Imagine a situation where Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria or Afghanistan agencies were to "provide cover to the institutions facing terror threat", the institutions in question being mosques or other religious types. Unthinkable? Right.
Therefore, let us also feel as appalled over the Mumbai police initiative to get Israeli agencies to protect Jewish establishments that are on the terror radar. The rest of us depend on our cops, and there is absolutely no reason why any community should be given protection from outsiders. Israel does not have sole rights over Jews, most of whom are old settlers and indigenous people of India.
Although it is unlikely to happen, and neither Muslims nor Christians have ever expected foreign intelligence to come to their rescue, the reaction had any country been assigned to look after their interests would have raised eyebrows, if not downright condemnation.
That the police are depending on the macho talk of two Indian Mujahideen men is itself a bit surprising. Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar mentioned surveying four synagogues and spoke of plans "to abduct some Jewish people and hold them hostage, demanding the release of top IM functionaries from Indian jails".
One can understand if the Israeli Consulate gets involved 'diplomatically' if Israeli citizens are concerned, but not all Jews.
The security of the city, and of the country, is not something we can outsource. A police officer said:
"Israeli agencies have come up with several important defence strategies to combat attack and hostage situation. We are also keenly studying their method of hostage negotiation. Though we have our own method, additional input always helps."
This makes us sound ill-prepared and helpless. What negotiations has Israel managed with the Palestinians? Stopped supplies?
More worrying is this:
In a bid to check the preparedness of the policemen posted at the earmarked establishments, the department sent some "suspicious-looking people on motorbikes near synagogues". "We are happy that the police personnel posted there identified those people, who lurked around the spot posing as dummy terror suspects," added a senior police officer.
It would be interesting to see what these dummy suspects look like. This is extremely disturbing, for one can have a fair idea of what the cops have in mind. This would result in further stereotyping by the police force itself. Besides, if the terror suspects are so easy to recognise, why are they not nabbed? What about the IM guy who walked out of court just like that, from right under the nose of the cops?
I do not want Saudi Arabia to meddle in India and I do not want Israel to. It is as simple as that. And here are a few examples that I had written about in an earlier piece:
• Soon after the Mumbai attacks, six members of a group called Zaka (acronym for Zihuy Korbanot Ason - Disaster Victim Identification) arrived in the city to collect and arrange the body parts and blood of Jews so that they could be returned to family members and were afforded a dignified burial according to Jewish law. The police investigations were not completed.
• More recently, Israeli national Nurit Toker was booked by the Mumbai police under the Arms Act for carrying two live cartridges in her backpack while travelling from Mumbai to Kathmandu. In her petition she mentioned that she had completed her compulsory three-year training in the Israeli army and these were her personal ammunition, compatible with the M-16 assault rifle acquired during her military training. She had not carried the rifle, though. Sec. 3 clearly states “there is no requirement of use or intention to use the arm or ammunition” to pursue the case. Yet, the Israel Consulate intervened to say that the accused had accidentally left bullets in her bag.
• In 2006, Noa Haviv had cleared customs at Mumbai airport as well as the security agencies of Israeli airline El Al at Tel Aviv and arrived with 16 bullets and a magazine in her check-in baggage. The Israeli consul general had stated then: “We have every reason to believe that it was an innocent mistake. She had borrowed this suitcase from her brother, who is a licensed weapons holder. She was not aware of the bullets inside when she packed her bags.” Amazingly, only the airline filed a case and not the Airports Authority of India or the security agencies of the government.
In a country that arrests whole families on mere “tip offs”, this leniency is alarming. Worse, all 171 passengers on the El Al flight had walked out of the green channel and cleared customs in 15 minutes. Why this express service? Even Indians returning from a holiday take longer. The customs official at the time had said, “…this was a flight coming from Israel, where security measures are stringent.”
So is Sri Lanka's. And America's. Is that why a certain David Headley could visit India at his time and convenience? Think about it.
Image: Magen David synagogue in Mumbai