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Comfortably numb

Terror has been normalised in our minds and lives. It’s another of the things that can happen when we go out into the streets now, a bit like road accidents, writes Samrat.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2010 23:58 IST

I realised one thing after the Pune bomb blast: that terrorism has failed in India.

When it started, terrorism was spectacular. It worked, because it actually achieved what it aims to do, which is to terrify. Now for most people it’s little more than a bother.

How did the Pune blast affect my life? Well, I had a party to go to that night, and couldn’t, because I am a journalist and this event meant I had extra work to do. The party itself was by all accounts a success. Of course I felt bad that innocents had died, and relieved no one I knew had been in the area, but I was not terrified or devastated. If the blast had been in Delhi, would people here still have partied that night? Well, if it was far enough away, probably yes.

That’s because terror has been normalised in our minds and lives. It’s another of the things that can happen when we go out into the streets now, a bit like road accidents. It holds no terror. Of course, the media go on and on about it like it’s still a huge deal. But do readers and viewers really care anymore? I doubt it. No one can stop living because of random bomb blasts, so why waste time worrying?

The people who benefit most from the attacks, of course, are the Hindu and Muslim loonies. The jihadi terrorism we’re seeing now in India, and have seen since 1993, is mainly on account of three events: the Babri Masjid demolition, the Bombay riots, and the Gujarat riots. Those events gave rise to anger and insecurity among Muslims, which the terrorist recruiters and their Pakistani handlers have used to their advantage and continue to do so. L.K. Advani, Bal Thackeray and Narendra Modi have therefore contributed indirectly to the growth of terrorism in India. The Hindu extremists, in turn, benefit from the terrorist attacks. It gives them a chance to raise their bogey of evil Muslims out to destroy India.

However, on the whole, it hasn’t worked to political advantage for the right-wingers on both sides. Karnataka and Gujarat are the only two noticeable success stories for the BJP. But in those too, factors other than religion and security contributed to the victories. In Karnataka, it was caste and internal differences in the Congress, and the loss of credibility due to repeated flip-flops in the JD(S). In Gujarat, it was Modi’s good governance, and internal differences in the Congress.

So in the end terrorism is insignificant. It has no real political or economic impact of any kind. It’s just a number of senseless murders, and the terrorists are merely murderers of innocents. That’s all.