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23rd August '2013
Terrorism, a big business!

There is no justification for any terrorist acts from whatever quarter these emanate regardless of the so called higher and sublime motives attributed for undertaking these. The most deplorable is the “State Terrorism” as the “State” is expected to stop the terrorist acts and not to indulge in this itself. The ghastly and bloody Gool massacre in Ramban, the Kishtwar upheaval including the killings prompted by VDCs of a particular community armed by the state and many fake encounters is just a tip of the iceberg of the state sponsored/instigated violence in Kashmir in recent years. No doubt there have been many terrorist acts from various outfits claiming to be fighting for ultimate freedom which usually happens in all such movements due to some rogue elements joining these for vested interests but the terrorist acts committed by state agencies under the garb of counterinsurgency have exceeded all limits. In fact, counterinsurgency has become a big business not only in Kashmir and North East but in entire India.

In regard to the acts of terrorism committed by the governments of some countries themselves in other countries, there are innumerable instances but these have mostly happened in times of war. When two countries are at war, then the governments of these countries authorise sabotage and other terrorist acts as part of their war effort. Normally, in peace time the state governments do not indulge in acts of sabotage or terrorism. However, in the case of India and Pakistan, the mutual mistrust has put these two countries in a state of perpetual war by proxy. They deliberately indulge in acts of terrorism in each other’s territory. While as Pakistanis feel that they have to keep India on the boil as stable India is a threat to their existence, the Indians want unstable Pakistan engaged in internal strife to give them relief on their western front. A stable, settled and strong Pakistan can pose a serious threat to them in Kashmir. Interestingly, the Inter-Services Intelligence sends operatives to this side paying them heavily to indulge in acts of sabotage. Sometimes, the Research and Analysis Wing catches hold of these operatives and returns them to cause similar damage in that country by doubling or trebling the price! There is big unaccountable money involved in these operations from both the sides. One never knows how much has really been spent and how much has been pocketed?

The worst form of “State Terrorism” is the one which a State conducts against its own citizens. Even the most advanced and developed countries have been alleged to be resorting to state terrorism against their own citizens. Some of the former agents of the Central Intelligence Agency have exposed many instances where the state has been using its own citizens to test biological and psychological weapons without their knowledge. There are numerous instances of state terrorism in Burma, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia and many other countries in the region. In the case of our sub-continent, the two neighbours perennially in a situation of conflict inflict state terrorism on their own citizens. Violence from both the state and non-state actors is taken quite normal and usual in Pakistan. In fact, there is hardly any day when one does not hear about a violent incident in some part of that country. Be it a drone strike or a suicide bombing or targeted killing.

In India the State Terrorism is extensively prevalent in Kashmir, North East and some of the Naxalite infested states. Some of these areas including Jammu & Kashmir have draconian legislations such as AFSPA, Disturbed Areas Act and Public Safety Act in force which give total immunity to the perpetrators of the terrorist acts from the state side. With Security Forces having absolute freedom to commit all sorts of extra-constitutional acts without any fear of accountability or prosecution, these areas have virtually turned into occupied territories. This totalitarian power with total lack of accountability has made the state actors convert their actions into profitable business deals and a channel to earn promotions. Fake encounters have quite often been indulged into to claim some sort of trophies. The living examples of these fake encounters are the ones in Pathribal, Machail, and Ganderbal. Some of these cases are stuck in both the civil and military courts for prosecution because of the immunity provided to perpetrators under AFSPA.

The worst form of terrorist business deals was starkly evident during the early days of the turmoil of nineties. On one hand some people patronised militants and used their services to settle scores with others and sometimes blackmailed people to get monetary and other benefits. While on the other hand the security forces started the cordon and search operations to catch suspected militants with the help of gypsy borne informers almost as a daily routine. Hundreds of youth were picked up on mere suspicion. Immediately after a cordon and search operation involving picking up of youth at random, a lot of middlemen would get into action. They would contact the parents or guardians of the youth and offer to get them freed for a price which would range from few thousand rupees to sometimes to couple of lakhs or so depending upon the status of the family. It was the most lucrative business for the security forces personnel and it is alleged that there was also a price in the Ministry of Home Affairs for getting a posting in Kashmir! Apart from this, the entire business of security during the counter-insurgency operations would cost millions and the expenditure was debited to the head, “Security Related Expenditure” also known as “SRE”. All types of expenditures were debited to this head. Sometimes the cost of stay and entertainment of the Home Ministry officials and their families would be debited to “SRE”. The repairs, renovation and furnishing of VIP residences were also debited to this “popular” head of expenditure, “SRE”!

The only way to end this big business of terrorism is to restore peace. On one hand the leaders of the popular movement have to realise that violence will lead nowhere. On the other hand the State can lessen violent acts by revoking all draconian legislations, and introducing accountability for all state forces, Police, Paramilitary and Army. However, these beneficiaries of conflict will never allow return of normal peaceful conditions because of their lucrative vested interests. The vicious circle can only be broken by an honest, just and a strong ruler who values basic human rights above every thing else. There is an extreme scarcity of such rulers in the entire sub-continent and most of the politicians use these extra-constitutional means to further their own interests. We may have to live with the big business of terrorism for quite some time unless there is some unforeseen but welcome divine intervention!

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