There is now an ominous pattern in terrorist attacks on civilian targets. For one, the number of fidayeen attackers seems to have come down to the very minimum, according to reports. Then there are brief diversionary tactics, although not invariably, and a duration of panic and confusion. That is all the headstart the attackers need. Because often, the security looks unprepared. There are then some deaths and injuries before the assailants are defeated. The Raghunath temple has been targeted for a second time this year. After the attack on it on March 30, security had been tightened around the temple complex. Yet it was possible for the attackers to create complete panic close to Residency Road — at one end of which lives the chief minister — with grenades and gunshots in the Hari Nagar market area, and on Shaheedi Chowk opposite the Congress headquarters, while entering the Raghunath temple and the Rupewallah temple close by. It is not as if Jammu and Kashmir has been lacking in bloodshed recently that the security system should be taken by surprise. Military and paramilitary personnel together with a Congress leader and civilians have been killed in a total of five attacks in different parts of the state in November alone. As for temples, even if the earlier attack on the Raghunath temple itself and that in Gandhinagar on the Akshardham complex in September were to be forgotten, there were explosions in front of the Sai Baba temple in Hyderabad as recently as November 21. No doubt it is impossible to police every imaginable target with equal and unflagging vigilance. But it is possible, surely, to streamline and coordinate intelligence after so many hard lessons, so that the security net is tightened in the right places at the right times.
Particular reasons for particular attacks do not help. It hardly matters whether the second attack on the Raghunath temple was encouraged by the soft line taken towards militants by the new state government. This reason must necessarily be different from the one that was cited for the earlier attack on the same temple — and neither can be the same as the explanation given for the Akshardham incident. Glibness with reasons gives the impression of unconcerned political sparring, while militancy, in different uniforms, continues to wreak terror in different parts of the country. Terrorism will have to be fought with patience and determination, and this larger battle will take time. Meanwhile, precise and timely intelligence for the security personnel who are risking their lives is the best immediate defence.