Terrorists strike once every six weeks

And why they are permitted to do so

Looking at press releases issued by the India’s home ministry since March 2006, Jagadish calculates that India has suffered a terrorist attack approximately once every six weeks. (Most of them involve Shivraj Patil condemning the attacks, not the the attackers.) And that’s not counting Naxalite attacks.

The need to fight these terrorists has crossed the chasm and is now an electoral issue. This should have been clear to the political establishment at least since August last year. Yet, the only significant successes have been in Gujarat. Now, it is abundantly clear that the Congress party believes that its deliberate go-easy approach to countering terrorism will play well to its ‘minority’ vote banks, and therefore also pay electoral dividends. While we are likely to see this myth being destroyed in the coming Lok Sabha elections, Jagadish offers another explanation for the chalta hai doctrine: “the terrorists will keep getting away with these attacks as long as they target civilians. The moment a politician is affected, that’s when the representatives will wake up and take action.”

Because of the practice of handing out ex gratia payments and other entitlements to the victims of terrorism, the political class manages to prevent public outcry from coalescing around interest groups consisting of the direct victims of terrorism. That inverts the incentive structures necessary to get the political class to commit itself to taking the fight to the terrorists. Atanu Dey’s solution may well be too radical to be implemented but linking “benefits”, perhaps taxpayer funded personal security cover for politicians, to performance indicators linked to terrorism is a good idea in itself.

It is long past the time to demand some accountability from India’s presumably accountable political leaders.

Tailpiece: GreatBong is wrong: the term mujra-hideen is better suited to describe those, like Shivraj Patil and Manmohan Singh, who do the tired old routine after the mujahideen have finished theirs.

20 thoughts on “Terrorists strike once every six weeks”

  1. While the congress’ track record of appeasement has been long document, I fail to understand the logic. Muslims make up 13 percent of our population,so are the “electoral dividends” really paying off.

    You are correct, The government does an excellent job of controlling public outcry on a local basis. It seems like the other thing they have going for them is “apathy” from the population not directly effect by the terrorists.

    We need to be more outraged as a country!

  2. VR,

    I’m not an expert on this subject, but the logic of vote banks, in its simplified forms relies on empirical evidence of (a) minority voters voting in blocs, by and large, and (b) lower turnout among the non-minority voters. The result gives the minority voters the power to swing results.

    This logic can fail if (a) non-minority voters turn up in larger numbers and vote for a single party and/or (b) minority voters vote as a bloc, but against the presumed beneficiary.

  3. I keep hearing on and off about Congress government being soft on terror because many of the terrorists claim to be Muslims and that they’re doing it for religious reasons.

    Is there someplace where I can read the specifics? Like which legal actions by the police or intelligence agencies were blocked by UPA because the targets would be largely Muslims? Or is there inherently something “pseudo-secular” in the way our police and security establishment is set up? I am not able to grasp it still.

    The BJP also has dropped the ball here. All I hear from them is POTA, TADA etc. They should communicate exactly how Congress is being communal and why that’s coming in the way of stopping terrorists.

  4. @Pramod:

    The first ‘legal action’ which comes to mind is not hanging Afzal Guru. The government’s allies Laloo and Mulayam have openly come out in the favour of SIMI. At the time of the Mumbai blasts investigations, there were reports that the police was told not to ‘target any particular community’. What hell is that supposed to mean, apart from not going after Muslims ?

  5. I think there is also a third point in addition to Nitin’s first two points:

    c) fragmentation of non-minority votes among many parties in a way that their viewpoint becomes a minority in the party that comes to power. Or, if does not become a minority, at least one that cannot swing the result by itself.

    Think of caste divisions as an example resulting in one party getting the minority votes as a bloc.

  6. @Pramod,

    Blaming the BJP for dropping the ball doesn’t absolve the UPA of pussyfooting on terrorism. London, New York, Madrid and heck Bali had attacks too. Are our cops so gaye guzre that they can’t do better? I think not.

    So will you accept that the Congress is guilty of abject non performance on countering terrorism?

  7. Come to think of it, IM has “Indian” in front of it. Wonder what they were thinking when they christened the group. Since when does being an Indian and engaging in jihad go together?

  8. @Pramond: ever heard of Shah Bano Case? A congress government with 2/3rd majority, overthrowing a Supreme Court Verdict in parliament, just to please a bunch of mullahs.
    Here’s another one : India, first country to ban Satanic Verses.

    @VR : 13% is a deceptive figure in a parliament democracy. It’s how that 13% vote is spread across the constituency is what counts. It is possible that 13% of Muslim votes are spread in a way that they affect 30% of seats. For example UP,Assam,Bihar,WBengal, Kerela, AP have substantial Muslim population that can affect majority of Parliament seats. And these states have bulk of Parliament seats.

  9. It is the most ridiculous thing we hear all the time that minority vote would be affected. No Indian Muslim has any sympathy with SIMI or any other similar group.

    However, this myth continues to grow. The frustration of Muslims is that they are always in the dock. Today it is terrorism. Earlier, when there was no such terrorism, the Muslims were targeted for being ‘pro-Pakistani’.

