One country that has known terrorist violence for decades is India. One country that constantly fails to do anything about preventing the next terrorist violence is also India. Something is grievously wrong about how we react after a terrorist attack that is directly linked to how well we are prepared to prevent the next one. On Saturday evening, this apathy was once again made evident by the two explosions that rocked Hyderabad claiming over 40 lives and injuring scores of others. The names of the usual suspects — Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami — were trotted out and Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy is sure that the perpetrators were foreigners. Investigations will, hopefully, prove the veracity of that belief one day. But apart from swiftly laying the blame on some dangerous corner of a foreign field and doling out compensation, what else have the men whose job it is to provide Indians safety from terrorist attacks done? Very, very little.
If the investigations of the May 18 bomb blast at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the security measures taken following that tragedy are anything to go by, the investigations that will follow the Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat attacks will also dissipate into thin air. One sincerely hopes not though. There are two parts to every post-terrorist attack policy. One, all efforts should be made to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice. Mr Reddy may have already thrown up his hands when he stated that there is little Andhra Pradesh authorities can do when the enemy lies ‘outside the country’. But before we all start getting fatalistic, it would be wise to fix the disconnect between Central intelligence and state investigative agencies. The Mecca Masjid blast investigation, for instance, turned into a who-gets-there-first affair rather than a joint exercise to get to the bottom of the truth.
The second, and more fundamental, part of a post-terrorist policy, is to ensure that the stable door is closed at least after the last horse has bolted. In other words, ensure security arrangements that go beyond a state of ‘red alert’ for a few days, and proactively refrain from sliding back to a chalta hai mode as if nothing untoward ever happened. If lives are valued in this country, appropriate measures must be taken. Just saying that the killers of innocent citizens are ‘cowards’ does nothing to make us be or even feel more safe.