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Black Friday remains with us


Abhinav Kumar

Abhinav Kumar is an IPS officer working in Uttarakhand


....at present we have a very circumspect attitude to the root causes of terror. We know that the bulk of participants in terrorist incidents receive support from across the border; we have to adopt more robust policies. Cross-border pursuits, destruction of militant training facilities by covert means and assassinations of key figures in the terrorist hierarchy are all measures adopted by other states in protecting what they perceive to be their right to security. The war against terror is a war. It must be now acknowledged as such.

Posted online: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST



The mediocre standards of plot, script and logic that characterise mainstream Bollywood cinema are sufficient to mark Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap as a remarkable piece of work. As a look into the banality of evil that marks most terrorist outrages in our country, the sheer ordinariness of the perpetrators of these horrific acts of violence is perhaps their most disturbing feature. As a cultural comment on the recurring crisis of our times, Black Friday squarely captures the terrorist challenge and the state response for what they are: a dance of death between the sure-footed, fanatical and focused terrorist on the one hand and an ill-equipped, ill-trained, blundering, bureaucratic police structure, on the other. The price of this ill-matched tango will always be paid as it was in Hyderabad last Saturday by ordinary citizens. The tally this time: 44 dead, dozens injured.

It is no surprise then that India is the second worst sufferer of terrorist atrocities in the world in the past three years - after Iraq, that is. This in itself should be a reminder that for all our chest-thumping about 9 per cent growth, when it comes to terrorism and the inability to prevent such atrocities, we share space with some of the most dysfunctional and damaged societies in the world. This distinction by itself should ordinarily suffice to make the task of modernising our police forces one of the top public policy priorities in our country. Yet, if you look at the order of legislative business, our elected representatives clearly think otherwise.

The absence of police reforms and police modernisation from the top of the policy agenda is a disgraceful abdication of public responsibility and one wonders how many Mumbais and Malegaons and Hyderabads must a nation endure before it devotes its collective energies to forging a credible response to this challenge to the very idea of India. Or do our leaders seriously believe that just as in the field of education, health, and drinking water, the people of India will simply adapt themselves to the reality of the state being unable to provide them with a modicum of security? Leave India to God, the father of the nation told the British as he contemplated the looming horrors of Partition. Leave Indians to God, seems to be the motto of the Indian state in the 21st century.

As an officer with some recent experience in the field, the answers to the question of terrorism do not lie in the realm of rocket science. They are simple and straightforward but the peculiar structure of our decision-making apparatus ensures that even the most obvious responses remain hostage to archaic procedures and vested interests. For example, we need a well-coordinated response to the pan-Indian nature of terrorist strikes but we cannot do that because the Police is a state subject and therefore the Centre cannot mandate what needs to be done. So how many Hyderabads do we need before we will bring the Police to the Concurrent List of the Constitution so that the Centre can lead a well-thought- out response.


With regard to the resource crunch in the police, the government in its infinite wisdom has maintained that police is a non-plan subject and therefore, other than for disbursing salaries and allowances it will automatically be accorded low priority for resource allocation. As far as both the quantity and quality of manpower is concerned our police setup is woefully lacking on both counts. The state of our thanas, our courts, our jails and forensic facilities are known to everybody who is either a part or a hapless consumer of the criminal justice system. And yet resource allocations for what are crucial and irreplaceable domains of state action remain niggardly and piece-meal. In the dynamics of India's political economy, it is far better to spend thousands of crores building roads, schools and hospitals that will exist at least on paper and in the process enrich at least those who have processed the paperwork. The last time I checked the annual outlay for police modernisation of the Government of India was about Rs 1000 crores, and that by a conservative estimate was the economic cost of the Mumbai train blasts of 2006. The question therefore is not whether we can afford to modernise our police forces but whether can we afford not to modernise them.

Last but not least at present we have a very circumspect attitude to the root causes of terror. We know that the bulk of participants in terrorist incidents receive support from across the border; we have to adopt more robust policies. Cross-border pursuits, destruction of militant training facilities by covert means and assassinations of key figures in the terrorist hierarchy are all measures adopted by other states in protecting what they perceive to be their right to security. The war against terror is a war. It must be now acknowledged as such.


Abhinav Kumar is an IPS officer working in Uttarakhand



http://www.indianex press.com/ story/213169. html

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