FE Editorial: After Pune

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Feb 16 2010, 01:46am hrs
For those in the business of jingoism and hysteria, it would be tempting to equate the bomb blast in a prominent Pune eatery on Saturday to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Superficially, the bomb blast in Pune, the first terror attack in India after 26/11, shares a number of things in common with Mumbaia weekend attack in peak hours, an upmarket target, a locality teeming with foreigners and a Jewish Chabad House round the corner. Of course, while every terror attack must be condemned in the strongest terms, its important to analyse the Pune incident differently from 26/11. The Union home minister was absolutely correct when he said the Pune attack wasnt about intelligence failure (unlike Mumbai, which was). If anything, the trail of David Headley had already revealed this area as a potential target, which makes it tempting to blame someone loudly for letting terrorists strike at this very location. But it isnt realistically possible for the police forces to guard every place at all times, and so some targets will always be softer than othersthe nearby Chabad house and Osho ashram, for example, had better security.

What is possible though is for the local police forces to be completely focused on the huge task (of countering terror) at hand. Lets make no mistake, we live in a rough neighbourhood and the threat of terror is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. However, in recent weeks, police in Maharashtra (and Mumbai in particular) has been deployed in numbers to tackle the menace of the Shiv Sena and allied groups. In the context of a state that has been vulnerable to terror attacks in the recent past, should the preeminent job of its police forces be to ensure the peaceful screening of a film Or indeed to deploy in numbers to prevent motley groups from disrupting the peace on Valentines Day Incredibly, those are precisely the issues that would have been top of the mind for the Maharashtra police in the run-up to the Pune bomb blast. And this isnt a comment on the police forces, but rather on the state of politics in Maharashtra. Its time that politicians across the political spectrum in Maharashtra take up issues of genuine importance, and not frivolities. The government of Ashok Chavan in particular needs to pull up its socks. Law and order is a state subject and while the Centre has a role to play in countering terror, state governments cannot shy away from responsibility and accountability. The Union home minister has done a very good job of revamping the internal security apparatus in Delhi. It would help if his efforts were complemented by the states.