Terrorists up the ante with the attack in Nagpur – the dots are all connected
The foiled attack on the headquarters of RSS headquarters is Nagpur falls into the general pattern of terrorist attacks over the last year — the intention is not merely to kill civilians but to deliberately provoke communal riots. That their provocations failed to ignite large-scale riots has caused them to up the ante by choosing bolder targets each time. The good news from Nagpur is that the attacks were foiled because of good intelligence and police work.
The bad news is that while those who were killed were almost certainly expendable foot-soldiers, the organisation that is behind the spate of attacks is very much intact. There’s worse: little is known about it and there is evidence that many of the terrorists in the previous attacks were homegrown, albeit with support from Pakistan and in Bangladesh. Even if the attackers themselves were foreigners, it is inconceivable that they could carry them off without local support. Worst of all, faced with a domestic version of al-Qaeda, the Indian government is yet to come up with a consolidated strategy to tackle this new security threat.
Like Naxalite terror, homegrown Islamic terrorism has a predominant inter-state dimension. It has a strong international dimension too. Terrorists are taken to Pakistan and Bangladesh, trained and infiltrated into India, plan their attacks in one state, procure arms and material from another and carry out attacks in yet another state. Expecting the state police forces to co-operate with only the central Intelligence Bureau to coordinate between them is at best complex and time-consuming and at worst ineffective. In the absence of a coherent national counter-terrorism strategy, the lack of coordination in operational terms just gets worse. The result is that more than strategy, it is very often serendipity that helps chalk up successes against terrorists.
Clearly, there is a need to go after these domestic ‘al-Qaeda’ with determination and vigour. Its ability to carry out attacks in several states across the breadth of the country suggests that what needs to be nipped is no longer just a bud. The UPA government cannot seriously hope to defeat or even contain this threat with an admixture of political correctness and rhetoric and worse, by burying its head in the sand. Domestic counter-terrorism needs not only just more teeth, it needs a whole rottweiler.