Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hyderabad terrorist attack

Just as one political crisis abated, terrorists have struck through two bomb blasts in Hyderabad, killing 36 people. That 19 unexploded bombs were recovered across the city on that day suggests that the plan was for massacre on a much larger scale. The authorities have promptly blamed blamed outsiders, militants in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Media theorists have pointed to the connectivity of the city with the Saudi peninsula and elsewhere. Actually the situation is more complex. Official India is in denial over the fact that terrorism now has a domestic dimension and local roots. That is the reason the police has not gone very far in the case of the Mumbai train blasts or of the other terrorist strikes in the country, including a previous attack in Hyderabad.

On May 18, nine worshippers were killed in a blast at the city’s historic Mecca Masjid, four more were killed when police fired on protestors later. So Muslims are not immune from being targeted. In any case, any attack in a public place in a city with 30 per cent Muslims would have inevitably killed people of the Muslim community as well. The aim is not so much to create a communal divide, but nihilist desire to kill and maim, and of course, set back India’s efforts to modernize.

In keeping with terrorist tactics, the blasts have been timed with the festival season. August 26 was the best muhurat or auspicious day for marriages in this year. Some 30,000 marriages are to be celebrated on this day in the city alone. On Monday is Onam, Kerala’s main festival. Early next month we have a major festival of Janamasthami, marking the birth of north India’s popular god, Krishna. And then on we have Dashera, Diwali and so on.

Since the mid 1990s you can count scores of incidents that have been planned with a view of disrupting religious occasions and celebrations. The reasons for this are two-fold—as classic terrorism to deprive people of their sense of celebration and joy as well as to find more “soft “ targets of shoppers, revelers and celebrants.

I will put more posts on the subject, including one on the debate over the "dealing with the roots of terrorism" theory.

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