Get Rico the hitman
That organised crime syndicates operate with a large degree of impunity in India, especially in its major cities, is well-known fact. It is also clear that the lines between these syndicates and terrorist groups are blurring. In a paper to be published later this month, Rollie Lal, a political scientist with RAND, argues that “terrorist groups will continue to operate as long as they can acquire from criminal groups the needed weaponry, financing, and personnel. Closing this access is difficult, but crucial”. To counter the strength of these criminal syndicates she calls for firstly, using the Freedom of Information Act of 2002 to combat official corruption; and secondly, equipping the legal system with more effective tools to bring criminal-terrorists to trial. On account of the latter, she is of the opinion that implementation of a US-style RICO Act may be required. That law allows victims to file civil suits against the criminal gangs, and in the American context, successful cases receive three times their losses in damages.
Unlike other tough instruments the Indian state has used to tackle terrorism, empowering citizens to take legal action against gangsters and terrorists will not provide a fig leaf for the various interest groups that prefer the status quo. It will be hard to label such an act as ‘draconian’ or ‘anti-minority’ or any one of those perverted words of India’s political lexicon that are used to justify inaction. Alongside with a strategy to address terrorism at its source in Pakistan, it is timely to consider cutting off access to infrastructure that terrorists can use to carry out attacks in India.