The arrest of alleged ‘Hindu militants’ could well be the first step to restoring faith in the law, something that has taken a beating after the lack of accountability after each terror attack. It will also reassure people that despite the long delays in the investigation process, the law enforcement agencies are no longer cavalier in dealing with terrorism. We have been beset by two major problems when it comes to cracking cases associated with terrorism. One is that of the tensions between the Centre and states.
The other is the quibbling among political parties. This has led to political parties losing sight of the fact that a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist and matters of faith and ideology are secondary. The BJP, which should conduct itself in the manner appropriate of a responsible Opposition, does little credit to itself by raising objections to the use of the term ‘Hindu terrorists’. This is simply positing the polar opposite of the knee-jerk objection to the use of ‘Muslim terrorists’. Such nomenclature is of no relevance and the only object of all political parties should be that the law follows its course and those who target civilians be brought to book.
The Malegaon arrests, however, show that the stereotypes about terrorism may no longer be watertight. It is not confined to a particular community, area or religion and may have taken on a ‘simple’ tit-for-tat-for-tit quality. This means that combating it becomes all the more difficult. But the good news seems to be that the investigating agencies, in this case the Maharashtra Police, are not letting up for a moment. This will send out a signal to terrorists that, however long it may take, the law will catch up with them. For such investigations to be more effective and quick, we need to rely much more on human intelligence. This is not a prescription for neighbours to tell on each other but for much greater checks and information on any suspicious activity. While we may not agree totally with the tactics adopted by the US post- 9/11, there is something to be said for greater vigilance and filtering of information. This probably explains why the US has not had any terror incident since that fateful day.