The war against terror is uncomplicated. We know the enemy. The war against error is complex. We don’t know the enemy. Is it incompetence or sabotage?
Earlier the FBI had warned India about an impending attack from the sea targeting Hotel Trident and Hotel Taj. Security was clamped on both hotels. Mysteriously security was lifted. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was allowed to attend a function at Hotel Trident on 29/11. On 26/11 the terrorist attack occurred. I concluded it was a case of sabotage indicating infiltration by international agencies into the Indian government. I consequently wrote in that vein. Now I am not sure. Was it sabotage or incompetence?
Within the last few days the CBI went to Denmark to extradite Kim Davy carrying an expired warrant for arrest! One fugitive listed as a wanted terrorist from Pakistan was discovered to be in India lodged in jail! Shortly thereafter another fugitive similarly listed in the most wanted list submitted to Pakistan was also found to be in an Indian jail! Is it believable that such monumental errors one after the other are due to incompetence? Was the Trident Hotel goof-up arising from incompetence? Are the current errors arising from sabotage? It is all very confusing.
What is not confusing is that accountability for such damaging lapses that make us the world’s laughing stock and give Pakistan a handle to rubbish all our claims against it cannot be restricted to a few officials. The cabinet, the Home Minister who furnished the list to Pakistan and the Home Secretary are all accountable. Indeed, the nation is accountable for failing to reappraise the flawed system that has rendered our investigative agencies pathetically ineffective.
The CBI is in tatters. Its officers are competent. But they must work under politicians who interfere to use the agency as an instrument to coerce opponents or protect allies. To overcome this problem the Lokpal Bill is being contemplated. No lessons have been learnt from the failed performance of the Central Vigilance Commission.
Decades have passed but not a single CBI probe has led to success and conviction of political leaders.
Politicians and political pundits keep prattling about the need to make the investigative agencies autonomous and free from interference by politicians. None has indicated to whom these should be made accountable.
In desperation the farcical Lokpal Bill is being debated. The glaring distortion of the President’s role is resolutely ignored although it is the one impartial office with a national mandate and constitutional responsibility to credibly overlook the functioning of investigative agencies and even Governors. I have written enough on the subject and will not tax the reader with repetition.
Surely the Home Minister should offer an explanation more satisfactory than describing the current lapses as merely human errors? For starters, has he shown sufficient initiative to introduce a common data base for all investigative agencies to minimize chances of error? Is he or any of his colleagues at all interested in doing their jobs instead of focusing only on personal advancement and never mind the rest? In any normal democracy the Home Minister would have accepted constructive responsibility for the monumental errors committed and resigned.
However, we function in abnormal times. As Mr. Prakash Karat argued after his party’s poll debacle, there was no reason for him to resign because all decisions were collective! By the same logic it is not Dr. Manmohan Singh or Mr. Chidambaram who was responsible for the errors. It was a collective failure.
We are all to blame. We cannot resign because we do not hold office. But we must resign ourselves to accept our fate!