As India began its new year fighting terrorists holed up at the Pathankot Air Force Base, readers were grim as well as angry about the security lapse and concerned about its effect on the recent momentum in the India-Pakistan peace talks.
Among comments and updates saluting personnel who put their lives at stake, there were many questioning the gaps that may have allowed a security breach at an establishment as critical as an air force base, especially when intelligence inputs had already hinted at the possibility of such an attack.
“Shame Shame Shame. This is the security of air force base,” wrote Rajan Luthra on indianexpress.com under the story Live updates on Pathankot attack.
Another reader BharatK wrote, “Army must improve their intelligence network. Top rungs of armed forces should be held accountable for any lapse.” Many readers shared similar opinions on the incident.
Criticism was also reserved for the home ministry announcement on Saturday that all terrorists involved were neutralised, even as two terrorists remained inside the base and continued their attack on Sunday. “And they naively declared that the area has been fully sanitized. What to believe now?” wrote a reader.
On Sunday afternoon union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi clarified that since “last night firing stopped, therefore we were not sure if all terrorists (were) killed or not.”
Readers also expressed their dissatisfaction with PM Modi, especially in light of his recent surprise visit to Pakistan, for not maintaining enough pressure on the neighbour to curb such militancy. “BJP’s Modi, when in opposition, very brave. But, once in government, loses his voice,” wrote Sanjeev Singal.
Thankfully, where there is anger, there are always some voices of hope.
Some readers pointed out that there can be no benefit from politicisation of the attack. “Peace is the only way forward and Indian or Pak governments should not be targeted for such attacks,” wrote Rajan Luthra.
“Hope rulers would pursue the right path of peace and talks in the interests of all. Jaihind,” wrote another commenter named ‘Citizen’.
Unfortunately, a majority of discussions on the attack were also Islamophobic in nature. Many readers were quick to blame Muslims and referred to Islam as a violent religion. This debate, everyone knows, is not new to the realm of terrorist attacks.
Interestingly, some Islamophobic arguments were quickly shut down by witty ones.
For example, when an angry Manish demanded that “any Indian who wants to contribute to the war against terrorism in India” should stop buying products manufactured in an Islamic country and stop doing business with these, pat came the reply from Aditya – “Lets stop buying petroleum then and let’s see how your life goes.”
As one carefully reads through people’s opinions, one thing is clear – they are becoming restless for answers and actions and that for them there’s no space for diplomacy.