It so happens that my article in Pragati is around 200 words shorter than it should have been, because it was supposed to be one of a set of 2, and had a reduced word limit than the normal Pragati article. Neither Nitin nor I are very strict about word counts while editing. If an article is well-written, we don’t care if it goes a couple of hundred words over. But while writing I am very very conscious about word limits. I set a target, constantly check my pace, and almost always ensure that I make the limit. When it became clear that Karthik’s article was not going to arrive, I was thinking of revising my article a bit, but then I had to rush to the hospital. So if I had given myself another 200 words, I would have been able to cover some of points I am covering now.
Let’s review the model of law enforcement that I have built up in the article. We have politicians in government, we have bureaucrats and policemen, and we have citizens. All of them are supposed to be comrades in arms in the fight against terrorism, but all of them have their own interests. Politicians want to get reelected, and make money. Civil servants and policemen want to advance their own careers, and make money. Citizens want to stay safe.
Now some of you may object to this model and say that while modeling the politicians’ interests, we should also factor in the possibility that some politicians, especially the Hindutva-supporting ones, are genuinely concerned about the national interest and wish to rid India of the scourge of terrorism. On hearing this, my first response will be to laugh uncontrollably for five minutes. Once I recover, I am going to point out that if Narendra Modi were really interested in fighting terrorism rather than just using the fight against terror as an electoral platform, he would not have continued to defend Vanzara after it was revealed that he lied about Sohrabuddin being a terrorist. Modi’s behaviour is consistent with my view of his being interested in votes and is not consistent with your claim that he cares about the national interest and wants to rid India of terrorism.
I want to point out here that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, interested in votes or interested in furthering your own career. It is the citizens’ responsibility to ensure that their votes go only to those who actually fight terrorism, not to those who make a show of fighting terrorism. The way to ensure that is to insist that they obtain convictions, not just shoot people they claim are terrorists. There is a credible argument being made that Vanzara killed Sohrabuddin because he was paid to do so by Rajasthani marble traders who were getting extortion calls from Sohrabuddin. If true, then shouldn’t citizens who are concerned about fighting terrorism be even more worried? How would you like it if your country is fighting a war and half your soldiers are mercenaries on their own private expeditions?
Sorry to be fixated on Gujarat and the Sohrabuddin incident. I am doing so because Gujarat is the best administered state in the country. If this is the state of affairs in Gujarat, what are the chances that things will be any better in Andhra Pradesh, where the chief minister does not care two hoots about the lives of any of his citizens?
Now, let’s return to the model that I have built up. I have not clarified the nature of “terrorism” in that model. The threat from terrorism that we are facing right now is different from the ones we faced earlier – it is a low intensity threat. We have seemingly random attacks against “soft” civilian targets. Leaving aside rare exceptions like the parliament attack, those in power do not perceive a threat to their own lives or a threat to the Indian state that will unseat them (let’s not get into whether there is such a threat – the important thing is that they do not perceive such a threat.) If they did, then the fight would become personal – as happened in Punjab. So, my model will apply only up to a particular point. I agree that if the menace escalates beyond that point, a different set of measures will be needed. But it is just as critical to distinguish between situations where a law enforcement approach is needed and where a war-like approach is required. A prolonged war does bad things to an army’s morale and effectiveness.
15 thoughts on “The Model of Law Enforcement”
In the Modi argument above, you make the classic mistake of using binary arguments – this or that, anti-terrorism or votes . Of course, you could now hide behind the priority defence “yes, he may be also interested in fighting terrorism but his main aim is to get votes”. BUt that will be weak. Pus, I do not think that the Sohrabuddin incident says anything about priorities anyway. You do what you can to fight it, and justify and rationalise incidents like these as collateral damage. I am not saying if that is right or wrong – just that the argument you think is conclusive is anything but that and your ridicule would probably be misdirected.
