The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. A Tanzanian student in Bangalore was allegedly stripped and beaten by a mob, and her car torched, while the police looked on.
2. Union Minister Rajnath Singh says the Indian government will stand by Pakistan if it takes decisive action against terror.
3. Ten soldiers go missing after an avalanche hits the Siachen region in Kashmir.
The Big Story: Anti-radicalisation
Maharashtra is going to fight them in the textbooks, fight them in the schools. Under instructions from the Union home ministry to draw up a comprehensive strategy to counter the spread of the Islamic State, the state government has rolled out itsderadicalisation programme. It includes opening up vyayamshalas in minority areas, making the National Cadet Corps as well as the Bharat Scouts and Guides compulsory in minority schools, and having a media outlet to pour “mainstream thoughts and values” into minority youth. This is accompanied by a socio-economic strategy to bring minority communities into the mainstream.
Better opportunities might go a long way in countering the appeal of extremist ideology; material deprivations and social exclusion have been known to drive youth to terror. But the rest of the deradicalisation programme raises a question: in its aggressive mainstreaming of the minority, is the government merely replacing one kind of propaganda with another? The alternative to religious extremism seems to be a muscular nationalism. This is to be laced with some yoga – the Bharatiya Janata Party’s magic cure to all problems.
Maharashtra could take some lessons from Britain’s misadventure with counter terrorism. “Prevent”, the David Cameron government’s programme to fight radicalisation, has only alienated the country’s Muslims, who constantly feel their Britishness called into question. Researcher Aminul Hoque notes how one of the major sites of tension is the school, where the government has bullishly gone about teaching “British values”.
The Maharashtra government also seems to ignore other major causes for resentment among minorities: entrenched biases that prompt the police to indiscriminately round up and arrest Muslim youth every time there is a terror attack, the slurs and prejudices that have forced the community into ghettos of deprivation. The state government’s programme asks the Muslim community to reinvent itself, but it leaves out other communities that play a part in the process of radicalisation.
The Big Scroll: Scroll.in on the day’s big story
Ann Aly of the Conversation asks whether “lone wolves” are terrorists or simply gunmen.
Aminul Hoque of the Conversation on how young British Muslims are alienated by the rhetoric of counter-terrorism.
TK Devasia on how a Muslim outfit in Kerala campaigns against the IS ideology.
Politicking and policying
1. In Jammu and Kashmir, a questionnaire distributed by the police, seeking details about the sects to which citizens belong and their links to militancy or separatism, sparks widespread anger.
2. Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar is reportedly planning a mahagatbandhan against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Uttar Pradesh elections next year.
3. The Congress plans a Dalit meet later this month, with vice president Rahul Gandhi as one of the speakers.
1. In the Indian Express, K Satyanarayana argues that Rohith Vemula’s death should focus attention on the rites of exclusion on college campuses.
2. In the Hindu, Suhas Palshikar on how the BJP has combined middle class anxieties and media excitement to stay in power.
3. In the Business Standard, AV Rajwade on the problem with inflation targeting.
Reema Omer on how military courts in Pakistan cannot be a quick fix solution to terror:
The operation of military courts has come at great cost to human rights and the judiciary’s independence, which has been argued in detail on these pages. The promised “quick results”, however, are yet to be seen. This is not surprising, as the very rationale behind the establishment of military courts is flawed, if not deliberately deceptive.
The premise of the 21st Amendment was a hastily constructed narrative that “civilian courts have failed”. This claim was supported by assertions that civilian anti-terrorism courts have high rates of acquittal and judges deliberately let “terrorists” off the hook, either because of fear or sympathy.
Notwithstanding the fact that equating justice with the rate of convictions is abhorrent to the rule of law (only in authoritarian regimes lacking an independent judiciary are there no acquittals), curiously, none of the advocates of military courts, whether in parliament or in the media, presented any evidence to demonstrate why the civilian judiciary is incapable of bringing perpetrators of terrorism to justice.