Nationalist terrorism is terrorism

And is as abhorrent is any other kind of terrorism

Even as we await more details of the plot behind the terrorist attacks in Malegaon, and even as media and political reactions to the affair take on even more grotesque forms, some commentators have argued that there can be no moral equivalence between a form of terrorism that seeks to destroy the Indian state and a form that does not seek it.

This argument is fallacious. Political violence of any form is morally repugnant and indefensible. Terrorism—a form that involves the indiscriminate targeting of civilians—is perhaps the most repugnant. It is repugnant if carried out by nationalists, separatists, secessionists, Leftists, jihadis or Hindu extremists. The first step in a national strategy to defeat terrorism is the realisation that political violence, leave alone terrorism, must not be tolerated by civil society.

So “Hindu terrorists” are being suspected of having carried out the bombings in Malegaon. Even as segments of the political spectrum delight in emphasising the adjective “Hindu” in that phrase, it is the noun “terrorist” that must be the focus of our attention. And our condemnation.

The communal overtones of the debate over the Malegaon terrorist attacks only underline the fact that that UPA government’s failure to maintain internal security, its yielding to competitive intolerance and its viewing of counter-terrorism through a communal prism risks sparking off political violence on a wider scale. The descent to matsya-nyaya is palpable: and unless arrested immediately, will have grave consequences in the near future. For the normative illegitimacy of political violence requires the state to enforce and be seen as enforcing the rule of law.

The only solution is a complete, resolute and unambiguous intolerance of political violence and terrorism—regardless of scale or perpetrator—by the government. And yes, by Indian society.

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18 Responses to Nationalist terrorism is terrorism

  1. Sud 28th October 2008 at 16:23 #

    Wonder why the appellation ‘terrorist’ hasn’t already been applied to the violent antics of Raj Thackeray and his Shaitan fans. One could say that its because the MNS is an INC supported method of destroying the Shiv Sena etc but that would be besides the point. The same tactics Indira used against the Akalis and for which the country paid a heavy price for.

    As for the Sadhvi terrorism issue, sure, one should condemn the use of violence for political objectives. But like offstumped points out, there seems to be little in the way of factual evidence and more in the way of smearing and mudslinging going on in this case.

  2. Udayan 28th October 2008 at 16:30 #

    @sud,

    We have a simple word to describe Raj T and his gang: goonda.

  3. Oldtimer 28th October 2008 at 19:07 #

    1. The motives of the pro-Islamist sections of the media may well be to communalize the terrorism debate, but they are unwittingly bringing to it a level of honesty not seen before. Let us face it: what we coyly refer to as “islamist terrorism”, “jihadi terrorism” etc is more aptly described as Muslim terrorism, for it IS terrorism perpetrated by Muslim aggressors on (primarily) non-Muslim victims. Likewise, we should have no qualms in admitting that the Malgaon incident is a manifestation of Hindu terrorism, for its primary target appears to be non-Hindus.

    2. Agreed that Hindu terrorists deserve our equal condemnation as Muslim terrorists do. In fact, this is a very good opportunity to de-communalize the debate. The alleggation of Islamists all along has been that laws like POTA were meant to harass Muslims. Now is the time to expose their muck-racking, by bringing the law back, applying it on Malegaon’s Hindu terrorists first, and following it up with applying it on Muslim terrorists arrested for recent bombings.

  4. Udayan 28th October 2008 at 19:49 #

    @oldtimer,

    Well said. The tragedy is that the BJP and RSS don’t get the point.

  5. Raj 28th October 2008 at 20:25 #

    Too much eating is bad doesn’t mean eating is bad. This whole concept of “Violence is Bad ” takes things to the limit of intellectual bankruptcy . Violence is an integral part of human existence ..struggle with injustice has to be the motto even if it is violent .
    Remember Mahabharata , When Government is Blind and biased (dhrutrashtra) , Beurocracy (Gandhari) has decided to be blindly loyal to government and Sinner sons this matrimony play with Adharma .. and Bhisma(Media ) betrays the intellect ,Violence is inevitable ..

    These acts of revenge ( sadhvi and Rahul Raj) demonstrates the helplessness of common man .. frustration of not finding Krishna .. someone to show them direction ..

  6. DK 28th October 2008 at 22:23 #

    This is probably the most level headed take I have seen in the recent past. All sorts of political violence should be condemned outright. But this is where the state has failed the common man.

    This is leading people to start justifying violent retaliation (See Tarun Vijay’s article in Rediff). And this is a slippery slope, because once you start justifying, it becomes subjective.

    Everyone knows that the letter of law should be followed, but till that happens, for most people violence is going to be the only resort. And I dont see this changing, not at least in my lifetime.

    -DK

  7. Palahalli 29th October 2008 at 00:56 #

    If media coverage is anything to go by, then there will be no lessons learnt by the MSMs even if these Hindu terrorists are dealt with per rule of law.

    In their minds, Hindus will have now proven their actual, past (MSM)asserted, terrorist inclinations.

    Muslims would still be, “those depressed, underprivileged, discriminated youth, taking revenge for Gujarat 2002 and now, for Malegaon 2008!”

