When terror came to the Househttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/when-terror-came-to-the-house-2001-parliament-attack-5490888/

When terror came to the House

December 13 is a day to pay homage to those who were martyred, and to remind ourselves of the need for a united resolve against a common enemy.

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We cannot allow the perpetration of terror to go unchecked. (Illustration by CR Sasikumar)

As we mark the supreme sacrifice by our security personnel and others in the diabolical attack on this day 17 years ago on the Indian Parliament, the temple of our vibrant democracy and the symbol of people’s aspirations, we not only have to strengthen our resolve to make every inch of our motherland a safer place, we also need to step up our diplomatic efforts to combat the ever-growing global menace of terrorism. We have to build stronger coalitions against this scourge that is afflicting humanity.

No words of commendation or praise are enough to describe the valiant manner in which our security personnel laid down their lives to protect the lives of parliamentarians and the institution of Parliament. Only 18 days ago, we paid tribute to the 166 people who were martyred in the Mumbai terror attack. These are deep scars on our collective consciousness.

While India has been battling cross-border terrorism for the past several years now, the all-pervasive phenomenon of terror has, in recent years, affected many other countries in different parts of the world. Back in 1996, India brought before the United Nations a proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). Unfortunately, it remains a draft even today.

It will be truly sad if semantics were to stand in the way of the UN taking a clear-cut decision on moving forward firmly on this convention. All the countries should reflect on the current security situation and the needless violence that is impeding progress. They should explore concrete collaborative action to counter terrorism effectively.

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Under no circumstances can terrorism in any form be justified. A terrorist is a terrorist and there cannot be any talk of good and bad terrorism. As stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “Humanist forces in the world will have to put pressure so that it is decided in black and white what is terrorism.” I do hope that the CCIT is ratified soon.

Both the strike on Parliament and the Mumbai attack have outraged the collective psyche of Indians. They have strengthened our resolve to combat all divisive, disruptive and destructive forces. Undoubtedly, the Mumbai police and the NIA did a commendable job in unravelling the sinister plot hatched across the border. The public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam’s astute legal acumen and convincing argumentation with irrefutable evidence led to the execution of one of the main perpetrators. However, the web of terror is getting more vicious. This edifice must be dismantled. The masterminds behind this sordid episode, who are still at large, need to be brought to book.

We cannot allow the perpetration of terror to go unchecked. The world needs to wake up to this unpleasant reality and find an effective antidote, quickly and collaboratively. On the domestic side, we need to strengthen our security apparatus on all fronts, including maritime and coastal security.

The world cannot be held hostage by a handful of people with scant regard for human lives and human rights. It is ironic that — especially in the Indian context — certain people are championing the cause of terrorists under the guise of human rights.

We must stand united as a nation and, every country as a part of the global community has to stand up, speak up and, if necessary, step up in this battle. We are confronting a common enemy. Only a coordinated strategy will work against such a foe.

We in India need to further strengthen our resolve to tackle forces that encourage terror both within the country and outside, particularly from across the border. There is also a need to condemn the attempts by groups abroad and within the country that fuel these nefarious tendencies. It is unfortunate that attempts are being made to give a religious colour to acts of terror. No religion approves of inhuman terrorist acts. Violence and extreme actions of killing people or attacking property cannot be justified. Misguided, ill-informed perspectives, as well as blind adherence to an anti-human worldview, need to be countered through dialogue and persuasion, as well as through a deterrent, judicious use of force.

Eternal vigilance is indispensable in today’s world. We cannot afford to be complacent. As India is poised to become the world’s third-largest economy and is seriously addressing numerous challenges, we cannot afford to dissipate our energy and resources on issues that don’t contribute to our development goals.

India and most countries in South Asia have some sections of their population living in poverty. Illiteracy, gender discrimination and disease continue to be areas of concern. Our collective focus should be on improving the quality of life of our people and any act that distracts us and any force that wreaks havoc and leaves an unending trail of death and human suffering or any country that aids, abets and funds terror activities must be firmly dealt with. Development and destruction can hardly co-exist. Peace and progress go together. We need to continuously build the defences of peace and defeat the countervailing, counterproductive forces of violence and terror.

Finally, a word about our security forces. On this day, 17 years ago, six security personnel lost their lives. There have been many terrorist acts which have taken, and continue to take, a heavy toll. Our brave soldiers guarding our frontiers in the most difficult terrains and circumstances, our policemen guarding our lives and property and our paramilitary personnel bravely combating aggressors, terrorists, extremists and anti-social elements all deserve praise. Their selfless devotion to duty and unflinching commitment to our country’s security and our people’s safety inspires all of us. We should not underestimate their stellar role in creating the right backdrop for our development story.

On this solemn occasion of paying homage to these bravehearts, let us remind ourselves of the task ahead. Let us, with clear-headed and firm-footed determination, move forward on our chosen path of inclusive growth and development by combating negative forces like terrorism along the way. We have to relentlessly pursue our cherished goals for the people’s welfare and a harmonious world.