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How can we stem terror?
August 18, 2006
Part I : 7/11 & after: Understanding terror
How do we counter and curb this hydra-headed monster called terrorism?
An act of terrorism is the result or consequence of the combination of four factors:
The first and foremost requirement is to counter this radical/jihadi ideology.
How to impact the minds of the young, how to divert them from the path of hate, intolerance and violence, how to demotivate the believers from the clutches of false dreams of an all-blissful paradise, how to inspire the generation to seek true happiness and peace of mind � are some of the vital questions which require the urgent attention of psychologists, educationists, strategists, parents, politicians and planners.
The 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.
Simultaneously, we have to plan how to deactivate and attack the bad kind of ideas, which foster hate and violence. Some possible measures:
The various streams and plurality of religions are creating contradictions and conflict in society. If all religions lead to truth, peace and happiness, then what is need for so many religions? Such populism must stop. If different religions are all the same and non-contradictory � why is there this variety? 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 a single platform and declare that religion means only one thing � the courage to follow righteousness or right conduct in life. The core of religion is the conduct that what we expect of others, we must do to others. Religion is not something private, something individualistic, but a social phenomenon, a universal acceptance.
Similarly, we have to debunk the Clash of Civilisations theory advocated by Professor Samuel Huntington.
How can we divide physics, chemistry, maths, medical science, psychology etc into Christian, Muslim or Hindu sciences? The educationists and planners must rethink the role and design of our education system. There is a need to introduce a comparative study of all religions in our schools and colleges. Let a pupil choose which one is the best for him/her. Why do we want to chain a human being -- who is born free -- like a pet animal to fixed religious rituals or beliefs?
Such education would liberate man from dogma, pangs of fanaticism and acts of terrorism. If we want peace, let us not disturb the peace of others.
The advanced science and technology of today has not found any fourth or seventh sky, heaven or paradise in any part of the universe. Hell or heaven is 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 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 Internet sites providing terrorist manuals, encyclopedia of violence, techniques of bomb-making and other details and training of strategic fieldcraft.
Can't we think of some strategy to ban such sites or to punish persons misusing the medium for sowing the seeds of hate and violence in impressionable minds?
We have umpteen instances where social, religious and political groups demand -- and succeed -- banning books which have some unpalatable lines or paragraphs. But we have hundreds of books available in the market and being taught in different schools, madrasas 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 too.
Let us not sacrifice our national priorities and international commitments, and the peace of our present and future generations, for temporary electoral or political interests. Many of our policies are dividing the society -- in the name of caste, creed and community. Many of our educational institutions are organized and run on ethnic, linguistic and religious denominations.
If we wish to stem the growth of radical ideology, the administration has irrevocably to develop and enforce the concept of zero tolerance.
Our ideology has to be more powerful to counter this radical ideology. It must appeal to the hearts and minds of people, especially the youth.
Will the jihadi elements listen to the meaning of 'jihad in life' in the words of teh great poet Iqbal? He had sung the couplet :
The second and most important constituent of terrorism is its perpetrators. How do we deal with the terrorists?
They are generally brainwashed and committed people who are unwilling to accept any compromise, nor are they open to dialogue or discussion. They are ready to die or kill. You cannot change them. The solution is to arrest or eliminate them. People who kill innocent people, women and children deserve no human rights.
We should learn a lesson from the US, where no defence counsel came forward to defend the terrorists of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The police too must go beyond the 'body-arms-kg' count approach -- like number of arrests, seizure of arms and ammunitions or quantity of explosives. The intelligence and security agencies as well as the citizens have to take on the collaborators, supporters, contributors, sympathizers who fund, recruit, train and shelter terrorists. No one should directly or indirectly defend them in the name of community or creed. It is a virus worse than the HIV.
The intelligence and security agencies as well as dealers and users of ingredients which can be used for explosives have to tighten their grip on the movement of explosives, arms and ammunition, satellite phones etc. Effective check on the movement of these facilitators is of utmost importance.
Forensic experts should play a major role in the evaluation of intelligence regarding the new modus operandi in forgeries, travel documents, motor driving licenses, ration cards, use of weapons and explosives and remote control and detection techniques.
If we want peace, harmony and progress, we have to inculcate peace and security consciousness among all our countrymen.
As President APJ Abdul Kalam advised recently, India needs a national campaign for the eradication of terrorism, for which the entire government machinery needs to be geared up. As in France in 1986, there is a need to bring in a legislation to ensure that every government department has a counterterrorism wing to understand its philosophy and danger. They have to wholeheartedly support the intelligence and security agencies in this regard.
We must also repose more faith in the police machinery, mainly by amending Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act which renders the police unreliable in courts of law.
The publicity and information department in government establishments has to be revisited, strengthened and made more professional.
Our schools, colleges, universities and institutions, our social clubs, our platforms of art, craft and culture, our films, television and media have to put their heads together to create and sustain a campaign against any kind of extremist or terrorist ideology or act.
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 to defeat.
Dr Satya Pal Singh is the Inspector General of Police, Navi 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