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E-Pao! Opinion - Into the new world of terrorism

Into the new world of terrorism

By: Donn Morgan Kipgen *



Welcome to the new old world of terrorism, the embarrassing red list of world tourism good book. The Switzerland of India, i.e. Manipur has just been seriously admitted as a member of high-risk tourist spot in foreign embassies. The shocking bombing of religious festivity at ISKCON which killed four innocent lives and causing physical injuries to some foreigners on that fateful 16th day of August, 2006, had done unreasonable damage to the otherwise deceptive image of Manipur. Whatsoever the reason behind it might be, it is a great shame to the citizens of Manipur. Having crossed the Rubicon line, mere words or even 'justifiable explanations', so common in UG militant institutions in this State, just cannot simply be accepted under any circumstance whatsoever. Say what you may, the atheistic bombing of ISKCON was an act of radical terrorism, way above other domestic terrorism caused by means of violent extremism.

We all have remained tight-lip about idealistic acts of terrorism for so long a period, so much so that some UG extremists and SF personnel indulged in domestic terrorism all in the name of insurgency movements and counter-insurgent operations (CIOps). This is right about time to make a case study on the very term 'Terrorism' in its literal sense and the future status of Manipur, the land of five parallel Govts with three nations.

In Her Majesty the Queen's English, the term Terrorism/Terrorist implies any deadly or grievously intimidating acts of terror or armed extremist actions committed against the general public and civil authorities with fatally malicious intent. It can also be interpreted politco-militarily as any viciously armed intimidating or brutal act which cause absolute fear-psychosis amongst hapless civilians by any armed, even unarmed in some cases, establishment anywhere under any circumstance. Hence, all brutal or bloody premeditated acts of violence methodically carried out by both Govt law enforcement agencies and UG militants can be classified as an 'act of terrorism' if they fit the literal sense. Terrorism, thus, has no face, identity, caste, creed or parametre nor physical boundary.

Now, then, who are terrorists and what are their ideals or status? Broadly speaking, almost all the designated terrorists are or have been fighting for their radical ideology as revolutionary outfits and right-wing UG militants fighting for total independence, liberation or political freedom by most extreme manners zealously with maximum outputs. Terrorists are brutally suicidal militants targeting both soft and hard targets disregarding their physical safety and the lives of human beings without moral sentiments except their own outfits.

We have witnessed massacres, multiple unlawful executions, bombings of stores residences and secret booby-trappings as 'early warnings, non-official curfews and restrictions, etc etc.. We regularly read about bloody ambushes and more bloody retaliation, killings in public places with total disregarding of the physical safety of unwary ordinary citizens. We all know the irresponsible mortarings, bombing and heavy machine-gunnings and fatal retaliations in and around a locality or inhabited areas. How do we technically classify all these actions of both SF personnel and UG outfits in the last 25 years of CIOps? They are nothing but an act of terror. Period.

Contrary to public observation, terrorism is not just about statistical mayhem nor only a high profile bombings or radical acts of destructive armed attack. It can also be a armed raidings, physical and mental atrocities, a single act of bloody rage and any other armed assaults or intimidations.

A civil organisation can also be termed as terrorist outfit, if they indulge in terrifying innocent citizens. Sadly, terrorists are generally associated with bearded and turbaned radical Islamic armed extremists, Balkan ethnic militiamen, suicide-bombers in the Middle-east etc. Needless to say, terrorism is fallibly associated exclusively with extremist outfits like the Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Mujahideens, Talibans, ETA (Basque), African Warload, etc. This influential perception cannot be farther from the bare truth.

And this is actually why the 8/16 ISKCON bombing shocked the more learned citizens of Manipur, whose memories seem to be extremely short and their partial observation highly selective. This act of terrorism on 8/16 was not the first and will not be the last if the state of Manipur is run like this. It was a very good thing the Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh, kept his trade mark tears in full control and was shocked enough to recollect his workable English in front the world's spotlight. However, the ex-gratia announcement at that juncture and place was quiet irresponsible, if not insulting. Money cannot buy like, comfort and security.

