The attack on Hyderabad

Isn’t it time that the Indian government decided that enough is enough?

It’s the latest episode of a morbid soap opera which started soon after then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made his way to Islamabad and kick-started the ‘peace process’ with Pakistan. The principal objective of the Pakistani ISI-Dawood-jihadi nexus became one of undermining India’s stability and development. This was to be achieved by hitting at India’s perceived Achilles’ heel—religious and communal harmony. Al-Qaeda attacks in the West involve targets that are either spectacular or cause a large number of casualties or both. The terrorist attacks in India involve targets that are either places and times with religious connotations. The attack on Hyderabad, through the bombing of Mecca Masjid during Friday prayers, fits right into this scheme of things.

Just a week ago, Praveen Swami wrote that the Lashkar-e-Taiba might have been forced to lay off attacking targets outside of Jammu & Kashmir, due to the constraints Gen Musharraf and the ISI have placed on it. Now, Swami is among the most perspicacious commentators on national security matters, but he too put too much stock in the theory of changed intentions. Changes in intention do matter, but by themselves are too impermanent to be taken as credible. What the Hyderabad blasts bring to sharp relief is that the most important issue in India’s relations with Pakistan, and not least the ‘peace process’, remains the oldest one—closing down the jihadi establishment and decommissioning of Dawood Ibrahim & Co. It should rank as a matter of supreme irony that the Indian government has forgotten about this at a time when the Pakistani people are up in arms against Musharraf’s surrender to the jihadis.

Like after previous attacks, India has defeated the terrorists this time—by not allowing the bombings to spark off large-scale communal violence. Despite some irresponsible and diversionary commentary, the national media has helped matters by doing a “Salaam Hyderabad“. While it is important feel good about the fact that communal harmony has held, it is equally important to understand that it may not do so every time.

In his column today, Swami helps connect the dots—the disaffected local youth, the training in Pakistan, the links with organised crime syndicates and the sanctuaries in Bangladesh to the Mecca Masjid bombings.

Quite obviously, there is a need to tackle the disaffection among the Muslim youth. It’s a complex exercise certainly, but one too easily interpreted to mean pandering to demands made by parochial politicians and intolerant clerics. Even as there is a need to address the genuine causes of disaffection among the Muslim community—usually the same ones as in any community, except given an different identity—there is also a need to address the channels through which the disaffection spreads. Unfortunately, both the UPA government in New Delhi and the Congress government in Hyderabad are committed not to do exactly that.

What of the international angle, then? Well, there is that India-Pakistan joint mechanism on fighting terrorism. But even before that mechanism got a chance to kick in the Pakistani foreign office performed its “baseless allegations” routine. We’ll probably hear from the Indian government that given Gen Musharraf’s precarious situation, this is not a good time to remember people like Dawood Ibrahim. As for Bangladesh, we don’t even know why the Indian government does nothing more than ask the government in Dhaka to take action.

9 thoughts on “The attack on Hyderabad”

  1. It is indeed sheer luck that communal harmony is holding in Hyderabad after all that the police did to further alienate the Muslims aftr the blast. Visuals on three telugu news channels are witness to this fact.

    As Yossarin wrote UPA’s Muslim appeasement levels have reached unacceptable levels.

  2. There are a number of nation states in and outside the vicinity of India that would like to fish in its troubled waters, and check its growth. If Pakistan and Bangladesh were tamed, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, would only be too glad to take their places.

    The demographics of India is such that it can achieve sustained growth and prosperity only if religion is rooted out. That, of course, is another of my fantasies, so I will advocate the second best. The State of India should be declared irreligious, leading to its strict separation from the church, gurudhwara, mosque, and temple, etc., instead of its professed strict neutrality between its religions (much touted by Prof. Amartya Sen in “The Argumentative Indian”, and elsewhere) .

    If India failed to learn from its history, it’s bound to repeat it.

  3. Lack of long-term security planning, lack of even short-term security machinations,
    and even economic facets like a lack of infrastructure development — these might seem to stem
    from incompetence, but there is really a large ideological component to this madness.

    If it was just incompetence, we could only wring our hands and wish for structural and political changes.

    But if it is ideological — for instance, folks at would disagree with changing the status quo on all three of above fronts — then we have a tackleable problem.

  4. Rational Fool, though I dont agree that religion should be rooted out if India is to prosper, I agree completely that the Indian state should become irreligious and secular in the true sense of the term. A secular state is one which is disinterested in matters of religion. Yet the Indian state, whose understanding of secularism is neutrality to all religions instead of complete disassociation from religion, calls itself secular. Since it involves itself in religious matters, especially those of Muslims by way of Haj subsidy and other grants of taxpayer money for religious causes, and maintains an understanding of secularism as neutrality to all religions instead of disassociation of itself from the same, the Indian state should call itself multireligious and not secular.

  5. What muslim appeasement I wonder.

    I havent been following this closely, but it doesnt seem like anybody is even seriously considering let alone investigating the possibility of Hindu extremists setting off these bombs- we had this in Malegaon, and again now.

    Intelligence expert B Raman was one of the quickest off to this tack, linking it to Muslim jihadi groups.


  6. Atlantean and Rational Fool,
    I’d disagree — in fact I’d aver the exact opposite holds. Communitarian concepts like religion and nationalism are most useful in pulling a community out of the morass. They’d be less useful in peaceful times.

    Also, strife amongst religions can be only be reduced by merging nationalism and religion/spiritualism — again the exact opposite of what you prescribe.

    Time for a one nation under God type pledge I’d say.

  7. Hello,

    I don’t think that either any constitutional declarations of making India irreligious or merging religion with nationalism is going to solve the challenges of terrorism. What we are faced today is the outgrowth of the “muslim problem” that remained largely unresolved even after the partition of India. This situation is going to get with each passing year.

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