Terrorism is a hydra-headed monster that respects no borders. Its ever-changing nature keeps the intelligence and security establishment of every nation on their toes.
How affected is India, and is the Islamic State (IS) extending its tentacles into India? While there are indications that terror groups are focusing on India and that the IS threat is growing, New Delhi seems in no hurry to sound the alarm bells.
Speaking to a news channel, the minister of state for foreign affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Mohammed Gargash, said: “We need to tackle this [IS] threat and nobody is immune. If you think you are immune [and] you are going to be negligent, you are going to be hit. Everybody.... whether India or the UAE...” Terror cooperation between India and the UAE has increased. On Tuesday, a Delhi court remanded for 10 days three terror suspects, handed over by the UAE, for their alleged links with the IS.
According to the Global Terrorism Index 2015, India is the sixth-most affected nation in the world by terrorism. India has been on the list of the 10 worst-affected nations for the past 14 years. The NIA’s arrest of Abu Musab, along with a dozen other people, last month is disturbing proof that India cannot ignore the IS, not anymore.
Read these developments with a recent statement of President Pranab Mukherjee and there is a mismatch. Speaking in Jaipur, Mukherjee said, “Because we celebrate plurality, and allow space to develop and find out identity within that space…is the reason why global terror outfits have not been able to find traction in India.”
The President is right when he says that plurality is India’s strength. India’s plurality is commendable and its secular fabric has stood the test of time — both things to be proud about. It would, however, be tricky to assume that this would be a shield against terrorism. But today is there room for such plurality and development in India? That’s a question the government must ponder over.
Growing acts of intolerance and communal tension where particular communities are marginalised, do not “celebrate plurality, and allow space to develop and find out identity within that space”.
The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stress that innocent Muslims must not be harassed in the effort to check terrorism, should be seen in this light.
By increasing cooperation with other countries to fight terror, the government is taking the right steps. However, it can do a lot more to produce a conducive environment that checks people from turning to terror. Prevention, always, is better than cure.
(Views expressed are personal)