Reckoning the Cost of Our Mistakes

We Indians are curious creatures. We continue to live in an ivory tower unfazed by the exigencies that life imposes on us and suddenly we are forced to descent from our high pedestal necessitated by an act whose christening is quicker than our impulse to any foreign element. The attack on Mumbai on 26 November was another incident which exposed the hollowness which is quintessential of the Indian security system. It is easy to squarely blame the Indian security force for their callousness but we have to partake some of the blame that is incessantly going around since that unfortunate event took place. For we furnished the conditions or at least part of it which provided the attackers with ample opportunities to carry out the deed.

We conveniently chose to over look the fact that like our borders, our coast line is pores. Stretched across the area of 6100 km excluding the area of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Island, this vast swathe of area is emerging as the new weakest chink in the Indian security forces armory. Inadequate security measures have made them vulnerable to attacks in posterity. The coastal navy is armed with antiquated weapons that have lived past their expiry dates. Compounded by the fact of grossly un manned human personal (All security forces are facing acute shortfall in manpower) is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

The harvest of terror reaps huge dividends when fortified by the lapses on the part of insiders living in the system. The reluctance of citizens to co operate in the measures aimed to improve the security of our living dens is a stark pointer to this fact. We prefer to done the hat of ignoramus and pretend to live in a land protected by the auspices of multitudes of gods that we worship day in and out. An attitude resembling that of US in pre Sept 11 days.

Viewed against the background of political manifestos which have craftily worded script pledging their allegiance to the tenet of anti terrorism, this oversight seems more pronounced. For here is the sample of the promises made by the political parties at the time of 2004 elections. Key planks included allocating money for modernization and maintaining a credible nuclear program. Some of the parties offered variations like establishing a security council and to enhance the capacities of external security agencies. An impressive resume of to-do list that failed to galvanize the security arrangements on ground. Majority of the exalted measures proposed in these manifestos took off ground but failed to reach the threshold required to create a material impact.

Since 2004, eleven major attacks have occurred in some of the most important cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. None of these illustrious endeavors have a direct bearing on the ground securities in the cities and villages of India. They at best proved to be bait which helps the political parties to regain some semblance of dignity which gets shredded in the rigmarole of elections.

So going through the motions of shock and disbelief is as fake as the plastic flowers sold in the gift shops across India. 26/11 as it is now phrased as was the primary derivative of the holes plaguing the system and by extension us. The lion shares of the blame lies at our doors.The symptoms of the malaise were discernible even to the blindest of the eyes. We chose to ignore them at our perils. And when these symptoms snowballed into an incurable chronic disease, we still indulged in the fantasy of ‘prevention better then cure.’

Geetu Batra

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