”

So the question is-this ‘not panicking’ is a sign of what? Is it ’strength’ or ’surrender’? or is it Apathy? Or are we getting immune to terror attacks?

Whatever it is, it is not a good sign that every time we fall, we get up, get going only to fall again. We must strike back and show these criminals their place. They have dared us enough. This is no less than an attack on our sovereignty. When will we ever say enough is enough?

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