We should take tips from Israel
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We should take tips from Israel

We should ostracise terrorists and their kin from our communities and treat them as outcastes ? be they Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs, writes Khushwant Singh.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 00:40 IST

The bomb blasts in Malegaon (Maharashtra) took a heavy toll of innocent lives, and shook me to the core. Who were these sons of Satan who carried out this diabolical operation? Why did they target a mosque and an adjoining graveyard on the Friday afternoon of Shabe-e-barat, a holy day for the Muslims? My immediate reaction was that it must be some fanatical Hindu group taking revenge for some imaginary grievance, or to teach our Muslim brethren that they were in India on sufferance.

But things are not as simple; it could well be Muslim fanatics who don’t care if they kill their own-brothers-in-faith to destabilise a state which they abominate as infidels. As usual, our intelligence agencies and the police were caught napping. They seem always wise after the event.

We have much to learn from the experience of other states which have been victims of terrorism. Five years ago the US was rudely woken up from its slumber when suicide bombers crashed into New York’s sky-scrapers and attacked the Pentagon in Washington leaving 3,000 people dead.

Its security forces got into action, combed the country for suspects, got some who owned up. Inevitably a few innocent men were also arrested and later let off with apologies. The act has not been repeated.

On a smaller scale the same kind of thing was repeated in London. Terrorist plans to place explosives on trans-Atlantic flights were frustrated. Undoubtedly brown-coloured British citizens were looked upon with suspicion and visitors were put through humiliating searches at airports but a sense of security has now been re-established.

The prime target of Muslim terrorist organisations has been and continues to be, Israel. Whatever one’s opinions on Zionism, one cannot but admire how the Israelis have dealt with those who persecuted the Jews and try to demolish their state.

We could learn a few things from them. Many years ago, Israeli agents laid hands on Eichman who had sent thousands of Jews to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. He was living incognito in Argentina. The Argentine authorities were oblivious when they flew him to Israel to stand trial on charges of mass murder of Jews. It was an open trial covered by the world media (including our own Dom Moraes). He was allowed lawyers to defend him. He was shouting “Hail Hitler” as the death trap was sprung.

During the Munich Olympics a gang of Arab terrorists (including a woman) killed the entire Israeli squad. With little help from other countries Israeli agents tracked down the killers and in turns shot them dead. Later when an Israeli plane was hijacked and force-landed in an Arab-friendly country, Israelis overpowered the hijacker and their supporters and brought the plane with all its passengers back to safety.

Compare their feat to our own performance in Kandhar where we made a bad bargain, freeing terrorists in exchange for our plane and passengers. More recently, when two soldiers were kidnapped by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli planes bombed Hezbollah head-quarters, forced its leader Hassan Nasrallah to go underground and killed hundreds of his followers. Nevertheless, Hezbollah claimed to have won and Nasrallah became a hero of the Muslim world. Pathetic!

What we have to do is clear: turn our intelligence agencies into better shape so that they can warn the police of targets likely of terrorism. We should ostracise terrorists and their kin from our communities and treat them as outcastes — be they Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. When we catch them, we should try them by military courts. If found guilty, shoot them.

Patriotic songsters

In my younger days I had joined choruses singing the three national anthems known to me: Vande Mataram, Jana Gana Mana and Sarey Jahan Se Achha. Although I did not know the meaning of either Vande mataram or Jana Gana Mana, I liked the tune of Bankim Babu’s ode to the Mother Goddess more than Guru Dev Tagore’s composition in honour of King George V, which became our National Anthem. Iqbal’s Qaumi Tarana which I understood and later translated into English went into misuse because he became the chief expounder of the two-nation theory which led to the break-up of the country. In none of three was I more bothered about my religious identity. So what is this song and dance about Vande Mataram? Sing it if you want to; don’t sing it if your voice is besura. Nobody has any right to force you. Only those bankrupt of ideas make it into a national issue. I wish the likes of L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj were lined up and ordered to sing Vande Mataram. I am sure you will never want to hear it again. Also, have yourself invited to a luncheon meeting of the Rotarians. They religiously sing Jana Gana Mana. One experience will be enough to put you off Rotarians as well as reduce your patriotic fervour.

Parliamentary language

Santa had a fight with Banta over some trivial matter. Santa, being stronger, thrashed Banta. Banta started abusing him. Santa got wild and said, “You can do anything but I warn you, don’t use Parliamentary language.”

(Courtesy: RS Mathur, Delhi)

Pills for health

The doctor repeated his instructions: “The yellow pills are for your stomach, the red ones are for your swollen liver, and the white ones are for your heart. Have you got that straight?”

“It’s all clear to me. I only hope the pills understand where they are supposed to go.”

(Courtesy: Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)

First Published: Sep 30, 2006 00:40 IST