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.