Tale of 20 terrorists in Pakistan
by Himanshu Jain on 10 Dec 2008 4 Comments

India has in great sincerity presented a list of 20 terrorists to Pakistan, and made it a top priority to secure their custody. When Mr. L.K. Advani was the Union Home Minister, he had the list drawn up. But he had an instrument called POTA and fast track courts to try such prisoners.

Today, the Centre has neither the instrument to deal with these 20 dreaded terrorists hiding in Pakistan, nor the will to try and convict them.

The UPA is proud of its ‘secular’ credentials, and in India secularism means that if a terrorist is a Muslim, he has to be handled with restraint so as to not hurt the sentiments of the minority community. Given such a complex paradigm and the lack of effective instruments to fight terror, how can India win this war against terror?

The true picture of how India deals with terrorism and terrorists worries me:-

# 13 December 2001 - Parliament of India attacked  

# 12 October 2002 - Indonesian island of Bali attacked, killing 202 (164 foreign nationals) and injuring 209

# 9 November 2008 - Imam Samudra, Amrozi Nurhasyim and Mukhlas Ghufron executed by firing squad

# In India, Mohammed Afzal Guru convicted by the Supreme Court of India still not hanged 

# Abu Salem - accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997. Handed over to India in November 2007; yet to be convicted

# Iqbal Sheikh Kaskar - brother of Dawood Ibrahim, deported to India on 20 February 2003, granted bail in one case under MCOCA by Mumbai High Court, pertaining to charges of land grabbing against him

# Iqbal Sheikh Kaskar and Abu Salem wish to fight elections and have filed applications in courts several times for this purpose

# Sanjay Dutt - out on bail after being convicted for serious offences like the possession of an AK-47 procured from people involved in the Mumbai blasts; now a TV expert on 26/11 Mumbai attack 

These few cases establish that we really do not convict very high-risk prisoners and allow them to languish in jails. It is a common knowledge that these criminals hold durbars inside the jails, recruit new gangsters in these prisons, and run all kind of operations from prison through the use of cellular phones. They bribe the jail staff and get all kinds of amenities for themselves.

Lately, Abu Salem used to watch the Big Boss serial in jail. It is not unlikely that these criminals returned to India just to take charge of their gangs on account of the considerate treatment they receive in jails here, with a guarantee of freedom after a few years.

Thus, even if the UPA government asks for 20 terrorists, and Pakistan for some reason obliges, what will India do with them? In the current scenario, each deported terrorist will be a great episode for our news channels. Bollywood producers will make at least 50 films on them. Ram Gopal Verma has already visited the Taj. The print media will make separate Page 3-like pages for them. Our famous criminal lawyers and jail staff will buy some more villas and private jets. Other than this, I do not see any reform or increase of national security in case these 20 terrorist are sent to India.

For the 20 terrorists, India would be great opportunity. They can look forward to making new recruits, new business ventures, and possibly a stint in Parliament, possibly even the cabinet. They can start dreaming of a respectable life and a more prosperous future. For young boys of small towns like Azamgarh, employment opportunities coupled with the call of Islamic duty, the lure of Mumbai may become irresistible.

Above all, another class will thrive. Saviours in legal robes will replenish their coffers, and the Human Rights Franchisees will espouse their cause with gusto. Enterprising film-makers will make documentaries on persecution in the Indian system which forces men to become terrorists. Some political parties will try to see these 20 terrorists re-employed as MPs.

Next time Sanjay Dutt goes to Arthur Road Jail (if ever), he can meet these ‘stars’ to discuss authentic plots for his future potboilers. Not only would it relieve the boredom inside jail, it would prove a valuable investment in his soaring Bollywood career.

If New Delhi is serious about tackling terror and really wants these 20 men in jail, and intends to prosecute them seriously, it will have to change the mindset of our jailors, our lawyers, and our politicians. Merely bringing the men to the jails and filing cases against them is not enough.

As of now, there is a general suspicion that the present government is using this list as a diversionary tactic to avoid or delay action on terrorism. The tragedy is that modern India has failed to make nationhood a top priority of the servants of the people. A customs official or a policeman can be compromised by money, a politician by power and a votebank, and a common man by his attitude of resignation and despair. Electronic media views everything in terms of TRPs.

We will all of us have to change, and change fast, so that criminals and enemies of the nation can be booked and brought to justice. We have to rise above our personal inadequacies and failings. Terrorists and terrorism are here to stay, and any one of us could fall prey to the bullet or the bomb at any moment. We need to put the nation first to fight this menace effectively.


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