Arindam Chaudhuri
Religious Terrorism: No ifs, buts, or alienation rubbish. It’s the highest form of condemnable inhumanity.
[October, 2008]

With the shootouts and arrests of a number of suspected terrorists, the police seem to have cracked the series of bombings that have been rocking India of late. The interesting thing is that most of those arrested have two things in common. Firstly, they are from Azamgarh (and our cover story focuses on that); and secondly, they all seem to be educated.

I was recently there for an interview on a TV channel and the topic being discussed was – “Educated terrorists! Is it the new face of terrorism?” What really shocked me was the complete lack of perspective on the entire issue that the speakers had. While one top police officer said that it was not his concern, the other speaker – the head of a well known university – started blabbering that it’s the result of alienation, discrimination, economic marginalisation and the Gujarat massacre, etc., etc., almost giving his tacit support to the heinous act of barbarism that happened recently in Delhi and other cities. He even tried to compare them with the Naxalites, trying to indicate that terrorism is not religion-specific.

The reality, of course, is quite different. First things first! Terrorists, over the years, have mostly been educated. If you go back to, say, the freedom struggle, most of our freedom fighters – terrorists, from the British government’s perspective – were educated people. In fact, education is what gives them a much better clarity of purpose, perhaps. As per a research done on 172 Al Qaeda terrorists by Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist, 90 per cent were found to be from stable economic backgrounds, with two-thirds of them having gone to college; and two-thirds of them being professionals with an average age of 26 and with the ability to speak three to six languages!! It is the purpose that defines the act as an act of bravery or an act of barbarism. The terrorists of yesteryears, Indian freedom fighters, were fighting against foreign rule – a worthwhile cause – and therefore, they were called freedom fighters. The Iraqi terrorists, to many, are also fighting for an anti-imperialistic cause – and therefore, in this very edit column of mine, I have time and again criticised the American war on Iraq, perhaps more than any other editor in India.

But above all, what differentiates the terrorists I’ve described above from the people in India who are planting bombs here and there and taking innocent lives is the fact that these ones are aiming at achieving nothing and are inspired by shameful religious dogmatism. Their grievances are not real either. And anyone who tries to even remotely justify these shameful acts by talking about their marginalisation is actually trying to pamper the existence of such elements in the society. If we are to talk of oppression, the Dalits and Scheduled Castes are the most oppressed people in India. They don’t resort to terrorism. They don’t kill innocent people on streets. It’s the same with the Naxalites. They haven’t been trying to kill innocent people on the streets. Their war is against oppression by the State, so they attack the State governance machinery – like the ministers and the police. Not that that is justified in any way, but it at least makes the cause clear. All this is totally unlike these boys planting bombs, taking videos of the same and then rejoicing, calling themselves as ‘most wanted’. Compare this to the fact that in their fight against oppression, Dalits have even taken the political route and have started ruling the largest state of India today.

The conclusion, therefore, is that when it comes to religious terrorism of this kind that takes innocent lives, the terrorist might be formally educated, or might be an illiterate, but he surely is ill-educated in life – for education can never lead to such illogical, irrational and barbaric behaviour. Every educated human being must condemn such acts without ifs buts or any alienation rubbish!!!
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