India has always denied ISIS functioning in the country, although several Indians joined the ‘freedom struggle’ of the world’s biggest terrorist organisation in the Middle-east. India is fortunate not to face any direct attack from the outfit so far. Bangladesh too has denied ISIS hand in the recent Gulshan bakery incident even after ISIS claim and circulation of pictures of all the attackers with grinning faces holding weapons. The country has preferred them to consider ‘home grown militants’ with the excuse that all of them are young and bright boys from effluent Bangladeshi families. Even Pakistan does not want to associate it with the name of ISIS as it attracts global attention and scepticism about the country. The trend is to deny presence of terrorists with a foreign ideology.
In India, the authorities are divided on political lines about admitting existence of Islamic terrorism. ‘Secular’ groups prefer to say ‘terrorism is terrorism, it has no caste-creed’, a line of late adopted by even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known as a RSS hardliner, although his party loves to use the term ‘Islamic terrorism’. This tendency of denying presence of intrusion of terrorist elements in the society is seen every time there are such reports. It may be a tactic of the authorities not to let the public panic or an attempt to hide its failure to control such elements.
A recent report of infiltration of five alleged radicals, one of them English speaking, from Bangladesh into Garo Hills has caused a lot of concern. While Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma admitted sounding of a high alert in the state – although he did not specifically endorsed infiltration report – the security forces stopped short of admitting any such incident. Everyone hopes the report would be a rumour! But in case it is not, the forces have a lot to do. It is believed that the nation’s forces are competent to tackle such elements, as shown by busting of several such modules including in Assam. The region and the country have, for a long time, not seen major terrorist attacks. But this is not the time for complacency. It’s important for the forces to do their job rather than trying to save their skin.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 9, 2016)