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'This is an undeclared war'
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July 31, 2006
Arun Bhagat, former director, Intelligence Bureau, assesses the terrorist threat to India after the July 11 blasts in Mumbai:

The scale of terrorist violence has increased in the last eight, nine months.

The target areas have also shifted from north India, from Jammu and Kashmir [Images], from Delhi, to the hinterland.

It was easy for the terrorists to launch operations in northern India from their bases in Jammu and Kashmir. But if they are targeting the hinterland they must have established a network in the hinterland.

Pakistan has not given up its terror card. Pakistan has invested far too much in terrorism to suddenly give it up one day. The ISI (Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency) is too deeply involved in terrorism.

Gujarat is just an excuse for the recent acts of terrorism. The real reason is that the terrorists want to spread the flag of Islam. The foot soldiers are brainwashed into believing this. These people are brainwashed and motivated very thoroughly.

We have to relook at some of our policies. Our foreign policy, for instance, which may be provoking some people. Or policies like removing POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). We cannot attack a problem like terrorism using a goldsmith's calipers. We need a bulldozer for it. The Indian Penal Code was formulated to tackle local crimes, not something like terrorism.

Keeping the police alert all the time is difficult. The Indian citizen has to be aware that this is an undeclared war and will exist on a long-term basis. Therefore, s/he has to be inquisitive to the point of being intrusive. Someone will say 'You are encroaching on my privacy.' But it is time to stop minding one's business. In Punjab, (during the troubles there in the 1980s and early 1990s), every citizen became conscious and that is how terrorism came to be fought.

Unless they are apprehended, I believe, the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai blasts are likely to act again. Then again, if they are apprehended, other modules may be activated to spread terrorism.

It is time Muslims got up and told the terrorists that terrorism is not our religion.

As told to correspondents

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