Monday, December 24, 2001

A lot was made of the Indian security agencies inability to forestall the attack on Parliament, despite warnings of such attacks from various sources.
Two days ago, a man smuggled explosives hidden in his shoes into an American Airlines flight and almost blew it up. In fact, American security agencies had warned airlines that shoes could be used by terrorists to smuggle explosives on board.
So, how did this huge security lapse occur? And, especially, in country which is still reeling from the worst terrorist attack in history?
The problem with security warnings is we usually only hear of the ones that come true, and then we blame a security lapse. I am sure that in situations like the present, law enforcement agencies around the world must be receiving and processing many threats. Sifting the credible from the cranks is not always an easy job. We have been hearing constantly since September 11, that more major terrorist strikes are imminent, that terrorists may use dirty bombs, biowarfare weapons may be unleashed. But, thankfully, none of that has materialised.
If we start believing every threat to be credible and true, how will we ever get on with our lives. The first fallout of such a situation will predictably be civil rights and free movement.
Are we ready to live with that?
Besides, no matter what precaution we take, history proves that if a terrorist is willing to put his life on the line, there is little anybody can do to stop him from committing his heinous acts.
I am not saying that we should stop protecting our institutions, leaders and people. All I am saying is that we should not use terrorism as an excuse to subvert freedom, victimse sections of the population and subjugate civil rights. Because none of these will ever contain the canker.

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