There has to be a clear national consensus on certain things. One of these is terrorism. Non-violence was almost a fetish for Mahatma Gandhi, who sometimes expected people to respond to violence in ways that were unrealistically noble, but that is a standard by which India can conduct its anti-terrorism policy. Gandhi wanted people to rise to a level where they feared nothing as individuals – a state of mind that would help them forge the best response. This required a selflessness and nobility in life and purpose for each person. At no time did he ask people to succumb or surrender to injustice because of cowardice.
The absolutely pointless killing of an Arunachal MLA and ten others by members of a Naga rebel group on Tuesday brings to the fore, once again, the lack of an effective response to terrorism as a political weapon. There is no doubt that the security forces will sooner or later bring the killers to book or dispatch them to purgatory, but it is unfortunate that anybody in the present day and age should think that India will buckle under such tactics. If they do, it is only because of the mixed messages being sent out by the political establishment. Every time there is a crisis of this sort, Parliament should stand as one in its condemnation. In the long term, it should work as one to inject the socio-political culture with the necessary resolve against terror activities, be they in whatever name. Going soft on one kind and condemning another will not do. As in the case of MLA Tirong Aboh, there is no saying when the lawmakers, themselves, become victims of this malaise.
It must be recalled how this resolve has been instilled in the Sikh community by the personal example set by Guru Gobind Singh and his four sons. This is what the Mahatma had visualised – that the tyrant realise the futility of violence and intimidation against a people so spiritually strong that they overcome even the most intense physical pain. Once the spiritual strength is achieved, it extends to the physical world as difficult goals become easy. Unlike many of those who describe themselves as Gandhians, today, non-violence does not mean wimpiness or pretence, but an understanding of the nature of violence. This leads to a pragmatic, effective and considered response that recognises the symptoms and cures the causes. Like the superior martial arts, an attack is undone even before it is begun. Hopefully, the evolved nature of India’s democracy will flower in future action wherever it is needed in this regard.