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No politics in fighting terror

December 23, 2008 12:28 IST
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What are India's options after the Mumbai terror attacks?

What must India do, strategically and procedurally, to ensure that the nation does not ever again endure a brutality like the terrorism Mumbai encountered last fortnight?

Please contribute your views (in 400 words or less) to We suggest you list your recommendations; you can expand briefly on each item.

We look forward to a discussion so educative and illuminating that the guardians of our national security can learn from what you readers suggest.

R Narayana Swamy says:

I feel the following should be what India should do:

1. Take up the matter at the Security Council where any diversions like Kashmir should not be allowed.

2. In collaboration with the civilised countries of the West the nuclear weapons in Pakistan should be removed and the nuclear installations there dismantled.

3. Serious steps should be taken to split Pakistan into two or three states (say, Baluchistan, Sind and Pashtunistan -- option can be given to them to join India).

4. United States should be asked to stop all military supply to Pakistan.

5. Terrorists and those aiding them should be tried and given mandatory death sentence without prolonged litigation.

These steps will take time, but should be pursued vigorously.

Kirti Bhatt says:

1. First of all don't allow the US to interfere in our matter.

2. We need strong leadership like Indira Gandhi's for taking hard decision independently at any time without having fear of US or UN or any other authority or fear of losing an election.

3. Identify the corrupt people in the security system and remove them.

4. Government asks Pakistan each time to hand over 20 terrorists including Dawood, Chhota Shakeel and many more. Why this demand only when they attack Mumbai?

There are still many points to consider but I have mentioned only a few of them.

Readers Options 1: Set up a federal investigation agency

Juzar Choonawala says:

How many times does India want to provide evidence against Pakistan for terrorism which the whole world knows including India, that India will never be able to bend Pak to accept the evidence? No country will ever accept, no matter how true our evidence is.

Despite the pressures from all countries including the US and India, terrorist groups within POK and extremists, Pak is able to dictate its terms boldly against India which clearly shows India's weakness in the world. India is far more economically stronger than Pak but not stronger than Pak's willpower to have a say in the world.

As you need different tools and methods for different kinds of work, the same way non-violence for India cannot work always for all situations.

Sujit Lahiry says:

At a macro level the choices before India are:

Terrorism in now an international problem requiring international force: press for a resolution and create a UN force to investigate terrorism across the border and punish the perpetrators in international courts, over and above national level investigations. No nation should be able to keep Dawood hiding for 15 long years, like Pakistan has been doing.

Create a Central Intelligence and Anti Terrorism Force within India.

Increase intelligence sharing with like-minded nations and use common technology to make borders impenetrable; for example the US, Israel, the UK and India can join hands to develop a cost effective technology which does not allow even a bird or a fish to cross the border unnoticed. This technology can also be used in the inefficient and corrupt inter-state 'nakas'.

Revamp domestic intelligence and policing set-up; men, machine and competence;

Remove 20 pc most inefficient and most corrupt men from state police, BSF, customs, Coast Guard, RAW etc through secret ballot within such force.

Infuse 20 pc fresh blood into the above forces with psychologically screened youth who are ready to die for the nation.

EC to ban politicisation of terror events.

Create a central economic offence force to throttle 'dirty money' and excess of 'black money' in unsafe hands. Liquid assets of people wanted in several heinous crimes may be frozen even if they are MPs.

Introduce ID cards for all Indians on the lines of SSN in US.

Address the root cause for long term benefit; use diplomacy, military & economic force. Let us face the fact that Pakistan has cancer, several parts of Pakistan are ungovernable -- it requires surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Until NWFP, Waziristan, POK etc are brought into the mainstream and made reasonably prosperous, international terrorism cannot stop. People there have no better things to do than join terrorism and become local heroes.

Recent history tells us that India will gain nothing if it mobilises one million men on Punjab, Rajasthan and Kashmir borders but if it can place even 10,000 troops on the west side of Pakistan -- say in Afghanistan, it will gain a very strategic edge. The present government of Afghanistan will be too glad to accept it. Afghanistan is too small a country by population and it can be made prosperous with our aid -- setting an example for the unruly region.

Readers Options 2: War is not a solution

Debashish Chakraborty says:

It is really shocking that after 60 years of Independence we are still demanding our security in free India.

