Jihadi terror came to Punjab last week after two decades of peace. But, we spent our time discussing whether Yakub Memon should hang or not. There was a long trial that found him guilty of conspiring with his brother Tiger Memon to kill more than 250 innocent people in Mumbai in March 1993. It was the courts that decided that for this he deserved the death sentence but in India’s politically correct public forums the debate turned him into a Muslim martyr in a Hindu land.
Is it the same sort of pernicious political correctness that prevented more attention being paid to the attack in Gurdaspur? I believe it is and there is a reason. The public square in our ancient land has long been occupied by Marxists, crypto-Marxists and birds of similar hue. Most political parties are dominated by Leftists. And, it has been observed that a peculiar connection has been established the world over between Leftists and jihadists. Can you remember the last time you heard a Leftist political leader (or journalist) condemn the horrible violence unleashed by Boko Haram or the heartrending video taped executions by the Islamic State (IS)? I cannot. But, let some political commentator stand up and try to say that the worldwide jihad is the biggest problem of our times and enraged Marxist voices rise up everywhere. A cabal of irate Leftists attacks this column weekly. I take their abuse as a huge compliment.
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Above the cacophony of condemnation provoked by the hanging of Yakub Memon last week only one voice could be heard trying urgently to draw attention to the attack in Gurdaspur. It was the voice of K P S Gill.
When the Home Minister declared even while the attack was still on that he saw the hand of Pakistan’s ISI Gill posted an article on his South Asia terrorism portal pointing out that we needed to start worrying more about IS than ISI. He said India was a special target for the international jihad that now operated as a ‘single complex’ because of India’s very nature. In his words, “And as far as India is concerned, there is an identity of purpose across the entire complex: this is a ‘region of disbelief’, a land where the kafir has escaped rightful Islamist domination, and a necessary theatre of ‘re-conquest’.”
In an excellent article in this newspaper he pointed out how unprepared our security forces continue to be to take on the jihadists. During the attack in Gurdaspur I was horrified to see how ill-equipped our policemen were in terms of weapons, equipment and clothing. They fought a brave fight and deserve full credit for this but the real heroes were the milkman who spotted those bombs on railway tracks and the bus driver who drove past the jihadi who tried to come on board. It is too horrible to think what may have been if these men had not reacted as they did.
The man who came out worst was India’s Home Minister. Like a garrulous, unthinking windbag he started blaming Pakistan for the attack in words we have heard before too many times. We see the hand of Pakistan, he declared, and we will give them a fitting reply. I have heard these words so many times that frankly it annoys me to hear them from a government that wears its nationalism on its sleeve. The Prime Minister needs to remember how many times he made scornful remarks about the manner in which the Sonia-Manmohan government dealt with jihadi terrorism. And, he needs to remember that the last BJP prime minister did not cover himself with glory when IC-814 was hijacked.
A S Dulat in his new book has minced no words in criticising the manner in which the hijacking was handled. Not only did the Indian government end up releasing some of the most evil men alive but it never even tried afterwards to eliminate them. Could it be because the Indian government does not have the ability to do what the American government did with Osama bin Laden? Do we have it now? And, while on the subject why did we allow men like Maulana Azhar Masood and Omar Sheikh to rot in our jails for more than five years? Why were they not tried and sentenced in special military courts? Will this happen in future?
If Yakub Memon had not spent 20 years in jail before he was finally hanged there would have been less sympathy for him. There is every indication that India will be targeted again by jihadis in the not too distant future and this time we need to ensure better preparation than we saw in the Dinanagar attack. Had our soldiers and policemen had better weapons, equipment and intelligence it would not have taken 12 hours to kill three men.