The liability of a civilized society

23 May 2010
Posted by Kiran

In early May, the Special Court in Mumbai convicted Ajmal Kasab for his role in the 26/11 attack on Mumbai and sentenced him to death.

Kasab is going to die, eventually. But before he is put to death, he will probably go through several appeals, mercy petitions, so on and so forth; he might actually die of old age before he is hanged! Take the case of another Pakistani terrorist on the Indian Death Row: Afzal Guru. Guru was supposed to be hanged in 2006, but still remains on death row. The government seems to be incapable of taking a decision one way or another!

When Kasab was sentenced, it was quickly proclaimed by many as a victory for the Indian judiciary. I was amazed at the number of people, including the media, who liked to believe that it meant closure for the numerous families who were directly affected by the horrible attack on Mumbai. However, I can't help but believe that this is just a shallow victory.

Kasab was undoubtedly the killer of numerous innocent people, but he was just a pawn. While there is no doubt in anybody's mind that he deserves to die, there also has to be a realization that while India has been able to bring this one man to justice the organization and the network of terrorists that backed him up that day still remain at large.

Whilst the real masterminds of this dastardly act remain comfortably ensconced in their hideouts, perhaps in Pakistan, the Indian exchequer has spent heavily to keep Kasab safe so that he could be tried and will continue to spend so that the sentence can eventually be carried out. Why do we have to care so much for a mass-murderer? The reason is simple: we are not terrorists like Kasab and his cronies. That is the liability we collectively carry for being a civilized society.

However, what is really worrying is not the civil attitude displayed by the Indian establishment but the complacency. It may be the Indian magnanimity to be civilized but it would be our idiocy to be complacent.

India seems to be powerless to bring all these criminals to justice. Reasons for that may be diplomatic but how long do all of us have to live under the constant threat of the next terror attack. It was in Mumbai on 26/11; will it be in our backyard next? While there has been continuing focus on Pakistan as a terror hub and pressure on Pakistan to "dismantle its terror network", what has India really done internally to ensure that we are able to preempt and prevent such an attack next time? Seemingly nothing!

26/11 was not the first terror attack that India has suffered. We have been dealing with repeated bombings of major cities, gun attacks and even hijackings. Each time there is meaningless loss of innocent lives. And each time India seems to have only one refrain — Pakistan and its terror networks. What surprises me is that each time, the Indian media goes along for the ride too.

Why haven't there been visible preventive actions to ensure that such terror attacks don't occur again? Why is it that the Indian media is more than happy to just accept the stories that the government organizations feed it with rather than conducting some genuine investigative journalism? Why is no one going after the people responsible for curbing such terrorist activities to enquire what actions have been taken to identify and fix the loop-holes that allowed these rats to enter India and to wreak such havoc.

26/11 uncovered numerous chinks in our armor: an ATS force that was ill-equipped to respond to an attack of such magnitude; the logistical problems involved in having our elite special forces rush to the location of such attacks to actively engage the attackers; the total failure of our intelligence network and the fact that our entire law enforcement seemed to have been caught unawares.

While a lot has been said in the media about Pakistan's involvement and the pressure that is being applied both by India and the US to ensure Pakistan cooperates in bringing the perpetrators to justice, nothing seems to have been done to follow up on these chinks in our armor to ensure that these loop-holes do not let another 26/11 happen. And therein lies our complacency.

I am afraid, that is where our next 26/11 will come from.

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