Comparisons are odious and perhaps more so when it comes to issues of terror. But I beg your indulgence while I point out the stark contrast in approach to terror attacks in the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies.
The United States suffered a stunning blow in the 9/11 attacks. No one, but no one, expected anything of this magnitude ever. Clearly this set the benchmark for all terrorists around the world.
And it was the arch-conspiracy theorist George W Bush who was at the helm when the planes came crashing into the twin towers.
But, in the aftermath, politicians across America rose as one in condemning and standing behind the government and investigative agencies as they began the painful task of unravelling the plot.
Even though Bush was a favoured punching bag for his opponents, in that hour of grief, no one pointed fingers, no one apportioned blame and no one jumped to early and baseless conclusions.
Contrast that with the Mumbai 26/11 attacks. A visit to the city during the siege by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi led to a political slugfest.
While the commandos and fearless policemen were doing their best in a very trying situation, the state government was pilloried, the Centre was bashed, each political party attacked the other, some spoke of the government not having the gumption to bring the neighbouring country from where the terrorists came, to its knees. Oh, it was really ugly.
And in the end, we are still no closer to actually nailing the masterminds of that crime while, Osama bin Laden, the brains behind 9/11, is sleeping with the fishes.
The Bodh Gaya incident is the latest in a long line of terror attacks in which our politicians have sought to queer the pitch by making irresponsible statements which can only hamper the investigative agencies. I notice that no sooner did the blasts take place in one of the holiest of Buddhist shrines, than our politicians were all over the media accusing each other of complicity, negligence and incompetence.
One rent-a-quote politician even went to the extent of actually connecting the issue of a temple in Ayodhya to the attacks in Bodh Gaya.
At this rate, I reckon we don’t need the investigative agencies at all. Our politicians seem to be able to divine the cause and effect and perpetrators of terror crimes without so much as a smidgeon of forensic evidence.
In the Boston marathon bombings, the American political class stayed firmly out of the picture as the investigators went on to study the evidence and nail the culprits.
The sort of politicisation of terror that we see here is such an insult to those who die or are injured in these horrific attacks. It diminishes the heroism of those who try and save lives at great danger to themselves.
It undermines the efforts of the investigative and security agencies. Honestly, to see these brazen attempts to cash in on human misery for the sake of cheap popularity is enough to turn my stomach.
I wonder why it never strikes our politicians to do their bit to help by pushing to give the security and investigative agencies the manpower they require, the resources to widen their database on terrorists and to improve state-level policing.
Instead, every time anyone tries to conduct an honest investigation, jurisdictional issues are raised, the states cry foul that their autonomy is being encroached on and all attempts at having a rational debate in Parliament are invariably derailed on some footling excuse or the other.
Let us face it. Terror is not going to go away however much our political parties use the issue to malign each other.
In fact, terrorists, observing the sort of self-serving behaviour of our politicians, will probably rejoice that no serious attempt will be made to strengthen the systems which will make their nefarious designs that much more difficult to execute.
Oddly enough, each political party accuses the other of politicising terror while proceeding to do exactly the same thing itself.
We have seen how party high commands come down sharply on those who step out of line. Why then, I wonder, doesn’t the top leadership of parties tell their flock to keep quiet and let professionals do their jobs?
Holding bandhs, disrupting Parliament, shouting each other down on television channels, raising doubts about the patriotism of individuals, these are just some of the tools in the anti-terror strategy of our political class.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the leadership of political parties should take disciplinary action against those of their people who are quick to shoot their mouths off in public before all the facts are known. Dashing to the scene of the mayhem for photo-ops, in the process destroying valuable evidence, is another unnerving habit with our politicos.
By all means, try and offer succour to the victims, but please don’t enlighten us with your half-baked allegations and infuriate us with your opportunistic attempts to gain political mileage on the backs of broken lives.