Sri Lanka attacks: A message for India
The Sri Lanka bombings – one of the world’s deadliest acts of terrorism – highlight the growing terrorist threat to democratic, secular states.
Despite detailed Indian intelligence warnings, Sri Lanka failed to avert the bombings. However, Sri Lanka was quick to detain the bombers’ family members for questioning once the suicide killers were identified. By contrast, the Pulwama bomber’s family members remained free and also gave interviews rationalising the suicide attack.
The scale and intensity of the latest Sri Lankan attacks were unprecedented. The coordinated bombings, in less than 30 minutes, killed more people than the 2008 Mumbai terrorist siege, which lasted nearly four days. In terms of sophisticated methods and synchronised lethality, they were eerily similar to the 1993 serial bombings that targeted Mumbai. Jihadists have long used India as a laboratory .
The series of extraordinary steps Sri Lanka took after the bombings – blocking social media, imposing a daily dusk-to-dawn curfew, closing schools until April 29 and proclaiming an emergency law – may seem unthinkable in terrorism-scarred but rights-oriented India. But such measures were necessary to maintain control and to deter large-scale reprisal attacks against Muslims.
Ironically, in the days leading up to the Sri Lanka bombings, the 2008 Mumbai attacks were back in the news in India because BJP candidate Pragya Thakur’s controversial comment on Hemant Karkare, the police officer gunned down in that siege. The irony of ironies is that those 26/11 attacks received more Indian attention this month than on their 10th anniversary five months ago.
Far from heeding the 26/11 lessons – India doesn’t remember its martyrs. How many Indians know the name of Tukaram Omble, the “hero among heroes” of 26/11? An ex-army soldier, who became a police assistant sub-inspector, Omble – by ensuring terrorist Ajmal Kasab’s capture alive – provided the clinching evidence of Pakistan’s involvement in 26/11. Omble grabbed the barrel of Kasab’s AK-47 and took a volley of fired bullets, allowing others to seize Kasab.
All the 10 Pakistani terrorists involved in 26/11 wore red string wristbands for Hindus. But for Kasab’s capture (and confession) helping to indisputably establish Pakistan’s direct involvement, Pakistan’s wicked plan was to portray 26/11 as exemplifying the rise of Hindu terrorism by capitalising on the then Manmohan Singh government’s classification of the 2006-07 blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express as “Hindu terror”.
The Sri Lanka attacks hold major implications for Indian security, in part because the main group behind the bombings, the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), is an ideological offspring of the rapidly growing, Saudi-funded Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ). The TNTJ, wedded to fanatical Wahhabism. The NTJ has ties with ISI’s front organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which, through its Sri Lanka operations, has sought links with the TNTJ in India. It would be paradoxical if India, which tipped off Sri Lanka about the bombing plot, became a victim itself of Thowheed Jamat terror. (HT Media)