The spate of terror attacks during the last couple of months in different cities of India has created a scenario that no citizen of India and foreigners are also unsafe in the land of the Buddha .India has produced great patriots and freedom-fighters and some of them despite being from good families and intellect of the highest order sacrificed their life for their motherland.

It is really a pity that we are not able to salute their bravery.

The recent terror attack has put a dent in our intelligence network. No coordination among different agencies and lack of foresight and vision to act are alarming feedbacks.

I do feel citizens' participation is of utmost importance to curtail such attacks. In the current scenario people have to support the police force in eradicating terror.

We should have dynamic leaders with impeccable competence in their workplace and integrity.

My thought process is to involve every individual above the age of 18 years in military training for about a year so that they can contribute in unforeseen situations. NCC is generally a thing of the past with very few students opting for NCC or Scouts and Guide.

Citizens have to keep their eyes and ears open to counter such grave situations by better forecasting and support to the police.

Our police personnel, commandos and defence personnel should be rewarded through better salaries.

My ardent appeal that teachers who are at the forefront of building future generations should not be deprived of their worth and good academics should be rewarded accordingly, and also the personnel in uniform.

I do feel corporates and ex-military personnel should be involved in better governance and policing.

Viren Krishanakant Shah says:

1. Make a separate group of NSG in every town or city in India. Group of at least 50,000 security commandos.

2. Give them authority so no need to wait for orders, no politics involved.

3. Give the death penalty to every terrorist.

4. Stop all new channels which are driving the people on the wrong side or just filter them.

5. LoC should be blocked; any authorised entry, death penalty.

6. Make one security leader commando, who is responsible for making the things tight for their own town and pay them more.

7. Double the police force; persons who are old or having big tummy, ask them to leave the job as they are not helping us.

8. Every single person in security should have a gun and jacket in order to protect himself. Security commandos should be able to order police state. No politician can do any thing.

9. Remove all unnecessary security to politicians and usage of money to be utilised for public security.

10. Places like gardens, malls, cinema halls should keep at least groups of 50 commandos. Proceed with the plan state wise.

Readers Options 3: Be united, peaceful and strong

Govind Das Dujari says:

I have great doubt in my mind if Pakistan will hand over wanted criminals to India. Why would Pakistan want these high profile criminals to spill the beans in India and create more trouble and recurring problems for Pakistan? However, even if Pakistanis are pushed to the wall and forced to hand them over, we might get their dead bodies killed in "encounters". Moreover, even if we get them alive the second one in the hierarchy will become the boss of the well-oiled machinery and terrorism will go on unabated. Hence, there is need to destroy the source or breeding point.  

Jagdish Gujar says:

1. Just make sure that all our borders are well guarded -- land/sea/air.

2. Stop all relations with Pakistan -- no trade, no Wagah border, no train/bus, no sports.

3. Talk about getting back Kashmir.

4. Protect ourselves -- Pak will destroy itself. The US will realise its mistake and attack Pakistan one day when many US/UK citizens will die because of Pak terrorists.

HVM says:

India's stand has to change at least now.

Diplomatic talk to buy time is a thing of the past. You've got to give a fitting reply to the Mumbai attacks. Convincing Pakistan of terrorist camps is like trying to awaken who is acting like being asleep. You can awaken someone who is sleeping but not who is acting. If our government doesn't think of doing so, then we the people of India will do the same with the present government.

The government really needs to choose its option

Amar Varia says:

Much tighter airport security.

Checks on inter-state travel on ground.

Stronger border security, eg, Bangladesh, Pakistan, LoC, Gujarat, Assam.

Strengthen navy (all parts of the coast including waters between India and Sri Lanka).

Clean out the police system, pay the police properly, send out a clear warning that taking bribes is like aiding terrorism. I have seen more bad cops hassling local small businesses for money than I have seen them helping the same local people when they need help. When challenged they say their boss or higher command tell them to extort the money which they split back at HQ.

Do not reveal vital security information to major media outlets. I have seen security and anti-terrorist measures being openly discussed on TV channels and other media outlets. If I was a terrorist from that region, I would be very aware of what to expect and how to avoid it. Keep security on a need to know basis. 