“In the Modi argument above, you make the classic mistake of using binary arguments – this or that, anti-terrorism or votes . Of course, you could now hide behind the priority defence yes, he may be also interested in fighting terrorism but his main aim is to get votes. BUt that will be weak.”
Huh? Did you actually read the post or did you have a drunk secretary summarize it for you in a powerpoint? I was talking of *aligning* fighting terrorism with seeking votes – where have I made the binary argument?
Also my definition of “collateral damage” is when you try to kill a terrorist and end up killing an innocent man in the process. In this case, Vanzara wasn’t even trying. Where does “collateral damage” come in?
I agree with the first part of the post (reg. Vanjara and Modi). However I have my doubts reg. the second part, while I do agree that our law and order is in a severe need of overhaul, it has to be a long term project, meanwhile we must treat issue of Islamic terrorism of immediate concern, which is why it is very important that we must have
2. Jack Bauer
PS. One minor nitpick you claim that “Citizens want to stay safe.”, thing is we don’t have citizen, we have interest groups, and what is even more interesting (to me at least), any philosophy based upon self interest will ensure the status quo in India.
Ok I am sorry, couldn’t resist from taking pot shots at aym grandism, I am ashamed of myself ð
” Once I recover, I am going to point out that if Narendra Modi were really interested in fighting terrorism rather than just using the fight against terror as an electoral platform, he would not have continued to defend Vanzara after it was revealed that he lied about Sohrabuddin being a terrorist. Modis behaviour is consistent with my view of his being interested in votes and is not consistent with your claim that he cares about the national interest and wants to rid India of terrorism.”
Your own words, no drunk secretaries or powerpoints. But nevermind, there is suitable space there for you to claim that I should have inferred ‘alignment’ there.
As for collateral damage, what I meant was missteps of any kind. I’s not me trying to pass Sohrabuddin as collateral damage, but had I been in power, I probably would have. As long as the missteps do not become systematized and widespread, there is a good chance that even someone in power who truly wants to combat terrorism will justify a politically expedient view of the Vanzara case to himself as collateral damage.
Look, in the first place, there is no need to read between the lines to “infer” alignment. You could simply have read this sentence from the original post:
“I want to point out here that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, interested in votes or interested in furthering your own career. It is the citizens responsibility to ensure that their votes go only to those who actually fight terrorism, not to those who make a show of fighting terrorism.”
There is no need to imply that I am “hiding behind” the “priority defence” when I am tackling the issue head on.
“Is not me trying to pass Sohrabuddin as collateral damage, but had I been in power, I probably would have”
Why would you have? If you were really interested in fighting terrorism, you would not have. You would have admitted a misstep, investigated it, and ensured that it would not happen again. In any case, Modi did not even give as much quarter as you are doing. He continued to insist that Sohrabuddin was a terrorist who deserved to die. This is much more consistent with the claim that he was interested in votes, not in fighting terrorism.
I did not bother about that sentence of yours because it only says that there is nothing wrong with being concerned about votes, and then shifts the onus of locating the true terrorism fighters among those who make a show of fighting terrorism on the voter. That is more to do with the fact that the politician has the right to make a show of fighting terrorism (rather than actually fighting it), and less to do with admitting multitudes. My point in calling your argument binary was to say there are multitudes between politicians who cynically exploit people’s fear of terrorists for their votes and the ideal ones who would admit a misstep, get it investigated and ensured that it did not happen again. The ideal leader would do all this while risking a slaughtering by the media, in the legislative assembly, and giving his opponents another plan to hit him with when he finally makes his pitch for national leadership.
You think that the Sohrabbudin incident makes Modi fall firmly in the cynical exploitation of people’s fear category, so much so that you would have to ridicule anyone who even asserted otherwise. I am saying that he is less, much lesser-than-ideal, and that he has politically expedient reasons for continuing to defend Vanzara, but that in no way conclusively makes him fall into that category. It just makes him fall into one of the multitudes in between – a person who is far from being an ideal terrorism fighter, but who is much truer to the anti-terrorism agenda than, say, Shivraj Patil.
