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Tackling terror's roots
August 25, 2005
After the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in New York and the 3/11 train bombings in Madrid, the 7/7 London blasts have again stunned the world.
These, and the frequent terrorist acts across the world in between, have shaken up and scared the common man and elite alike. The feeling of not being safe in any place is getting ingrained into the public psyche.
This psychological state of mind and our system's inability to predict or stop these acts of indiscriminate violence are taking their toll, hampering progress and growth.
Is a violence-free world possible?
Can our future be safe?
Can our children be secure?
These million dollar questions have been raised and debated since time immemorial.
Texts and treatises were written, conferences and workshops were held, communal-harmony seminars were organised.
But the results have not been very encouraging. It is time to think seriously about the miserable failure of the world community on the anti-terrorist front.
Apart from fighting the terrorists on the ground with sophisticated gadgetry and weaponry, it is very important to strategically and holistically plan how to stem and stop the growth of fundamentalism, fanaticism and extremism.
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Extreme forms of violence, like acts of terrorism, is a manifestation of hate. And hate, like love, is all in the mind.
Most of our anti-terror efforts are focusing on the physical aspects -- controlling the movements of suspects, transportation of materials (arms, ammunition, explosive etc.), freezing of finances, targeting the training camps etc.
But the core of extremism burns unabated in the furnace of brute hate.
Therefore, the arrests and elimination of terrorists, the freezing and seizing of finances, the uprooting of training camps is not going to help us much. New recruits, strange financiers, disgruntled managers of technology and training will keep on resurfacing in our society. The messengers of the creed and cult of violence will remain available locally and globally.
How do we impact the minds of young, to deviate them from the path of hate and violence?
How do we demotivate the believers from the clutches of false dreams of all-blissful paradise?
How do we inspire the new generation to seek true happiness and peace of mind?
These are some of the vital questions which require urgent attention of psychologists, educationists, strategists, parents, politicians and planners.
We must target causes of terrorism: Mahathir Mohamad
Modern society is a knowledge society. Knowledge has always been the harbinger of progress and peace.
But today, knowledge is universally available and accessible. Ideas create knowledge and so ideas rule the world. But the right kind of ideas must be used to create the right kind of vibrations in the mind. Simultaneously, we must plan how to deactivate and attack the wrong kind of ideas -- those which foster hate and violence.
The streams and plurality of religions are creating contradictions and conflict in society. If all religions lead to truth, peace and happiness in life, then what is need of so many religions? Such populism must stop.
If different religions are the same and uncontradictory -- why does the variety exist? And if they are different and contradictory, then how can they lead to harmony and peace in society?
Intellectuals, not religious teachers, of the world have to come on one platform and declare that religion means only one thing -- the courage to follow righteousness or the right conduct in life. The core of religion is to treat others as we would expect them to treat us.
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Religion is not something private and individualistic, but a social phenomenon with universal acceptance. The dharma of the sun is to give heat and light; the dharma of the earth is to give bounty of nature. The celestial bodies move in their own orbits, without disturbing others.
We must learn from nature to continue doing our individual work without interfering with others. Prayers are for peace, not for domination.
The law of nature teaches us that every action in our individual or social life produces an equal and opposite reaction. The law of conversion is also a universally accepted phenomenon. What we think or do gets converted into other forms of energy. If we want peace, let us not disturb the peace of others.
The advanced science and technology of today is yet to find heaven or paradise in any part of the universe. Hell or heaven is a part of this earth and the result of our doing. Misleading the youth and believers in the name of heaven or jannat is against the tenets of truth and humanity.
Today, because of the internet, there is an explosion of knowledge but the messiahs of violence are using this medium to spread hate and violence. There are hundreds of sites on the internet providing terrorists' manuals, encyclopedias of violence, techniques of bomb making and training of strategic field craft etc. The ingredients of bomb-making are available locally in almost all parts of the world. Software to derail and mislead investigators have also been created.
Can't we think of some strategy -- like banning such sites or punishing such persons misusing the medium and sowing seeds of hate and violence in world?
We have many instances of social, religious and political groups demanding and succeeding in banning some books which have some unpalatable lines or paragraphs.
WB govt bans Taslima Nasreen's book
But we have hundreds of books --available in markets, being taught in different schools, madrassas and seminaries -- which generate hate against other sections of society and help spread the fire of violence. We should have the courage to ban such books. We have to take action against schools and institutions which secretly and soberly harbour such intentions.
For our political selfish interests -- for power games, let us not sacrifice our national priorities and international commitments. Many of our policies are dividing society -- in the name of caste, creed and community.
Many of our educational institutions -- whose core business is to refine and educate, to dispel the distinction between man and man -- are organised and run on ethnic, linguistic and religious denominations. Let educational institutions be the pillars of light, messengers of love and gardeners of peace.
If we want harmony, peace and progress -- we have to work wholeheartedly. Half-hearted measures, cosmetic efforts and ceremonial lectures on communal harmony are destined for defeat.
Dr Satya Pal Singh is the Inspector General of Police, New Mumbai. He was earlier Joint Commissioner of Police ( Crime), Mumbai City, and has dealt extensively with the underworld, terrorism and other serious types of crime. He has written about three dozen articles on extremism, terrorism, economic crimes etc in national and foreign journals. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org