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Combating Hatred

All-out efforts must be made To end religious conflicts

In what appears to be highly coordinated attacks terrorists bombed three churches and four hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday, targeting Christians attending Easter mass and hotels hosting foreigners that has sent the world in shock. Nearly 300 people, including six Indians visiting the island nation, are reported to have been killed in the attack, which left over 500 people injured. This is the first time in over a decade that terror elements carried out attacks on the Sri Lankan soil after the end of 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil separatists. Though no group has come forward to claim the responsibility for the attack, the officials have put the blame on “radical terrorists”. There is speculation that it could be a retaliatory attack on Christians for an attack on Muslims. It is disconcerting to note that the terror elements chose to target Christians on one of their holiest days. Given the scale of tragedy, it is necessary that the international community provides all assistance to the island nation to root out terror from its soil without giving any room to the perpetrators of heinous crime to go scot-free.

It is surprising that the Sri Lankan security forces chose to ignore the threat inputs from India and its own officials. Intelligence inputs were available as early as April 11 about possible attacks by terrorists belonging to a little known Islamist group. Why did the officials choose to ignore the threats? Was it over-confidence that let the Sri Lankan security forces down? As Sri Lanka has remained peaceful since the end of civil war over a decade ago, its forces might have felt that the warnings coming forth from any corner did not require the attention and action that was seen during the war with Tamil separatists. The indifference on the part of officials concerned cost highly as hundreds of people were killed and almost double the number of others injured. The terror attacks will leave a lasting impact on the island nation, its people and tourists alike and hurt its economy. The tourism sector which was picking up would be badly affected in the aftermath of the attacks.

Religious bloodshed is not new to Sri Lanka, predominantly a Buddhist nation, which has a significant presence of Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. Sunday’s attacks have been presumably carried out with the help of an international network. Acting swiftly the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to seek the help of the international community to track down the international links to the attackers. The country’s authorities have decided to refrain from naming those behind the attacks. They have said that they do not give extremists a voice and help to make them martyrs. The Sri Lankan authorities have apparently acted swiftly and declared a national emergency even as the hunt for the perpetrators of the massacre has been launched. The needle of suspicion is on the National Towheeth Jamaath and the attackers have been identified as Sri Lankan nationals. It is necessary that international links to the attacks are identified and those responsible for helping in the attacks are punished.

The attacks in Sri Lanka have proved that terrorism is not confined to one country and that any country or community could be its target. The recent attack on Muslims offering prayers in New Zealand is a testimony that any community can be target of those with devilish mind. The attacks also prove that it was necessary that the guard against terrorism cannot be lowered at any time, however peaceful the society may be. It is necessary that the international community joins hands and intensifies its war on terrorism. The terror modules must be tracked down and busted. For, rather than trying to identify those responsible for attack on humanity it would be better if the attempts were made for preventing terrorists from carrying out attacks. The global society would have to play its role in this endeavour by being vigilant. Increased vigilance and swift action by the national authorities on the inputs from society could go a long way in preventing attacks. The Sri Lankan authorities need to take war against terror to those responsible and eliminate terror from its soil. At the same time, all-out efforts have to be made to minimize factors that excite religious passions.

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