Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Terror attacks are more serious threat than natural calamities or accidents

     A blogger named Bhagwad has argued in his blog that more people die in train accidents than in terror attacks, than why people's responses differ in both the cases. This is not the first time that he has argued about this, even earlier also he had put similar arguments in his articles.
           I think he is not alone who argues like this there are many like him who argues like this and hence the comment which I have put on his blog is kept here in the form of post with little modification for the discussion.
         People’s response toward blast is more intense than train accidents, but it’s not just because people fear more from dying in bomb blast than from dying in train accidents. Actually people’s response in both the cases is born out of the combination of fear, anger and frustration. Of course people feel more anger and frustration in case of terror attacks than that of train accidents, because I and many others like me feel that terrorist attacks are more serious threat than train accidents.

Following are the psychological, social and political reasons behind my analogy.

1) Since train accident doesn’t involve any motive or ideology whereas bomb blast definitely do. Therefore people feel more rage after terror attacks than after train accidents. This is the reason people show much intense response when incidents like Nithari killings or Gang rape (in their respective locality) comes out than towards train accidents even though more people die in later case. Because, in a civilized society we can’t tolerate people living and roaming freely with such heinous intents whether it be terror attacks or gang rape or serial killings.
2) Train accident doesn’t involve such social aftermaths which a terror attack follows. Bomb blast divides society on a communal basis. In a society like India where we are already living with lot of mistrust and suspicion for each other, terror attacks done by someone with communal motives easily allows other community to blame the ‘particular community' for communal disharmony. It also strengthens prejudices in the minds of both the communities. This is the reason terms like Hindu terrorism and Islamic terrorism are gaining popularity in India. And the most disheartening thing is that Greedy politicians are using these feelings of fear and suspicion for their vote bank gains.
3)  Although communal riots are not considered as terror attacks but terror attacks plays a triggering role in sparking communal riots (1984 Anti Sikh riots). It works like a vicious circle. People indulge in communal riots to revenge bomb blast and more terror attacks are conducted by few petulant people to avenge communal riots.
4) Terror attacks are more harmful for the society because many fundamentalist people associate ideological proximity with these terrorists and aspire to become like them and convert others in their ideology (Love Jihad). Even those who don’t actively participate in attacks can passively help them by supplying funds, sympathy and ideological support. Remember how people of Pakistan were crying and mourning during the death of Osama bin laden. This type of ideological proximity with a terrorist is thousand times more harmful to the society in long term than the death of a hundred or thousand people in train accidents.
5) Terrorist attacks are not just killings of innocent people they are also war against state (as this is also one charge against Kasab in 26/11 case). In a civilized and a democratic society no one can be deprived of his/her life and liberty except for the violation of law (through legally established procedure). Terrorists by killing people in this way are directly challenging the authority of state. In fact fundamental aim of every terrorist organisation is to replace the state in long term. Whether it is Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Naxalites in India or any other terrorist organisation. They all work with the sole aim of replacing the state and if they are taken casually they grow in strength and establish their parallel government.
6)  Anger and frustration showed by people after bomb blast is not just a result of that particular event. In fact it’s an accumulated rage of many other incidents like harm done to our economy by injecting fake currency in our economy, or Kashmir issue or infiltration on the borders and many other illegal activities like smuggling, drug peddling done by these terrorists. Bomb blast plays a triggering role to this. It’s similar to that of you feel anger on your boss because of various reasons but usually you don’t speak out, but one day your boss did something terrible enough to enrage you and you blow out all your anger on him. In this case that event when you lost your temper, just proved to be a triggering event for you but anger which came out was accumulated since long time.
7) As argued by another commentator Train accidents are preventable while terrorist attacks are harder to prevent if people are willing to blow themselves up, then how do you prevent that? if we accept this argument than this makes it even more dangerous. Because we can control train accidents whenever we decide to do so (and it’s not that government is not doing anything to control the train accidents but accidents which occur due to human error are inevitable to control), but it is not as easy to control terrorist attacks and if we deal with them in casual manner then they can grow in strength and can be more dangerous. Just imagine the terrorists who can penetrate into highly secured Taj Mahal hotel or Parliament house with so many arms, can’t they penetrate into the security of BARC or India’s nuclear arsenal?

        Although you can argue that people can die in disasters like Fukushima or Chernobyl Nuclear plants but don’t forget that if after taking so much precautions(which we take now) disasters like Chernobyl or Fukushima occurs than it’s a matter of chance, but if same thing happens because of terrorist attack than it’s a deliberate crime. Person can die because of cancer even if he doesn’t smoke cigarette, on the other hand one of my uncle who used to smoke 100 cigarettes in a day died naturally at the ripe old age of 95, but that’s purely a matter of chance now I can’t use it as a justification to smoke cigarette.
8) Finally even though it is harder to prevent terrorist attack it is not impossible to prevent it. World’s first suicide attack was carried on by LTTE but today it has been rooted from Sri Lankan land. Indonesia lost 300 people in Bali bombings but after that the way it strongly dealt with terrorists, it hasn’t given any other chance to terrorist organisations to conduct further attacks. U.S is another example of it.
9) I think this is enough to convince why terror attacks are more serious than train accidents and why people’s response is justifiable. However the only thing which is wrong in people’s response is differing intensity in the response toward different terror attacks and terrorist activities. When terrorist attack occurs in Mumbai, Ahmadabad or Delhi we make lot of hue and cry, but when 75 soldiers of CRPF died in Naxal attack in Rampur (Chattisgarh) we didn’t even showed 10% anger of what we are showing presently. Why this discrimination? Because Naxals never attacks in metro cities? Or because we don’t care for the soldiers of military and Para military forces who are giving their lives for our safety. When terrorist organisations of Nagaland blockaded Manipur national highway and thereby cutting Manipur with the whole nation nobody in India raised voice for them. Did we ever care to know to what pain they were passing? Because of this blockade petrol cost 200 ` per litter, grains cost 85 to 100 ` per Kg and perishable products like vegetables, fruits and milk wasn’t available at all. But how many of us cared for it in fact of most of us doesn’t even know about it. Sometimes I feel that India is not a nation because nation comes into existence through the feeling of togetherness felt by the people living in a land, but everyone pools in opposite direction just for his/her own selfish reasons. Urban class doesn’t consider Naxalism as big threat because it doesn’t directly affect them, leaders give irresponsible statements after every terrorist attack to appease their respective vote banks.

P.S- In two of my previous posts I have discussed in detail how our intelligence network works, why our intelligence agencies fail to detect the terrorist attacks and what measures can be taken to improve the intelligence network of this country. If you liked my analogy in this article than you will like these articles too.


  1. Bhavin, it is very argued post, a systematic analysis of all the different factors and issues, passionate and yet balanced.

  2. Thanx for the feedback Sunil.

  3. Whether death by terror attacks or train accidents, we (the government, the people, as Indians) do not value human lives.

  4. This is the reason every time we are crushed like mosquitoes by terrorists. May be its because of overcrowding which we have in our country.


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