Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

At last, a real case against SIMI. Now, don’t defend it reflexively

SIMI final
The Indian Express
Posted online: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 2318 hrs

The arrest of 10 activists of SIMI in connection with the Ahmedabad blasts is impressive and, in a way, startling: the dishearteningly dilatory approach of previous, similar investigations has caused our expectations from our investigative agencies to be at an all-time low. Perhaps the initial response from Lalu Prasad Yadav, in which he wondered aloud about the quality of the case, can be understood in this light; if not, it is a depressing reflection on the level of politicisation of our internal security. There can, and should, certainly be disagreement -- expressed through politics -- of the best way to tackle terrorism; but head-in-the-sand irrationality is not a viable option.

The best cure for both the generally felt dissatisfaction with the overall results of past investigations and for the unhelpful political polarisation of the debate would be for the case that has been made against these activists to be subject to, and to hold up under, stringent judicial scrutiny. From what we know of it, it appears that the quality of this case is substantively different from those that have gone before: for one, it is not overly dependent on individual confessions. Both the courts and civil society have understandably shown themselves uncomfortable with such dependence in the past. Claims and counter-claims should be weighed in a public tribunal, justice should be seen to be done; only then will those who doubt start to recover a modicum of confidence in the information-gathering skills of security agencies, and only then perhaps will those who attempt to play political games with the issue, on all sides of the issue, find their positions unsustainable.

In the end, that is what could be the best possible consequence. These columns have consistently pointed out that reflexive defence of SIMI overlooks the very real threat that the organisation, and the radicalisation it represents, poses to liberal secularism. Our columnist on Saturday demonstrated that warning signs have been in evidence for decades, and that we, including those of us who claim to speak for Muslim communities across the country, have unconscionably ignored them. That pattern of thinking must not be allowed to continue.

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