The Chief Minister should have kept in mind the presence of foreigners and non-Manipuris in this tragedy. For them, the promise of ex-gratia payments would be another shock since such hasty political statement would be foreign to foreigners in the casualty list. Protocol demands public announcement for hefty monetary rewards for information leading to the arrest of the culprit(s).

In Manipur, many acts of terrorism have been better known as ambushes, retaliatory firing, destructive armed raids, mass extortions and warnings, staged-encounters, armed forces atrocities, capital punishments for anti-social elements, violent agitations, ethnic clean-sings, public curfews, kidnap for punishment and ransoms, reactionary movements etc. Yes, there are no official terrorists in Manipur but literal acts of terrorism have had been certainly committed in the form of insurgency movements and CIOps in the 20 years or so. This is an undeniable fact not openly accepted by the general public but they indeed were such acts nevertheless. However, they understandably were committed strictly on ethnic, military and socio-political grounds.

So, they were not supposed to be acts of terrorism. The terror at ISKCON was most shocking because it was done upon religious festivity. Other such known shocking incident was the deadly attack upon a church at Haipi village, Sadar Hills, during a New Year's night religious service where in 7 innocent Kuki villagers were gunned-down during the height of Kuki-Naga ethnic war. Such things did regularly happened in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East countries where rival Shia and Sunni Muslims sects bombed each other during religious services. One exceptional gory attack was carried out by an American-born Israeli named Baruch Goldstein when cut down over 50 Palestinian Muslims in a Mosque with M-16 and Galeel assaults rifles, plus grenades, which also injured nearly 100 worshippers in that bloody carnage.

Goldstein, an Israeli reservist, was shred to pieces by enraged mob as he ran out of ammunitions on both his assault rifles extra magazines. Talk about ammos, now, how on earth a 9-10 year-old kid went on record that the bomb that exploded at ISKCON was a Chinese-made hand-grenade? Even a senior police officer could not have known the make from a short distance with clear mind. A grenade explodes usually between 5-6 seconds after the pin is drawn.

That street smart kid could not have been standing close enough to identify the grenade without any fear for such a long time and escape safely without a scratch. Was he tutored by others to stand before the mediapersons or had he seen the bomb much earlier than that fateful day? That boy is a material and a very promising witness for the investigators.

A Chinese hand grenade type is also produced by Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, North Korea, Burma, Iraq, etc and even by Eastern bloc countries for exports just like AK-47 produced by China and former Warsaw pack countries. Or, could the bomb be a more cylindrical anti-personnel device or the lethal bouncing hand grenades? Many witnesses had told the police and media persons that they heard a cracker-like explosive sound seconds before deadly explosion which cost four precious lives and injuries to over 50 devotees. Anti-personnel grenades work like a bouncing land-mines. If witness and injured victims were to be believed there was an explosive sound seconds before the explosion.

Well, AP and cylindrical-shaped grenades are used by US, Russian, NATO and South American armed forces to neutralise pill-boxes and sandbagged posts. First, there will be an implosion to eject and bounce handgrenade so to explode the fragmentation device off or over the ground, or explode as it bounce in the air for maximum damage. An ordinary handgrenade could not have caused so much devastating damage even according to the law of average. The undeniable evidence of the nature of the bomb are embedded in the dead bodies and the injured victims.

Whatever said and done, the overall image of Manipur has been badly compromised in international stage. The valuable prospects of foreign aided-tourism and international trade centres have taken a nasty battering with insurgency movement on the backdrop.

Many foreign-sponsored NGOs have decided to review their professional safety status by standing down their noble missions in Manipur. It is just about the right time for all the citizen to denounce all acts of terrorism in any form by any institution. We just cannot remain muted spectators to all gory killings and armed attacks. The people's power is the most powerful and influential power.


* Donn Morgan Kipgen wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 19th August 2006.


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