What distinguishes Wednesday’s terror attack from the one in Gurdaspur is that this time some brave villagers, at a great risk to their lives, managed to overpower one of the terrorists. That is some achievement though India has lost two BSF men. There is uncertainty about the age of the captured terrorist. If he turns out to be a juvenile, the law could prove inadequate and he might escape jail and capital punishment. Just because he has confessed to being from Pakistan may not be enough to pin down the Pakistani establishment for the attack. Sections of the media are quick to point fingers towards the hostile neighbor, but the world at large looks for more credible evidence of the Pakistan government’s involvement. The latter may well dub him a “non-state actor” just as it did in the case of Ajmal Kasab.
The Army played an important role in Wednesday’s anti-terror operation with the use of helicopters and para-commandos. In Gurdaspur the Punjab Police chose to go it alone and that took 12 hours to neutralize the terrorists. Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister has promised to strengthen the police stations in the border areas. This is welcome as terrorists seem to have shifted their area of operation from Kashmir to the Jammu-Gurdaspur region. The Udhampur incident shows the advantage of having village defense committees. Civilian help is crucial in tackling terrorism.
In his statement in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday Home Minister Rajnath Singh did not make the mistake of alluding to Pakistan’s role in the attack without first having proof in hand as he had done in the case of the Dinanagar incident. Another positive is the Modi government has resisted pressure from hawkish elements and stuck to the NSA-level talks, expected on August 23-24. The dialogue with Pakistan must continue as any contrary move would mean playing into the hands of those who use terror to abort peace efforts. The Congress has accused Modi of being soft on terror. Omar Abdullah too has played terror politics. This is not the right time for political one-upmanship and point-scoring.