Thanks to Vinayak, Indian blogger at Law for the Common Man (and elsewhere), for sending us a link to a very provocative article.
Vinayak was responding to a July 19 piece I wrote on the Indian Government's move to censor blogs critical of islamic fundamentalism, as a "counter-terrorism" move in the wake of the jihadist train bombings in Mumbai, India.
Turns out that this outright censorship is the least of that nation's concerns.
Vinayak blogged on a recent article in the India Times newspaper outlining what I guess is the inevitable consequence of putting party before country, and personal power above personal integrity.
It paints a sad picture of multi-party politics in India, and one can't help wondering if the day will come when this trend will find its way into our system as well.
The trend: political parties seeing terrorist sympathizers as a voting block, and courting their vote:
We have recently heard that the verdict in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case will be delivered in early August. Imagine, this top-priority case has dragged on for 13 years, despite being heard by a TADA [Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act ] court, with supposedly fast-track procedures!
So, do not mistake arrests by the police of suspects in the latest Mumbai blasts for quick action. This case too may take 13 years. ...
But having been locked up for 13 years, they may emerge as ripe terrorist material. Besides, callous politicians now use the police as a political tool.
When chief ministers regularly arrest opposition leaders on charges that never end in convictions, people see the police-judicial process as political theatre rather than a justice system.
This has accelerated the criminalisation of politics. A new, dangerous development is the emergence of terrorists as vote banks. Abdul Nasser Mahdani, chief accused in the 1998 Coimbatore bomb blast, is wooed by both the DMK and the Left Front.
They seek the support of his People's Democratic Party, a Muslim outfit floated by him after his earlier Islamic Sevak Sangh was banned. ...
We have long witnessed criminals being wooed by political parties and given cabinet posts because their muscle and money power fetches crucial votes.
Elections are won and lost on swings of just 1% of the vote, so parties cynically woo every possible vote bank, including those headed by accused robbers and murderers.
Having wooed criminals, the logical next step is for political parties to woo terrorist outfits too. These may also command enough votes to swing some constituencies.
Indeed, the more our polity gets communalised, the more terrorists of all stripes will become politically attractive. Why jail a terrorist who can win you the next election?
Keep him on your side, otherwise his followers may switch to the opposition. In Uttar Pradesh [India's "Northern Province"], the chief minister has defended SIMI, the banned terrorist Muslim outfit.
One of his ministers, Haji Qureshi, has announced a reward of Rs 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonist who portrayed the prophet. [I think this means 510,000,000 rupees, or approx 12,000, 000 Canadian dollars]
This is incitement to murder and terrorism, yet is fully supported by the chief minister, who needs every possible Muslim vote in next year's state election. ...
Yet, the day may come when rewards will be offered, openly or covertly, for killing Muslim hate objects like Gujarat chief minister Modi. Politics apart, long legal delays (as in the Mumbai and Coimbatore blast cases) can fuel communal riots.
What police-judicial reforms do we need?
First, we need an independent Police Commission, along the lines of the Election Commission, with all-India staff to investigate and prosecute crime.
This function must be taken out of the hands of politicians. State governments can have separate forces for maintaining public order, but criminal investigation should be the job of a separate, autonomous police force.
That will help move criminals (and possibly terrorists) out of legislatures and into jails.
Second, we need many more judges, and judicial procedures that ensure quick decisions. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Third, we need a law mandating the immediate hearing and disposal of all criminal cases against elected legislators. Today, criminals join politics to delay cases they face.
But if these cases have to be disposed of before all others, criminals will avoid rather than join politics.
We might even see some cabinet ministers resigning in panic and going back to crime.
Many Canadians are today bemoaning Prime Minister Stephen Harper's principled stand in favor of Israel, critizing him for "humiliating" Canada in general and his party in particular; since the "numbers" are against him, it is somehow wrong to put principle above pragmatic political calculations.
Reading this story out of India gives us a sense of what might lie in store for our nation, should we actually follow the value system of these critics down to its eventual conclusion.
The "terrorist special interest group"... the voting block of the future?