India must send a strong message to terrorists and their sponsors
The attack in Bangalore is just the latest in a series of such incidents carried out by terrorists with good support from their Pakistan-based, and lately Bangladesh-based sponsors. The question a lot of people ask after this is whether Bangalore is a soft target for terrorists. It is the wrong question. For practically any civilian â€œtargetâ€ is a soft target anywhere in the world. The question to ask is this: are we reacting to such terrorist attacks the correct way?
Terrorist attacks are, per se, not intended to vanquish — the terrorists and their planners know that they face an impossible task in trying to defeat the state, and hence their attack is intended to cause panic, fear, anarchy, or all of the above. They intend to deliver the message that because â€œtheir religion/land was insulted, or their grandma fell ill and could not tell them a bed time story etc.,â€ — take your pick — it is somehow your fault, and that you will have to pay for it â€“ with your life. And that they can, nay, will get you, anytime and anywhere — on your way to work, while celebrating a festival or while you are out having a good time with your family. Fear is the message they intend to get across.
The correct riposte that a society can indeed deliver to such people is that its people won’t be cowed down, and that acts of terror are of little consequence in changing the way they live. And many societies have responded in this manner. But this is not enough. While the intended spread of fear can be negated by such a response, it does not put a stop to actual acts of terror.
What goes a great way in stopping terrorists and their machinations is acting against them and their sponsors. Stopping the acts of terrorism is important, after all, what use is of being a free country, if its government cannot protect the most basic right of its citizens: the right to live?
While terrorists strive to deliver their message, we must not forget that every action or inaction of ours sends them a message. We can repeat endlessly about â€œdecisive battlesâ€ or about â€œnot cowing down to terrorism”. More importantly we need to send signal to the terrorists that they will not go scot-free, no matter where they are. That killing innocent civilians will have a consequence, even an irrational consequence like war. That is the message we need to deliver. The best way of doing that is of course to strike at the organizational capabilities of the terrorists.
This response to terrorism is touted as characteristic of a â€œhardâ€ state. It is not so. This response is of a state that is prepared to take all steps to defend the right of its citizens to live. As a democracy, that is exactly what India must do.
The BangaloreGuy usually expresses his opinions at BombatBengluru.