Posted by: Manjeet Krpalani on May 14, 2008
Seven explosions, six locations, 80 dead, at least 150 injured in terrorist attacks in Jaipur yesterdy. All for what? The people who died weren’t high profile, weren’t Western tourists, weren’t any of India’s pampered cricketers. They were ordinary folk going to the temple on a sacred Tuesday evening after work.
No purpose was served by the bombings, except perhaps to remind the world that the terrorist machine is intact, active and in good working condition. They’ve chosen a soft target like Jaipur city, with its emerging back office workforce, and not New Delhi or Bombay, which are always on high alert. Jaipur is also the capital of the opposition, Hindu-hardline Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state of Rajasthan, so the political impact of this is likely to be limited. Sonia Gandhi did not rush to the site of the blast to commiserate; instead, her own security was beefed up, post-blast.
Counter terrorism sources in India say its the same old, same old thing. It’s a volley fired in an old war. Terrorist organizations need regular demonstrations of capacity. For them, violence is an end in itself. The groups are also surely getting support from the Pakistani military - but mostly because the military wants to discredit the fledgling, struggling civilian government in Islamabad. They say the old infiltration by militants into Kashmir has begun again - just as Kashmir is readying for state elections in June. Jaipur, they say, is just the beginning. Expect more blasts across India.
How to defeat this cycle of violence? Not by calling out the army, but by strengthening the state police force. Increase its capacity, develop the intelligence function to a fine art. A successful example is at hand: the police in Andhra Pradesh. That southern state rasied the Greyhounds, an elite commando force, to deal with its internal Naxalite problem. And it fortified its police stations, and trained every policeman in counter-insurgency skills. Naxalism has been driven out of the state to a large extent - and it’s being kept out.
It’s hard work, but necessary. Ordinary people, and India’s growth story, need protection.