they cannot rest on their laurels, despite declarations by the media that the back of the IM has been broken. A quick scan of the situation on the ground gives rise to misgivings, such as: one, the IM is capable of mutating, as we have seen in the past. Two, several IM leaders are still in hiding, either within the country or abroad, from where they are capable of guiding destructive operations.
Among them are heavyweights like Riyas Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Amir Reza Khan and Abdul Subhan Qureshi, besides shadowy figures like Dr Shahnawaz, Bada Sajid, Mirza Shadab Beig, Masood Sheikh, Raheel Sheikh, etc. Three, new recruits, well-educated and technologically capable, seem to be joining the IM. Look at the two youngsters arrested along with Waqas. Both are studying for engineering degrees in reputed institutes.
Four, reports indicate that at least two LeT cadres, who infiltrated into India to be suicide bombers, have been intercepted in UP, presumably as the result of the revelations of Monu and Waqas. There may be more. Five, very recently, the leftwing extremist groups have once again demonstrated their capability to hit security forces. Six, it’s general election time, and security norms are usually lax during these times because of candidates’ compulsion to reach out to people whose votes they need.
The last of the reasons merits very close attention by the powers that be. In South Asia, we have a sad history of assassinations during elections. When one looks back, memories of three young, dynamic political leaders come flooding in. One harrowing assassination that we in India are unable to forget is that of Rajiv Gandhi, who was seeking re-election after a term out of power when he became the victim of an LTTE human bomb at an election rally in Sriperumbudur. Gamini Dissanayake, who was just 52 and was campaigning to be president of Sri Lanka, was killed by the LTTE in 1994 while addressing a public meeting in Thotalanga.
In December 2007, Benazir Bhutto, hoping to make a comeback in Pakistan, succumbed to an assassin’s attack at a political rally in Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi, which was meant to mark the beginning of her campaign. The significant fact to note is that all the three were out of power when they were killed. There seems to be an inherent problem in providing requisite security to opposition candidates in the South Asian context.
I am not suggesting that this is intentional, but there is a mind-set amongst security and intelligence professionals, which refuses to accept that the threat level to an opposition leader could be higher than that of the incumbent prime minister or president. The dominant view, based on traditional wisdom, in the security and intelligence community is that there is an in-built threat which any person who holds a constitutional post faces and, therefore, the levels of protection to such leaders need to be higher than those for anyone else.
We cannot, however, afford to lose any one of our leaders, whether from the ruling party …continued »