    Methinks, now is the time to be partisan…

  8. Shankar 29th October 2008 at 08:16 #

    Is violence against a community is terrorism and violence against a state Millitancy ?

  9. Revathi 29th October 2008 at 16:43 #

    It is good to hear that this mystery is now solved and the people responsible have been brought to books. We were hearing everyone pointing out to the malegaon case each time terrorist belonging to the muslim community was apprehended. So now they can see that law takes action against all communities and dont have to complain about inaction against hindu terrorists which I dont think is the case- several so called hindu holy men have already been arrested for various crimes including
    the shankaracharya of kanchi.

  10. Kulkarni 29th October 2008 at 17:11 #

    Some thoughts on Raj and terrorism as a marathi manoos.

    Raj Thackeray is touching the marathi people’s heart because of the total collapse of system in Mumbai. What the marathis should not do is turn this into an ego issue against the nation and against biharis as fellow human beings and Indians which is where it is wrong.

    I will here like to bring to the fore the case of ULFA. ULFA in its heydays was an hindu outfit driving out Bangladeshi Muslims from Assam. Through clver intelligent tactics ISI turned ULFA against the biharis. The result was that ULFA has been mowing down biharis while now becoming mute on the demographic changes happening through bangladesh.

    Coming to Maharashtra the leaders in background who are fuming this anger are people like Abu Azmi, Majid memom and the strategy is the same.

    Tread the path carefully brothers. Marathas are proud Indians but over a period of time what happened in Assam is trying to be imitated here.

    Also I respect leaders like Nitish. They should try to develo Bihar so that the root problem of high immigration can come to an end. The anger of local mumbaikars is not on immigration. It is break down of a city from a beautiful place into a slum city.

    I am sure Raj is not doing the correct thing but who cares. He will also not do anything for Mumbai or Maharashtra but remember rabid leaders do win. He is taking a leaf out of Modi but he is not hesitating to use it against fellow Hindus as well. The attention from Bangladeshis has now turned to north Indians.

  11. Trailblazer 29th October 2008 at 21:55 #

    Why is the Government playing a mute spectator? I seriously do not understand. When is enough, enough?

  12. Kulkarni 29th October 2008 at 22:30 #

    Regarding Risks in India and terrorism.

    I am taking this comment from a Muslim commentator at a web site. Allthough I am very sure that MNS is going the ULFA way and somewhere leaders like Abu Azmi are fuelling the divide in the nation. But I liked this Muslim Gentleman’s comment.

    ”I feel this is politics at its worst. Two failed leaders who see the election coming nearer seem to have united to divide the country.

    One is Laloo Yadav and other is Raj Thackeray and these are brothers in arm.

    Laloo Yadav ruled Bihar for 15 years and bashed Upper castes regularly but not once talked progress. Raj Thackeray is a man in hurry. He knows Mumbai is failing and he knows Mumbaikars are fed up with infrastructure woes. What best thing to do rather than solve a problem find the cause of the problem? And as we all do we point a finger to a person regarding his ethnicity, religion, caste or language.

    Let me dissect Laloo. He is not once calling for progress in Bihar or asking biharis to use this opportunity to develop Bihar. All he is doing is shouting that this is wrong. I will stop Trains. I will do chat Puja in Mumbai.

    Let me dissect Raj. He is shouting how come few Biharis wrote this and said this and did that. Did he once say that Krishna(Mathura) and Ram(Ayodhya) both were also Bhaiyyas? And yet he may use Gita and Ramayana daily to elaborate he is a hindu. Isn’t Jhansi in UP and don’t so many Marathis live there? Isn’t indore in MP and don’t so many Marathis live there? Infact this entire belt has Maratha heritage.

    Did Raj open a school? Did he worked with lower class Maratha people? One Raj Bihari is shot down and Raj feels his security is threatened but did he once think about the people he is making insecure.

    This is all politics. Hindu, Muslim, Upper caste, Lower caste, Hindi, Marathi.

    Sad part is that the biggest racists among all are the well educated people.”

  13. Chandra 29th October 2008 at 22:38 #

    “several so called hindu holy men have already been arrested for various crimes including
    the shankaracharya of kanchi.”

    Revathi, “so called” holy men were arrested. Fine. But do you know if the State have case against them?

    Nitin, somehow I think bigger picture is being missed with this back and forth about terminology. Anti-Christian cult groups violence and this says something.

  14. Dilip D'Souza 30th October 2008 at 14:50 #

    Political violence of any form is morally repugnant and indefensible. Terrorism—a form that involves the indiscriminate targeting of civilians—is perhaps the most repugnant. It is repugnant if carried out by nationalists, separatists, secessionists, Leftists, jihadis or Hindu extremists. [etc]

    I can’t thank you enough, Nitin, for this clear denunciation of those who would try to draw specious moral distinctions.

  15. Chandra 30th October 2008 at 20:45 #

    “for this clear denunciation of those who would try to draw specious moral distinctions.”

    Except when it involves Maoists or Islamic Jihadis or mobs pouring kerosene to burn innocent traveling passers-by or a Swami and people trying to protect their culture from being destroyed. Except that speciousness. Thanks indeed.

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