In the last fortnight, 4,909 people wrote in to the Citizens Against Terror public forum jointly initiated by
, inviting constructive suggestions from India’s people on ways to secure the homeland; and 1,62,459 pledges were taken to cooperate in helping authorities fight terror.
Very quickly, the responses began to form two natural clusters: Long-term and immediate solutions.
The very first suggestion printed by HT in its first Citizens Against Terror page was to involve the coastal communities on our two vast seaboards in actively watching for and reporting any suspicious activity or person. A week ago, the national fishermen’s association volunteered to do just that to the government.
This outpouring of feeling and ideas is unprecedented in our print history.
But 26/11 was unprecedented in the history of contemporary global terrorism.
The responses, as readers would have observed, came in from every religious and regional identity: Parsi, Buddhist, Jain, Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu; north, south, east, west and the states in the Indian heartland.
HT’s Bhopal office called about dispatching letters from readers who did not use e-mail. Armymen, policemen, security officers, housewives, students, corporate professionals, priests, teachers, doctors, economists, engineers, moviemen — the bandwidth was astounding and deeply moving.
Many readers expressed their thanks “for a democratic forum” in which to express themselves. Several Muslim readers seemed to empty the depths of their hearts and speak up in public for the first time, of their fears and sense of alienation from the mainstream, while others bravely wrote that many needed to introspect and integrate.
Equally, there were many anguished letters from Hindus wanting justice and fairplay for non-Hindu fellow citizens as the deepest defence against terror.
Indians spoke as one and that is the conviction they want government to take forward at all levels. HT-CNN-IBN’s panel of experts — Kiran Bedi, IPS, Maj.Gen. (Retired) Afsir Karim and Dr Amitabh Mattoo, expert on political strategy — evaluated readers’ responses and shortlisted 10 actionable suggestions as a Citizens’ Charter for government to consider.
HT-CNN-IBN presents this charter to the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the morning of December 26, the month after the Mumbai massacre.
Watch CNN-IBN between 8 pm and 9 pm today for a live televised report and discussion.