Editorial: The Terror Factor In Elections

Editorial: The Terror Factor In Elections

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, April 08, 2024, 09:34 PM IST
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Ceremony on the anniversary of the Pulwama attack | File/PTI

A recent report in a British newspaper that India had since 2020 conducted almost 20 extra judicial killings in Pakistan was rubbished by foreign office mandarins but Defence Minister Rajnath Singh when asked to react to the report, while not confirming it, said the government would not hesitate to hunt down its enemies both within and outside its borders. It is, however, common knowledge that several countries eliminate inimical elements in attacks across borders. The row over the murder of Khalistani sympathiser Hardeep Singh Nijjar, allegedly by Indian intelligence operatives in Canada, and the botched attempt on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, another pro-Khalistan proponent, also allegedly at the behest of India, according to the US, is therefore evidence of the hypocrisy of the West and Israel who have not hesitated to finish off “enemies of the state” in foreign territories. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has always advocated a tough line on infiltrators and anti-India elements. The UK newspaper’s report claimed that sleeper cells of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) based in the United Arab Emirates were tasked with seeking out impoverished Pakistanis to carry out the targeted killings in return for huge sums of money. The Ministry of External Affairs was quick to deny the report but it was enough to give Pakistan a handle to criticise India and show it in a poor light in the international community.

Rajnath Singh’s reiteration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that India will enter the houses of terrorists and eliminate them is ominous. Very worrying is the possibility of terror becoming a major poll issue in the days to come as India is in the middle of a high-powered election campaign. In February 2019 the Pulwama strike that killed 40 CRPF jawans had turned the tide of the general election that year. The subsequent Balakot strike deep into Pakistan territory was described to voters as a part of India’s new muscular policy whereby the enemy would be thrashed. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric reached its peak and though many questions were raised on the security lapses behind the Pulwama attack, no investigations followed. A terror attack now would only fuel passions and raise the communal temperature that is already nearly at boiling point. The Opposition has been crying foul about the lack of a level playing field but any terror incident would only further flatten it. Children are always taught that it is dangerous to play with fire but Indian politicians do not seem to have learnt that lesson. Their penchant for raising the stakes at any price may well cost them dear.

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