Put money into a new national security intelligence agency backed up with up-to-date technology. India is a technology powerhouse, this should not be an issue. Put money into training. Pay the employees of this inter-state organisation deserved wages. Vet their credentials extremely and history before employment. The agency should be on par with organisations such as FBI, CIA and MI6/5. Major activities from citizens such as applying to become a pilot, working for the police, navy, opening a business should have their details vetted and stored with this agency. They should be careful however to avoid creating more paranoia within the nation and keep their activities low key. 

Root out bribery. Make national ad campaigns. Ridicule those who bribe. Show how taking a simple bribe could aid a terror plot.

Do not allow unregistered mullahs to teach in Muslim or non-Muslim institutions.

Tighter controls on Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Afghanistani nationals visiting the country. Only allow those who can offer something to India, eg, business, the arts. The vagueness of "student" or "leisure" can be seen as a flaw in security measures. Reassess this only when the Kashmir situation has been sorted out or if relations with Pakistan are positive.

Utilise CCTVs more. Have them in every single train station, leisure resort, internet cafe no matter how small. Have the larger places manned, again pay the man so he actually does his job. Give employees incentives.

Use the information age to digitise paper-based information on people such as birth/death certification in administration offices. Only allow select agencies and people to have access to this information

Try to minimise external help where problems with Pakistan are concerned, eg, the US and EU. We are big enough to handle these kinds of issues and capable of facing the consequences.

Readers Options 4: Tighten internal security

Ramani Balasubramanian says:

India has been suffering continuously at the hand of the terrorists. The current Mumbai carnage has made us resolve to end this menace once and for all. To accomplish safety within our country:

1. We need to extradite the terrorists responsible and Dawood Ibrahim.

2. Even if India does not have an extradition treaty, we need to invoke that by international coalition. Failure to get them this time means this heinous act will repeat.

3. Have a security mechanism built into the entire nation. This should be in all leading cities, hotels, railway stations, airports etc. This would mean investing in security and could lead to higher employment.

4. Cut off all trade and cultural ties with Pakistan and show them that this is a nation that is boiling with anger.

5. There should be no politics in fighting terror.

6. Show unity as a nation. Do not engage in petty fights like beating up Biharis in Maharashtra and similar political styles in Tamil Nadu. Show the world that we are one. Only then we can fight this terror from repeating.

7. Be cautious in dealing with nations like China who provide covert support to Pakistan.

Reshma006 says:

I believe that India should tighten its security along its borders, both coastal and inland.

India is a country which supports ahimsa or non-violence but that doesn't mean you should be liberal to the criminals. I think the law here is very liberal compared to other countries.

Always remember terrorist or any other enemies of our country have taken advantage of our ahimsa and religious harmony which are considered plus points of our country.

Kannan Sivaraman says:

I have a four-point agenda that I would like the government and the entire spectrum of political parties to consider:

First, let there be a conscious recognition that the scourge of terrorism is going to stay globally and is going to threaten the peace and security of the world citizenry. The Mumbai terror attacks having exposed the vulnerabilities of our homeland to a degree that the nation's deterrence capability has been gravely undermined, the need of the hour is to expand, upgrade and reinforce the reach of central intelligence, provincial constabulary, special protection force, national security guard and such systems and equipment as necessary.

Second, let us first secure our land and sea borders in such a way as to render them practically impenetrable from the invasion of outside forces. With almost 8000 km of coastal line, 12 major ports and about 180 mini ports, the challenges are huge. If we systematically start investing our resources towards strengthening our borders, it is certainly achievable in a matter of 5 to 10 years from now.

Third and perhaps most important, let there be a consensus among all political parties towards engaging our neighbours ( particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan, & Bangladesh) in a constructive one-on-one relationship predicated on building trade and commerce, people-to-people contact and promotion of tourism for the common good of the entire population in the sub-continent.

Fourth and perhaps the most contentious of all, let us build an understanding among BJP (that includes the Sangh Parivar) and the Congress to the immediate prospect of restoring the Babri Masjid to its original state (pre-December 6, 1992) and show some magnanimity in locating the Ram temple to a near-by site. This move will assuage the sentiments of the aggrieved Muslim population and bring them on board with the majority Hindus towards nation-building and strengthening of the Indian polity.

