JAMMU: The policy planners in New Delhi have not learnt lessons from the mayhem and destruction unleashed by Pakistan sponsored radicalised Jihadis in the past three decades. True, the security forces are maintaining edge over terrorists by neutralising them in sustained encounters almost on a regular basis but what has been the response of the successive governments in tackling ultras or their sympathisers or supporters arrested from time to time? Absolutely dismal!It is not only a terror menace, unwanted elements entered into the country illegally too are getting long rope to settle down and dictate terms unlike other countries across the world where such entrants are dispensed justice within days. One wishes Indian judiciary too to expedite cases against such people on a fast-track basis.So long terrorists remain on the run in mountains or the hinterland and fear of getting eliminated by the security forces keeps haunting them. They always remain on tenterhooks to earn another day of life from the hot pursuit of valiant forces. However, once caught, they enjoy the best of the world in terms of cuisines, medicare and other facilities. They become so influential and important to have cell phones and other tech devices inside high security prisons. On July 14, 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir police seized 12 mobile phones and SIM cards from some inmates of the high-security Kot Bhalwal Central Jail during a surprise search operation. How these items got inside the prison is anybody’s guess.With the terror monster spreading fast its tentacles across India, it is time to revisit the strategy to tackle the menace. What should the nation do with the huge bunch of terrorists, rehabilitating in Indian jails on a regular basis? Treat them lavishly under a thick security umbrella with all facilities like Ajmal Kasab that cost the nation around Rs 50 crore or draw a strategy to ensure speedy judicial dispensation and ensure their safety as well.Indian government and the Indians will have to reconcile with the gruesome fact of terrorism as a reality. Detection of several indoctrinated outfits including ISIS modules in Kashmir is a very bad omen. They have to be neutralised or apprehended for the sake of national security and peace. But the problem arises when terrorists are apprehended and arrested. In the event of arrests, the biggest worry confronting designated agencies remains their lodging and movement for trials and other requisite legal procedures. This process is impregnated with risks.The nation has not forgotten how Pakistani terrorist Naved Jhatt fled from a hospital in Srinagar along with his accomplice after shooting two policemen accompanying them for medical checkup. This incident brought to the sharp focus the need for drawing a strategy to shift terrorists out of the Valley. After his escape, Jhatt got involved in several killings including that of Shujat Bukhari, a journalist before being gunned down in an encounter on 28 November last year.Jhatt’s escape set in motion shifting of nearly 40 hardened terrorists from Srinagar jails, which included Zia Mustafa, a terrorist from Pakistan involved in the 2003 Nadimarg massacre of Kashmiri Hindus. For the past 15 years he has been awaiting prosecution and punishment.Mustafa is a case study, like that of Ajmal Kasab, which can help the nation to draw a plan for tackling terrorism. Instead of lodging and feeding terrorists lavishly in various prisons under several layers of security cover, the Centre must consider setting up a designated jail complex at a solitary place like Andaman or Lakshadweep or any other island to minimise huge expenditure at the cost of poor Indian tax payers. The complex can have adequate capacity with solitary cells and centralised security cover. Together with the designated jail complex, an adequate number of fast track courts should be established that can carry out judicial dispensation via video conferencing. Covid times have proven the efficacy of the hearings in virtual mode. Such a mechanism is necessary to arrest the tendency of delaying prosecution of terrorists, like in the case of Naadimarg massacre mastermind Zia Mustafa and to save the exchequer of huge expenses as spent on Ajmal Kasab.According to various RTI replies besides proceedings and statements made in the Maharashtra Assembly a whopping amount between Rs 29.5 and Rs 50 crore were incurred on food, security, medicines and clothes during the confinement of Ajmal Kasab in Arthur Road Central Jail in Mumbai. The Maharashtra government had also incurred an expenditure of Rs. 2 crores on building a bullet and bomb proof cell for him in the prison, along with a bomb and bullet proof tunnel (connecting the court specially set up for him) fortified with iron walls and ceiling to ward off any terrorist strike with bombs. A special Rs 1.5 crore ward was constructed in Mumbai’s J. J Hospital for his treatment with other infrastructure and vehicles involving a cost of another Rs 1 crore. Ironically, he was never shifted to the hospital but specialists used to visit the jail for his treatment.The case studies of Mumbai’s Arthur Jail and Srinagar’s Central Jail underline the crucial necessity of a centralised jail with fast track courts, as terrorism is for real in India.
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