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Broken dreams litter terror trail

Terror strikes around the world, repeated train mishaps and Jayalalitha's attack on The Hindu aroused public ire.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2003 13:24 IST

(Nivedita Mishra)

If US-led war against terror was marked by armed attack on Iraq in 2003, the rest of the world felt the heat of Islamic terror machine. Israel had to face the brunt of Islamic terror when suicide bombers struck early in January 2003 killing 23 people in Tel Aviv.

Through the year, Israel was battling suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, the most recent being the Haifa restaurant attack that killed at least 19 people including three children. But it was twin attacks in September 2003 in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that saw hardliner Ariel Sharon calling for the elimination of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

As envisioned by the US, American and Western interests were clearly the targets of Islamic (read Al Qaeda) terror across the globe. The message being sent across was clear: whoever allied with America was a potential enemy. Naturally, US friendly Islamic nations too weren't spared. On May 12, 2003 suicide bombers struck in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia killing ten Americans and ten other Westerners. The terrorists again struck on the al-Muhaya housing enclave in Riyadh on November 8 killing 18 Muslims.

On November 15, 2003 the world was further shocked by twin suicide attacks that ripped apart two synagogues in Istanbul in Turkey, killing at least 18 and injuring more than 250.

India, though not entirely in the Al Qaeda's direct hit list, but suffering from insurgency in Kashmir had its brush with terror. In August this year, suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists struck in Mumbai setting off two bomb blasts, the first one near Gateway of India and minutes later, in Zaveri Bazaar, killing as many as 48 people and injuring 150 more. Targeting the Gujarati community primarily, it was supposed to avenge the establishment-fueled Gujarat riots that rocked the state in 2002.

Helplessness and despair gave way to anger as the world came to terms with the unfortunate but ugly face of modern-day terrorism.

Jayalalitha can't arrest The Hindu's march

(Shantanu Bhattacharji)

Democracy cannot thrive by destroying one of its basic pillars. The idea of parliamentary privilege, the bone of contention between The Hindu and the Tamil Nadu assembly does precisely that. The attack on The Hindu by the Tamil Nadu assembly is an occasion that justifies the fear that freedom of speech is under a shadow in Tamil Nadu. The charge that the attack was orchestrated by J. Jayalalithaa, is credible because she is known for her intolerance and vindictiveness.

The notion of parliamentary privilege, a direct import from the House of Commons in Britain, is something of an anomaly in the Indian political system. In India, it guarantees to legislatures and their members certain rights which are not available to the rest of the adult population. The invocation of parliamentary privilege can only stop the free flow of information.

In India, the danger to democracy comes not from royalty but from political leaders who assume regal status for themselves. Such leaders abuse democratic institutions and conventions to their own advantage. Jayalalithaa's use of parliamentary privilege is a supreme example of this kind of arbitrariness.

The Hindu Persecution

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 21:09 IST