The serial blasts that took place in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on October 27, 2013 during BJP’s Hunkar rally was an event whose seriousness and implications have not been fully fathomed. In a setting consumed by ruthless electoral rivalries, the powers that be, have failed to assess the incident in its correct perspective and respond adequately. The event heralds a new genre of terrorist threat, where the objective was not so much to cause depredations as to prevent the people and the leaders from pursuing their lawful right of assembly and speech. The trend, if unchecked, could derail democratic process, undermine constitutional freedoms and seriously destabilise the country. If the terrorists even marginally improve upon their Patna performance, democracy in the country will get a body blow with no political party or political leader remaining safe enough to carry out their legitimate political activities.
Further, if the terrorists succeed in doing it to one – and their capacities are not degraded – they will do it to all; those in power becoming especially vulnerable. Long term implications would be still more dreadful and one would like to restrain oneself from alluding to them. This calls for a careful analysis of the event, re-assessing terrorist intentions and capabilities, evaluating efficacy of our response strategies and plugging the gaps in our level of security preparedness.
The first reality that the event brings forth is that the Indian Mujahideen (IM), though incubated by the Pakistan’s ISI and a satellite of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has amassed significant domestic content that we cannot wish away for political expediency. No responses can be strategised or meaningful policies executed by remaining in a denial mode. Since its inception in 2005, in last eight years, the IM has acquired menacing proportions both in its geographical spread and cadre strength. Its activities and existence of local cells have been reported from the states of Delhi, UP, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jhrakhand, Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh etc. Patna blasts when analysed along with the stunning disclosures made by Abdul Kareem Tunda, Riyaz Bhatkal and Abu Jundal, the indigenisation of Jihadi terror in India presents a disturbing spectre. If the menace continues to grow unabated at the pace of last eight years it may soon become unmanageable. The tendency of its getting intertwined with domestic politics will make things worse. Contrary to what their apologists would like us to believe, their Jihad does not spring due to the lack of economic or social upliftment but their plain and simple aim of degrading the Indian state and establishing Sharia rule. This aim mirrors that of global Jihadist groups like the Al Qaeda and LeT. It is true that their goal is neither achievable nor enjoys support of Indian Muslims, but that does not reduce their capacity to destabilise the country. Attack on the Patna rally is an early indication of that.