Anna Effect on Delhi Blast

We all know that terrorist groups like claiming responsibility for terror attacks. The reason is not always to mislead, unless there is a syndicate involved. This is power by default, like college Romeos pointing out to sundry girls and saying, “She is mine”. 

Yesterday, September 7, at 10.15 am, there was a blast near the main gate of the reception area of the Delhi High Court.12 people have died and over 70 injured. The bomb was in a briefcase. The questions will be about everything except an unattended briefcase. 

The Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) sent an email to the media: 

"We own the responsibility for today's blasts at Delhi high court. Our demand is that Mohammed Afzal Guru's death sentence should be repealed immediately else we would target major high courts and the Supreme Court of India."

Believable? Yes. Except that other terrorist groups have also jumped in, and the suspects are from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to wherever the HuJI operates from.

The media cacophony has begun, and I am still restricting it to the print media. Read this bit from a Rediff report:

Considering that the blast has taken place outside a court, there are two angles that will come under the scanner. The first would point towards someone who is upset with the judiciary, or someone has had a case lodged there.

The other obvious angle would be terror, and by carrying out a blast outside the court a message is being sent out regarding the various cases being tried against some of the accused of both the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen.

Is this some version of the Ramlila grounds, where angry over certain issues people are taking over and pushing for ‘reform’? This implicates several innocent people, including undertrial prisoners. We have had a few rare cases of shootouts in the courtroom itself, so it is facile to suggest that because it took place outside a court someone was “upset with the judiciary”. Everyone is upset with cases dragging on, including people filing for divorce, and there are thousands of cases lodged there.

Now we come to the “obvious angle”. Despite the reference to Afzal Guru, why does the report dig out SIMI and the IM?

Let me give two angles here:

  1. After the Rajiv killers’ delayed sentence by the Tamil Nadu High Court and Assembly, certain sections of the media want to ensure that it is not seen as a precedent for Afzal Guru. Keeping silent about any mention of him is smart.  
  2. It is good opportunity to work on some home-grown terror groups, especially the Johnies-come-lately, because there is obfuscation regarding their motives and they are easier to round up as suspects.

The government has put the Delhi Police on the backburner immediately and given the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Newspapers call it a “no-confidence motion” against the police force. The fact that the NIA has already arrested three people in Kishtwar is laudable, but makes one wonder:

  • That was quick.
  • The Kashmir angle will give the government its own ammo to deal with Afzal Guru rather than be seen as following HuJI’s diktat.
  • Did the Intelligence Bureau know that the judiciary would be targeted? Even if it did, how could it handle the situation? Insist that people tag along sniffer dogs with them?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said:

"There are obviously unresolved problems and weaknesses in our system and the terrorists are taking advantage of that. We must work hard to plug those weaknesses."

I am afraid but the job of terrorists and their ideology is not geared to merely take advantage of weaknesses. When they set their minds to something, they plan it and they can enter the most fortified citadel. It is one power centre against another. It is pretty disgusting to read what one IB source said:

"It is too early to call this is a terror attack. It appears to be a low intensity blast, and the modus operandi for now looks like it is the job of some miscreants… but we are still investigating."

This is surprising because there was no such mention of miscreants in the Mumbai Zaveri Bazar, Dadar case. Then there was talk about how outside forces were jealous of India’s economic progress. Honestly, during the London riots too no one went to Bond Street. And please do not get into the 26/11 Taj/Trident hotels reference. These were two places among others – and the idea, besides the terrorist one, was to ensure live telecast. The case has still not been resolved since we are waiting for Godot.

This seems to be the pattern. However, the IB, according to some reports, believes that such blast patterns could also mean that “there are several fringe elements on the loose capable of carrying out such attacks”.

What is surprising is that there have been some of us who have often talked about looking at the criminal angle, outside of the terror motive, but it was always the terror angle and the war on it that took up prime space. So, why this change in stand? Why is there an attempt at a more cautious approach, which should be as a matter of course?

One might assume that this sobriety makes better sense as compared to the earlier prominent ones. Perhaps from the point of the government, yes. But is it the Anna effect where hitting out at the establishment does not make the ‘enough is enough’ brigade start their chest-thumping since they are supposed to ‘fight’ the government machinery?

Look at a couple of quotes that seem like a hangover of the rally.

“India is seen soft targets for terror attacks as political system protects only its own” – Shekhar Kapur
“Wake up Mr. Home Minister. Please protect the citizens of this country. Innocent and ordinary lives are equally important” – Anupam Kher
While most who die in terrorist attacks are the innocents – just as it is the ordinary who immolate themselves for their heroes – there have been prominent people targeted as well. It would be frightening to think that this group overtakes the corrupt security agencies angle, a reality but it cannot explain such plots. Surely, this is not like match-fixing. 

Politicians, a naturally much-reviled species, are not the only ones playing politics. There are cries against Parliament being adjourned to express solidarity with the victims. Had they gone about the business, there would be flinging of slippers, banging of tables and shouting of slogans. How would that send out any signal that we will not be intimidated by terrorists? 

Parliament is in session when bomb blasts take place; politicians are in their constituencies.

Gestures of the government getting ‘back to work’ convey nothing. At best, they are akin to messages in a bottle.

(c) Farzana Versey

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