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DSA is as much yours, as it is ours! (June 2019)

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Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for winning the 2019 General Elections with a bigger margin than expected. The political importance of the elections is manifold but what is of greater interest is that the principal platform, and issue, on which it was fought, and won, is national security. This would make this, probably, the first Indian election to be contested and won on national security. A fact that deserves greater and more serious consideration by all. That national security resonates across the spectrum should not be lost, even if there is a regional bias in the end outcome.

National security is an easy tool with which to touch people in India, fiercely patriotic as they are. Any threat to the country is taken most seriously, especially when it connects to borders and the harm that emanates from across them. This is most apparent when it comes to terrorism and the many forms in which it operates across the country. The two most glaring examples occurred in the run up to the election, and during. How the people of India reacted to both instances, in widely differing ways, is an eye opener to the country’s sense of national security.

The first is, of course, the 14 February suicide car bomb attack on the CRPF bus in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The national outrage it caused aptly reflects the scale of the tragedy, enormous as it was. The fact that Pakistan based Jaishe- Mohammad terrorist group claimed the attack made the anger even more palpable. This was assuaged only by the launch of air strikes on JeM assets in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The national response to the announcement of air strikes was one of relief, pride, and teaching Pakistan a lesson. This is in contrast to what happened later.

At the end of April, Naxalites detonated an improvised explosive device in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, killing more than a dozen policemen. While this was as cold blooded a killing as in Pulwama, the fact that it did not involve a Pakistan based terror group, and it wasn’t in Kashmir, there was barely a murmured anger in the country. This despite the fact that Naxals cause as much terror amongst the people and security personnel as militants do in Kashmir, or the northeastern states, and in fact, influence a far greater land area of the country.

The lesson should be learned by the new government and its ministers who handle the important portfolios of Defence and Home. Both departments are equally responsible for maintenance of national security, one in terms of external threats and the other handling domestic groups. The vital fact to note is that both are as important as the other, and must be treated as such. The new government should, therefore, begin this tenure with a vision to tackle all forms of terror with an equal sense of importance, geographical location of source or threat being irrelevant. The country needs to get this menace sorted out properly to make it more secure, and prosperous for the future. Big ticket items are secondary to tackling terrorism, first and foremost.


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