Post Paris, when the Union Home Ministry said that an “IS-backed attack is possible in India” and went on to talk of the Islamic State’s “success in radicalizing some youth and attracting some sections of the local population or the Indian diaspora to physically participate in its activities”, it indirectly magnified the threat perception of the IS among people. Terror is not an issue that Home Minister Rajnath Singh should be casually discussing with media persons on the sidelines of a function. He needlessly lauded the striking capacity of the IS when he said it posed “a threat for the entire world”.
The fight against terror has to be a rigorous, quiet and coordinated effort aimed at plugging loopholes in the state of preparedness. Intelligence sharing with other countries makes little sense when the Centre and states fail to do so within the country. States are particularly vulnerable. Leave alone having a specialized trained force to combat terror, policing, intelligence gathering and the security apparatus at the state level are far from professional. Even the Centre, despite the NIA, is ill-equipped to handle Paris-type strikes at crowded places. Mocking the security setup, an NRI rammed his SUV into the Wagah border gate on Monday. That the intruder could reach the border gate unchallenged in itself is an unflattering reflection on a regime that takes considerable pride in its masochism.
While hundred per cent security at every vulnerable spot may be difficult, states need to be constantly motivated in modernizing policing and strengthening intelligence. Regular preparedness drills can help locate cracks which terrorists can take advantage of. There is no need to broadcast to the nation that the IS has a limited presence in India and that it has appeal among certain youth. We have yet to learn the importance of quiet, skilled capacity-building. The need is to monitor social sites more closely and wean youth from interacting with IS cells through persuasion, preferably, and by force, if necessary. Politicians and media have to take care that they don’t end up playing into the hands of terrorists by spreading scare. The IS fear has been internationalized unconsciously.