But wait a minute…
First, you accuse me of treating Fighting terrorism and winning votes as a binary variables, when I have done no such thing.
Then, assuming that the above accusation is true, you launch into a long and tedious explanation of why the two are not binary variables. But there is no need for that. I accept that they are not. I have never denied otherwise. What I am claiming is that actual fighting of terrorism will happen only to the extent that such fighting will fetch Modi his votes. Your previous comment reinforces my point. It does not contradict it. Comparing him with Shivraj Patil is neither here nor there. Patil happens to be utterly incompetent. He also happens to be utterly unconcerned about votes, because he is dependent on Madam for his votes.
Regarding the Vanjara case – is it even true that terrorism laws necessarily abet exoneration from fake encounter charges? One can very well have terrorism laws that merely relax the protocol for investigation – like POTA’s provisions to keep suspects in interrogative custody for so many days. Are you claiming that clamor for such provisions will compete with convictions for electorate attention?
In other words, it is perfectly possible for terrorism laws to be consistent with a policy of necessitating convincing convictions.
And sorry, but self-interest on the part of citizens won’t operate until terror attacks claim at least a reasonable fraction of the toll that accidents take.
Also, regarding :
accuse me of treating Fighting terrorism and winning votes as a binary variables, when I have done no such thing.
What else is this :
I am going to point out that if Narendra Modi were really interested in fighting terrorism rather than just using the fight against terror as an electoral platform, he would not have continued to defend Vanzara after it was revealed that he lied about Sohrabuddin being a terrorist.
And all this is not even considering the possibility that Modi might think of this statement as a white lie to prevent Congress from coming to power – which according to Modi’s view could be much worse for the fight against terrorism than pulling the wool over people’s eyes on the Vanjara episode.
Of course I am not saying that this is necessarily the case, but underlining the pervasive and unusual binariness of your present argument.
If you are saying that Ravi is being unfair to Modi, let him be. He has a thing for Modi, Advani et al. Presumably it is his way of speaking truth to us Hindutva Fascists.
>>[Modi] a person who is far from being an ideal terrorism fighter, but who is much truer to the anti-terrorism agenda than, say, Shivraj Patil.
How so?? When given chance to fight terrorism in own state Gujarat, i.e. when carnage happened in 2002, what Modi did? nothing. This man talks big talk and you are fooled, you think that means terrorism-fight.
Gaurav : Having a thing for Modi and Advani are very much understandable, even for a smart guy like Ravikiran. Advani makes too many over the top comments like “Babri Masjid demolition was the saddest day of my life”, “[Nandigram was] the most shocking …” etc. And because Gujarat riots were a more large-scale-phenomenon than other riots genuinely active in media memory, the media wrote whatever they want, pinning all their rhetoric on the one single person called Modi. Modi didn’t deny anything – after all who would squander a landslide-opportunity that the post-riot-polarization offered? And the general Hindutva writers were dumbfounded – the moderates kept quiet, the extremes resorted to ineffective recriminations invoking 1984 etc. So how would most people not have something against Modi?
But what I don’t understand is the conclusion he makes regarding terror laws from his opinion about Modi. As I remarked on the first comment on this thread. That Ravikiran wrote this, both in the pragati article and here, is difficult for me to digest.
FiTW, of course Advani has said some pretty ridiculous things, and I am no fan of his and his frequent dandwat before secular liberal establishment. But I don’t think Ravi mocks him for this, if he wanted he could have found enough material with the present government which is a veritable cornucopia of ridiculousness, including our Super PM and Super FM.
He mocks Advani (and the opposition) so that he doesn’t have to face perverseness and grotesqueness of cult of secularism. In this Advani has a useful role of Emmanuel Goldstein.
A Discourse on GUJCOC
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