India is under attack. To think otherwise and look away would be to be in denial. If there is any irony here, it is this: despite being hit by terrorism much before the world woke up to its horror — and before the West woke up to the pointlessness of conducting a theological debate about how to define ‘terrorism’ — our response to such assaults has invariably been ludicrously shy and episodic. Security precautions are proposed after every attack, but they are seldom implemented. It’s time this fatalistic attitude is done away with. As we were reminded after Friday’s and Saturday’s attacks, terrorism has a chillingly vast menu of ‘soft targets’ — from markets, hospitals, and water and food supplies, to chemical plants and high-rise buildings — to choose from. The nation can choose to buckle and cower. And then, it may choose to take the enemy head-on.
There are major flaws in the working of the intelligence agencies and it’s time we acknowledged that fact. Authorities are more keen to start a blame game — central agencies claiming that they had ‘passed on inputs’ to the state level agencies — than to work out workable solutions. No wonder that even the recommendations of crucial security documents like the Kargil Review Committee Report — suggesting the creation of a nodal anti-terrorism agency — continue to gather dust on South Block shelves. It is high time a centralised federal agency was established to tackle terror by pooling intelligence inputs at different levels that could be acted upon in the shortest possible time. Eyes and ears must be dedicated to searching and destroying the menace, rather than waiting for a cataclysm and then acting pell-mell against it. This is crucial for integrating the human and technical resources at the disposal of different agencies. While this is no magic bullet, it would still prompt the government to adapt newer tactics for carrying out law enforcement and surveillance.
A grateful public would — and should — gladly tolerate the inconvenience this would entail. Frankly, it is the only insurance policy we have. But instead of entering a pointless debate about whether India is a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ State, it’s necessary that a single-window agency deals with terroristic acts of war against the nation. Bangalore and Ahmedabad can’t be simply brushed under the carpet. A single agency must take responsibility for the nation.