Conceding the demands of minority is by no means a sign of weakness. It takes courage and an enlightened leadership to see the wisdom of uniting disparate and warring elements into a strong and cohesive social fabric across the country.

Lastly, let there be a sincere expression of sorrow on the part of BJP for what happened in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Sabarmati Express incident.

I am sure the above steps will lead to the much needed harmony and peace in India and allow the country to focus its energies towards the uplift of the marginalised sections of the society and enable them to participate in the economic development of the nation as a whole.

K Shimpi says:

1. Build strong police and commando force in each big city first.

2. Provide commando and police protection to nuclear stations, airports, bridges, dams, and heritage sites.

3. Maintain pressure on US to strike at militant camps.

4. We should not strike back at militant camps; instead maintain pressure on US and Pak to react.

5. We should inform International Monetary Fund to monitor recent aid announced to Pak and if possible put pressure on IMF to provide reports to US and India about their fund usage.

6. Maintain pressure on Interpol to react and ask for top 10 wanted people hiding in Pak Interpol must react.

7. Cut all trading relations with Pak and compete with exports for Pak; whatever Pak exports to the UK and US; compete with them in those commodity business and markets.

8. If Mumbai like incident again happens with no US intervention and no other option, hit the militants hard and on the spot.

Anoop Patnaik says:

Understand very well the Pak Islamist Army and ISI fundamentalists run Pakistan. Their goal is to weaken India by bleeding it, eventually to break it and then Islamise it. Therefore, they will never stop terrorising India, particularly with the nukes as a deterrent they think will prevent Indian military response. There will never be a Kumbhaya solution at all ever.

Short Term Action

Divert all rivers that flow from India into Pak with a clear intent to starve them into compliance.

Mid-Term Action

Settle any willing landless person from any Indian state in Kashmir. Provide them with training and latest weapons to protect their plot of land. Clear objective to bring about a demographic change of Muslim vs non-Muslim to 20:1 or more. This along with even heavier Army deployment on the LOC / IB.

Long Term Action

Also need a culture change from national revocation of pacifist appeasement mindset to an assertive one. This is a much important issue. Mandatory mental rehabilitation may be needed to successfully accomplish the culture change starting in kindergarten. Mandatory boxing and fight skill training to all high school students. NCC should be mandatory activity, not optional.

Christopher Smith says:

Change the Constitution and build checks and balances. Ensure accountability of politicians by strengthening institutions. Let police/CBI report to chief justice or independent agency. This will put some fear and respect for law in the netas.

Outlaw caste/religion based political parties

Invade POK and go after terror camps

Return Babri masjid to Muslims.

Bobby Malhotra says:

1. Enact a law similar to the US Second Amendment stating, 'Every Indian shall have the right to keep and bear arms, and this right shall not be infringed upon for any reason whatsoever'.

All through World War II Hitler never even thought of attacking Switzerland.  It was not because Switzerland was a neutral country.  No tyrant respects that type of designation.  It was because every Swiss allowed to vote was expected to keep a gun or two, know how to use it and expected to keep in practice regularly or lose their citizenship.  The Nazis first confiscated people's guns before shipping them off to concentration camps. 

The US has the Second Amendment but the UK does not. That is why in the UK you can be jailed for defending your home from robbers who you catch in the act while in the US the police will not charge you with anything if you defend your home from robbers, thieves, etc. The UK has seen its crime rate increase while it's been reducing in the US.   

2. Take back completely one of the disputed territories, either Pak-controlled Kashmir, or any of the areas in the Northeast. Do not hesitate, do not prevaricate, do not grant the enemy a millimetre, do not make excuses, do not accept excuses. 

A standard strategy to deal with bully in the playground is the following: consider one bully that you can defeat completely, publicly, thoroughly. Kick the living daylights out of this bully. You'll find that the other bullies will treat you with more respect and stop bullying you. The US followed this strategy in its attack on Iraq. It hasn't had an attack on its home soil since 9/11.

3. Enable and fund the Armed Forces to set up recruitment offices in colleges. The war ahead will be long and hard. We'll need all the willing and able hearts and minds we can find.

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