    Muslims are also expected to say and condemn louldy such acts. They do. In mosques, in small functions, holding dharnas but of course they lack PR skills. In mass media there share is negligible.

    Vote bank! Even in case of N-deal we heard it. I had written a post on my blog then also that ordinary Muslim goes with the national interest.

    In fact, Muslims would be grateful to everybody and relieved if the real culprits are caught and given harshest possible sentence.

  10. Thanks Pramod for asking for specifics, I’ve wondered too.

    I think when it gets down to the business end of policing there may not be much difference. There is a lot of posturing, abt IMs have the “first claim on the nation’s resources”, “losing sleep over Md. Haneef” etc that is as much calculated to draw adverse commentary from the BJP as it is to “appease” the target community, stratifying and cementing the divisions.

    My sympathies are with Adnan above for his comment, but I do wish he and his community step up and resist the posturing of the secularati.

    That said, I think there are measurable differences in the ways some local rabble in various cities may get away with not being probed / arrested when the UPA calls the shots.

    In my view at least, there is another set of rabble that enjoys similar privilege when and where the BJP and allies are in power.

    The tragedy for us is that both sides will probably continue to shield “their” guys.


  11. Pramod,

    In response to your specific query, I think rollback of POTA is what is cited as a votebanking sop most often. In an informative comment thread way back on Acorn, somebody (Cupid?) said that most of the operative aspects of POTA are still in place and its misleading to say there is no POTA, its only that some aspects of it are gone that are more draconian.

    That’s one thing. The will of the present government to implement any of it, if they are wary of a perceived votebank sensitivity, is probably quite another thing.


  12. Whats cooking there? Does anyone have more info on this news?

    Pressure mounts on Shivraj Patil to quit?
    NEW DELHI: All top Congress leaders except Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil have been invited to a key Congress meeting on the Delhi serial blasts, according to sources.

    The home minister has been excluded from the important meeting.

  13. >>>13% is a deceptive figure in a parliament democracy. It’s how that 13% vote is spread across the constituency is what counts. It is possible that 13% of Muslim votes are spread in a way that they affect 30% of seats. For example UP,Assam,Bihar,WBengal, Kerela, AP have substantial Muslim population that can affect majority of Parliament seats. And these states have bulk of Parliament seats.

    UP, BIhar and WBengal, Congress is not going to make much headway. Though AP has significant muslim population, AP elections are more driven by farmer concerns rather than religion. Kerela, the state elections atleast, is a yo-yo between congress and communists. Furthermore, kerela has significant christian population and u cannot appease them both at the same time. Electroal benefits for congress will be in states such as Maharastra, central India, Rajasthan, maybe gujarat. In the south, they depend on their allies except for kerela.

  14. Here’s how you can tell the chaprasi in cheif, how exactly you feel about his govt’s non-existent ‘fight’ against terror! Feel free to REALLY let him know exactly how you feel, I just did, in choice language, this eunuch deserves no respect!


  15. @Pramod

    very pertinent question. Both strategically and operationally, I dont see any difference in BJP’s and congress’s response to terror, which to understate, has been most inept. Unless one really believes that reenacting POTA would be a major step forward – becos that is the only thing BJP has to offer. While i feel completely outraged at the repeated attacks carried out with such ease, I dont think our polity has even a fraction of the motivation that these Jihadis have to counter the threat. For that matter, the society itself is not really bothered – as the papers would report, life is back to normal in acouple of days, though not becos of the inherent ‘resilence’ of the people as the media loves to report, but simply becos we dont care.

  16. @sai

    That sounds like we have won. And the jihadis will always lose. Come to think of it, that is exactly how India has won throughout history. Who remembers the Greeks, Huns, Afghans, Turks, Mongols and Europeans any more. We on the other hand are still here. Same it will be with these dead enders.

  17. Yea, if mere survival is victory, you are right. But then the history of our “victory” is littered with brutalized societies, destroyed economies and countless corpses. If victroy is this painful, shudder to think what defeat would mean..

  18. on the issue of minority votebanks, Iwhat comes to mind is that brillinat quote by Shashi Tharoor, that in India, everyone is a minority! No wonder, politicians hanker after the largest minority group.

  19. Sai,

    I’m not sure when Mr Tharoor said it, but in the inaugural editorial of Pragati I’ve written that India is a country of a billion minorities.

    On Udayan’s point—I think survival itself is a major achievement, especially over long historical periods. As Incas, Mayas, Iroquois and Mororis won’t tell you (because they are not around to tell you) it is something.

    This is not to say that apathy must be celebrated. Past performance is never a guarantee of future results.

  20. Yea, I dont deny survival over such a long period is really something, though I really dunno if it is just a lucky accident (or providence or miracle) or if it is due to the resilience of the indian civilization – probably its a combination of both ; be that as it may, we should aim to do much better than what we have done over the past millenia – which has, as a rule (with honorable eceptions) been to offer weak resistance to all kind of aggressors, whether it is the invading Arabs or Mongols or the EI Company with absolutely catastrophic consequences.

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