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Stop giving terrorists publicity

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Dear Friends,

It was Paris, Brussels, Nice, Munich and God knows how many other cities in the future. It has now become  a oft on activity and is no longer a seldom one— and I am talking of these well planned in quick succession terrorist attacks on the western world. And the most predictable is  ritual after each new terrorist attack of media discussing it, condemning it and blaming the governments of the target country having become lax. But is this also not a time for and duty of the  media to also identify the reasons for the ability of the declared terrorist groups to do so?

Europe welcomed with open arms the immigrants from Syria, Turkey, Portugal and other Islamic nations harbouring terrorism. When they poured in millions into main land Europe, were the welcoming governments naïve enough to not realise that for every genuine immigrant there would be two members of these misguided groups who would take refuge and then conduct their terrorist activities to spread terror amongst the masses.

Police have agreed  that most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium. Some of them lived only hundreds of yards from the main police station, in a neighbourhood known as a haven for extremists, and even then there was no control. intelligence is actually accurate and  good, but ability of administration and governments to act on it leaves much to be desired. The crux is that there is no lack of data, but there definitely is lack of implementation on information authorities already have.

India and its governance is no different. We can have a Pathankot  and still not have anything done to protect the vast cantonment areas, where entry is as easy as into the local market. Also in a world where digitalisation is the mantra and social media the mode, all these banned organisations have pages and identifications on Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites. Videos on there activities are being uploaded, liked and shared but neither the intelligence agencies nor cyber policing can take any clues from it not do anything about it. It makes these men heroes.

Gone are the times when Apple and Blackberry were fruits. The technology giants  Apple, Samsung, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others should make it possible for law enforcement to decode encrypted messages the companies’ customers send and receive. But requiring that companies build such back doors into their devices and software could make those systems much more vulnerable to hacking by criminals and spies. Technology experts say that government could just as easily establish links between suspects, without the use of back doors, by examining who they call or message, how often and for how long.

In truth, intelligence authorities are still able to do most of what they did before — only now with a little more oversight by the media,  courts and the public. There is no dispute that they and law enforcement agencies should have the necessary powers to detect and stop attacks before they happen. But that does not mean unquestioning acceptance of ineffective and very likely unconstitutional tactics that reduce civil liberties without making the public safer.

The media apart from yelling at the highest possible decibels should remember that each non-sensicle discussion leads to giving these terrorists and their activities free publicity , which we as responsible citizens of the world should avoid. Why can we just not mention in the passing and focus more on developmental news. Lets just deprive them of their hunger for publicity. For all we know this could be a possible solution to dampening the spirits of these groups.  Shouldn’t such strategies be discussed among all media houses globally and shouldn’t they work in tandem with each other to achieve this common goal? Agenda setting theory of the mass media could be just the right strategy in this case and the media globally can set the agenda for itself as watchdog and for the audience to avoid talking and bothering about these groups. For all we know this could work as a reverse psychology for the terrorists.

What is new to the western world has been India’s problem for decades but none of the big brothers of the world reacted. Hopefully now that they are the affected parties too, they will realise what India has gone through. And hope they realise solutions to such problems cannot be taken in isolation. The world has to face  it and solve it together.

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