Chennai, Nov. 8: Former Punjab police chief K.P.S. Gill today differed with Union minister of state for home I.D. Swami on India’s aligning with the US in the “war against terrorism”.
Inaugurating a two-day national seminar on “Responding to Terrorism: Dilemmas of Democratic and Developing Societies”, Swami said though India believed in “ahimsa paramo dharma”, times were such that “we had to join this war (by the US) against terrorism to prevent a greater calamity”.
But Gill resented India’s propensity to piggyback on the US.
Going over a range of events since the September 11 strikes on the US, the attack on Parliament, the explosions in Bali in which 200 people died and the Moscow theatre siege that led to the deaths of over 100 hostages, Swami said India has opted not to be neutral “in this fight against terror”.
The seminar was organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, New Delhi, Satyamurti Centre for Democratic Studies, Chennai, and the Madras Management Association.
Addressing a gathering of academics and former bureaucrats, Swami defended the A.B. Vajpayee government joining the terror fight.
India has opted “not to be non-aligned in this fight against terrorists —traitors to their own faith. We have opted to cooperate with America to endure freedom and to ensure that terrorism never succeeds again,” the minister said.
The US has worldwide support for its terror war, Swami added, giving details of how terrorists are “flush with drug money”.
The “dirty money” being washed through the financial system is anywhere between $500 billion to $1.5 trillion every year, equivalent to five per cent of the gross world product.
Warning against terrorists creating an “economic pandemonium”, Swami said never before had an act of terrorism sent the world economy into a spin, as after September 11.
The estimated total losses in two weeks after the attacks last year was $2.03 billion, including the 116,000 job cuts announced in the airline industry alone, Swami said.
The Union minister, who later called on Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, added that civil liberty was the “first casualty of terrorism and war”.
American society, for whom “security profiling” has been anathema, has now realised that civil liberties do not require “letting people with knives and box cutters board jet planes”, said Swami.
However, going over his experience of fighting terrorism in Punjab, Gill said it is not prudent for India to entirely throw its lot with the US in the backdrop of the “al Qaida variety of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism”.
Ultimately, “each community has to encounter it themselves and India has to fight it on its own, not keep leaning on the US all the time”, Gill said.
Describing Kashmir as a “test case”, he said if India could manage to keep the Valley free from fundamentalist terrorism, “we will be doing a great service to the international community”.
In the recent elections, the people of Jammu and Kashmir went through a learning process and realised how much terrorism had damaged their state. Despite the enormous costs — in terms of money and manpower — involved, India is capable of keeping Kashmir free from terrorism, added Gill.
“The only country that can commit its troops on the ground massively and keep them in a sustained way to defeat terrorism in Kashmir is India,” Gill said. “By this, we are doing the world’s job.”
In a state that has been a victim of terror for so long, Gill felt a thin line divided human rights concerns and curtailment of civil liberties. “Where do you draw the line and the answer was given in Punjab in the 1980s,” he argued.
The Barnala government had set up a committee that released almost all the jailed terrorists in Punjab, he said, adding that the decision only led to the continuance of terrorism for 10 years.
Should Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s government in Jammu and Kashmir do the same now, his experiment would only lead to continuance of terrorism for another 20 years, warned Gill.