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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bombing at New Delhi – faraway battle getting closer here.

Sad that we are getting immune to hearing of bomb blasts and terror killings.  Not so infrequently, we hear of acts of terrorism but this one presents totally new perspective of lurking danger !!

Last Sept (2011) a powerful blast ripped through the reception counter of Delhi High Court Complex in the heart of capital leaving at least a dozen dead and hundreds wounded.  In a standard reaction, the Prime Minister would call it an act of cowardice, the Home Minister would see the cross-border hand; nothing would be done and ceremoniously it would be forgotten with the passage of time !!

Yesterday’s (13th Feb 12) bombing in New Delhi presents an entirely newer perspective.  The explosion wounded only 4 which included the wife of an Embassy’s defense attache.  There was another similar attempt elsewhere – in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the device was discovered on a vehicle parked at the Israeli Embassy and disarmed harmlessly.  Tal Yehoshua Koren, an embassy official who is also the wife of Israel's defence attaché, sustained serious injuries when a bomb fixed to her Innova car went off at 3.15 p.m., less than 500 metres from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's official residence. Ms. Koren was on her way to pick up her children from school. Delhi Police Commissioner said eyewitnesses confirmed that “a device had been affixed to the vehicle by a motorcyclist” who passed the car. Police sources  stated that they were sifting through high-resolution images obtained from closed-circuit cameras installed in the area.

It is clearly a fight between two Nations spilling on Indian soil.  Monday's attempted assassination of an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi pulls India in the middle of escalating tensions of West Asia and raises fresh fears on Nation’s vulnerability to international terrorism.

There expectedly was reflexive reaction from  Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blaming Iran and the Lebanese group Hizbollah for the attack and vowed vengeance; but that does not provide any panacea for our woes. We have to take strong action against perpetrators for it is a crime committed on Indian soil and we do not want blood and terror here, especially when we have nothing to do with the cause.   The attack also demonstrates persistent deficiencies in our emergency-response systems, noting that no lockdown of nearby roads was put in place even though the attack took place close to the Prime Minister's residence.  Interestingly, Israeli Press hailed Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of  Israeli Defense Ministry representative to India, as heroic and getting out of the car timely after motorcyclist attached bomb to vehicle;  and was acclaimed as amazingly level-headed. After the incident, Israel's foreign ministry said the country had the ability to track down those who carried out the attacks and  Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast rejected Mr Netanyahu's accusation, calling it "psychological warfare against Iran".  The BBC's  reports suggest that security at Israeli embassies had been tightened in recent months following warnings of potential attacks, after Iran accused Israel of a series of attacks on its nuclear scientists. 

So long as the different sides in this conflict remain confident that they know who was responsible, the chances are that they will continue to try and strike back but we should never allow any such thing happening in our soil nor allow India being used in the hands of terrorists for conveniently pursuing their ends.  

There have been economic implications in the long drawn friendship that India exhibited to Iran.  Oil imports from Iran account for 12 percent of India’s needs;  the US and the European Union  have been escalating  pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear energy programme,  they are tightening the screw of sanctions on Iran. The West has offered securing supplies from Saudi in return for Indian abidance by the sanctions against Iran.   India has seldom exhibited strong signals as the Nation’s reluctance to sign on for sanctions against Iran is not driven just by its energy dependence on that country.   With that relationship with the supplier of crude oil, India has had a close relationship with Israel in terms of defence cooperation. 

Whether it is crude import or defence needs, India should not get drawn in the crossfire fight spilling over in our Indian soil which will have far-reaching ramifications on country’s safety and sovereignty. Quite unfortunately, that faraway battle is now closer home.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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