Six years ago, when you were reading the September 11, 2001, edition of your newspaper, all of us, India included, inhabited a world that was mostly in denial about the menace of globalised terrorism. Terrorist attacks with their accompanying death tolls and subsequent chaos were what happened in the world’s designated trouble spots like West Asia and Kashmir. In other words, terrorism happened in ‘far-off places’ involving ‘other people’ unfortunate to be caught in asymmetrical, ideological battles. By the time you were holding the next day’s paper, the pre-9/11 state of blissful ignorance had vanished. True, countries like India have been facing the bane of terrorism much before al-Qaeda wreaked physical and psychological havoc in mainland America. But with the crumbling of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, all of us realised that we were indeed living in the ‘far-off’ danger zones.
The United States may have been a novice in terms of experiencing ideological acts of terror, but it did realise that providing maximum security to the nation and its people had to be done on a war footing. There have been terrorist attacks all over India since the December 13, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament — if one is to take a relative starting point close to 9/11. Unfortunately, there are still too many chinks in our armour, as subsequent blasts — whether in Mumbai or in Hyderabad — amply remind us. Surely, our security clergy can’t be in denial about threats of terror.
Then, the shortcomings lie elsewhere. Experts have commented in this newspaper over the last few days about the lack of coordination between various security and intelligence organisations in this country. Terrorists thrive on the lack of communication and coordination between security organisations in different states and in different countries. And it is here that India, despite its long exposure to terrorism, seems to blunder.
Global terror is essentially globalised terror, where ideological dots are joined as effortlessly as operational ones. Even to think that one is safe simply by staying ‘indoors’ stopped being an option six years ago. It’s time that India, like the vigilant world it’s part of, puts its security machinery on a round-the-clock duty. It won’t be cheap. But it will still be way cheaper than our lives.