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'India not serious about dealing with terrorism'

November 28, 2008 02:58 IST

The Indian government's lack of seriousness in dealing with terrorism is the reason terrorists keep on striking in the country, according to Sumit Ganguly, director of the India Studies Institute at Indiana University.

"I think the way they struck -- in an extraordinarily violent and sweeping fashion -- was possible because India has not been serious enough about addressing the terrorist threat. One does not have to agree with (Bharatiya Janata Party leader) L K Advani to reach this conclusion," Ganguly, holder of the Rabindranath Tagore Professorship in Indian Cultures and Civilizations, told rediff.com.

'India should not blame Pakistan for Mumbai terror attack'

He, however, noted that India has responded very well in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Mumbai.

"They have not panicked, and they are proceeding systematically. All that is very creditable," Ganguly said.

He was quick to add, "Simply saying 'we will maintain our resolve in the face of this terrorist threat' is not enough. It is one thing to maintain your resolve after bombs go off and quite another to develop serious database of terrorists, to go after them, to disrupt the network and to make this a national priority," Ganguly said.

Pix: Trident under attack 

"I just do not see the evidence for that. This attitude has emboldened some people," he said.

Ganguly agreed that the timing of the terror attack on India's financial capital was significant, right after the peaceful polls in Jammu and Kashmir and only a week before the USIBC was slated to take a large delegation of nuclear power companies.

Was this an attempt to hit the growing US-India relationship, especially on the economic front?

Funerals have begun

"That is clearly one element. This is a message (for India) that getting too close to the United States will cost them. Also, it is designed to undermine India's financial stability," Ganguly said.

"Why not strike somewhere else? Why Mumbai, the place expatriates and Americans frequent. It is clearly designed to send a message that India is an unsafe place to do business," Ganguly said.

He said that there is no point talking about the terrorist attack now. "What's the point of talking about it? Why has it (a national plan to fight terrorism) not been done on a war footing? ," he said.

Gunbattle rages on

"I think outside Iraq, India has seen the largest number of terrorist attacks in the past year. This is not an occasional episode. This has become a routine sort of calamity and when it becomes so, the government) should treat it as a national priority. It is not something that you respond to in an ad hoc fashion, however well you respond after the attack," Ganguly said.

Speaking on Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's statement, that India should not react in a knee-jerk fashion, Ganguly said, "Of course he has to say that. He cannot say that 'let me see if one of our people did this.'"

PM speaks up

"I talked to a retied Indian diplomat and he said that a ship came from Karachi. Of course, Pakistan would say that 'we have nothing to do it', which may be true.  But what worries me is the statement by PM Singh that terrorists were based outside the country," Ganguly said.

"Dr Singh is not given to pointing fingers and drawing some quick conclusions unless he has some kind of evidence," he said. "Nonetheless, one should not draw any conclusion right away (about the origin of the terrorist attack)," Ganguly said.

Groups behind attacks based outside India: PM

Suman Guha Mozumder