Another day, another set of bombs going off and killing the innocent: this time in Delhi. Several thoughts come to mind.
- As I wrote a little over a month ago, preventing bombings of open markets in a free society is pretty near impossible. These particular bombings prove the cowardice of the attackers, and nothing else. But that won't stop magazines like India Today from raving about our being a "weak state", and the BJP-ites demanding draconian laws like POTA.
- The attackers are probably a small outfit (the authorities claim they are linked to the banned SIMI). Finding them will require intelligence (in various senses of the word. What will not help is demonising the Muslim community as a whole -- most of them are as revulsed by such things as anyone else, and victimising them will only enlarge the numbers of those willing to throw bombs. (Say there are about 200 million Muslims in India. You alienate 10% of them, that's 20 million. 1% of the alienated ones become radicalised, that's 200,000. 1% of those are sufficiently radicalised to throw bombs, that's 2,000. Not nice.)
- Everyone is agreed that this is terrorism. Why isn't everyone agreed that what has been happening recently in Orissa is also terrorism?
- Many of the bombs are in garbage cans. I was in Paris when 9/11 happened in 2001; immediately after, the opaque metallic garbage cans in the city disappeared, to be replaced by transparent plastic bags hung from a ring. We in India have hardly begun to get used to public garbage cans, and will now be wary of them.
- We live outside city limits in Chennai, so the municipal garbage collection service does not reach us. Rather than dump our garbage on the open mounds where the local panchayat periodically collects it, we tend to pack it in a bag and drop it in one of the garbage cans inside city limits, about 1 km away. But dropping a bag into an opaque container with unknown contents may make me nervous now. Moreover, other people seeing me drop a bag into a garbage can may get nervous too (who does that sort of thing around here?)
There are more thoughts, but I'll stop at that...