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Time to question

Time to question

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 28, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/341208.html

Introduction: Why are there such gaps in the Centre's political and procedural response to terror?

Terror is pathology. But so it seems, in India, is the government's response to terror. The one score and some serial bombs in Bangalore and Ahmedabad were met with cringe-inducing official harrumphs from Delhi that warnings had been given. It is time to ask what the Union government means when it says warnings were available. Is it the case that the Centre's, or specifically the home ministry's, radars are always buzzing efficiently with actionable information that is not acted upon by inefficient state governments? If so, why doesn't the Centre say it straight? They have a duty to the nation to say it. And if that is not the case, as one strongly suspects is not the case, why take this, to put it bluntly, awful way to pass the parcel? It has to be said, in the context of this trait, that the UPA's whole approach to terror has been scarily confusing.

The present home minister will demit office as having made a spectacular non-impression as far as his leadership of national security efforts go. It took the prime minister, that too after more than half of the UPA's term in office was over, to say Naxalites were a high-priority threat to the idea of India. Can you recall the home minister taking political leadership of this national security issue? Can you recall him owning up to his remit as home minister vis-a-vis terror? And let's remember that while strong and clear political positions are no guarantees against stopping terror, their absence severely weakens the government's fight against it.

More than four years after the UPA took over, not a single terror attack has been brought to closure in terms of catching the perpetrators and putting them through the mills of justice. There's investigative failure of a scale that would have in normal circumstances consumed the career of several ministers - but in the UPA the home ministry seems to have acquired immunity from even the most obvious of questions. It's long been known that security agencies are in part handicapped by a certain absurd notion of political correctness - a notion that implicates the very people it professes to protect. The convenient political assumption in India is that voters don't punish governments who appear to be ineffective against terror. This government really has pushed that assumption to its limit.

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