Tighten security, but don’t give up on secularism: British media

July 28th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Narendra Modi

London, July 28 (IANS) Recent coordinated bombings in India pose a serious security challenge that should prompt Indian leaders to ask if they are the work of home-grown Islamic extremists, the British media said Monday. “…The worry preoccupying all Indian politicians is whether Islamist extremism has finally taken root in India,” The Times said in an editorial.

“Until now, India has been spared much of the extremist terrorism that has racked much of the Muslim world,” it said, adding Indian Muslims have “not been radicalised so far by the global jihadist movement”.

“Despite three wars with Pakistan, terrorist infiltration and more than 60 years of tension, India’s Muslims have not, on the whole, been seen as a fifth column under the sway of outside agitators. Al Qaeda has no indigenous presence. India’s secular constitution has been sufficiently robust to withstand assaults by religious extremists on all sides.”

The paper said equally there are suspicions that the attacks could have been the work of “shadowy figures in Pakistan or Bangladesh”, including the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

“If so, this shows the urgent need for the authorities in both these Muslim countries, which have a vital interest in better relations with their neighbour, to crack down on militants who thrive on tension to advance their own extremist agenda.

“But any sign that the contagion of extremism has infected India’s 120-million strong Muslim community should be treated with the utmost seriousness. All India could be at risk.”

The Independent, in its editorial, praised India for its record on secularism and criticised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s statement of a “war being waged against India”.

“India is not ‘at war’, not yet by a long chalk. But there is no doubt that terrorists of various sorts, not only the Islamic variety, are becoming bolder and more violent and are moving from border states like Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland towards the centre,” the paper said.

“In difficult times, India must not give up its laudable struggle to hold a wide range of ethnic and religious communities within one national fold,” the paper added.

The Financial Times said in a news report that the attacks threw a challenge to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to improve its security record ahead of general election.

“They will also alarm foreign investors. The world’s biggest technology companies, investment banks and global consultancy firms, from IBM to Goldman Sachs and Accenture, employ thousands of people in Bangalore and other cities.

“The government’s record on solving such cases has been patchy at best. And while police claim to have foiled a number of terrorist plots in recent years, the number of attacks has continued to increase,” the Financial Times added.

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