Indian newspapers’ take on Beslan

No sympathies for terrorists

Among Indian newspapers, The Hindu carried the best editorial.

The Beslan calamity has revealed the ugliest face of fundamentalist terrorism. The Chechnya-linked terrorists deliberately targeted innocent small children. For three days they held at gunpoint hundreds of boys and girls and adults caring for them; the hostages were packed, in sweltering heat, in a small school gymnasium with bombs hanging over their heads and without food and water. The terrorists demonstrated they had no compunction in detonating the bombs that killed the children in the end…

President Putin has highlighted the truth that international terrorism has unleashed an “all-out war” against Russia. Displaying a commendable resolve not to give in to terrorists, the Russian leader made it clear his Government had learnt its lessons. He called for an overhaul of the country’s security system, and for effective anti-crisis management mechanisms…The hope is that the world will draw from the Russian tragedy the appropriate lesson: that international terrorists, outrageously appropriating the banner of Islam, have come a long way in forming a united front against civilised humankind. It is high time western countries stopped differentiating between “bad” and “good” terrorists — between those who target the United States and its allies on the one hand and those who target Chechnya, Jammu & Kashmir, Xinjiang, and so forth — and close ranks in fighting the terrorist menace. [The Hindu]

But it appears The Hindu‘s advocacy of a uncompromising line towards terrorists and kidnappers is confined to foreigners. During India’s own recent hostage crisis, the same newspaper made the most strident calls for the Indian government to bow down to the demands of the Iraqi terrorists.

The Calcutta Telegraph, long accustomed to pointing out the many failings of governments, does its usual routine. It argues that the Russian forces were underprepared and could have handled the seige better, given that most of the hostages were children. Vladimir Putin and the Russians may well agree with this view.