Hierarchy of terror

After watching the non-stop telecast of the Tehelka sting till midnight on day one (interspersed with numerous ads inbetween), I was certain that satellite space is going to be filled with nothing but this for the next countless days. After stripping the videos of all the hype, the empty Rana-Pratap-boasting and words intelligently inserted into the oppressor-victims’ mouths by the reporter, the incident still had the necessary impact. This is the blackest story of our times in India.

To my surprise though, the ‘most important story of our times’ had been relegated to the pages of not-so-widely circulated Tehalha magazine and the scrolling newsbars of television. Is it the fear that the sting could be fake or is it the genuine fear that the story is actually bound to backfire and benefit those it is trying to expose?

The buried questions that are brought out by the sting scream asking for answers. The victims of Hindu riots may have been fewer than the victims of Islamist terror over a period of time (if riots and terror maybe painted with religious colours). But what makes organized riots more repulsive and frightening than organized terror? The motive and results are the same. But a Narendra Modi is going to be condemned by the intellectual more than even Osama. There is something indigestible about mass leaders inciting common man to kill and then walk free in the society. The life in hiding and fleeing itself is a punishment in a way for the terrorist. But the mass leaders are rewarded with votes and power. For a neutral observer, this is disgusting.

And somehow, one enraged person or team, planting a bomb to trigger off the deaths of people doesnt evoke the same horrid feeling as seeing a large group of incensed (idealogically or otherwise) people targetting specific individuals and raping, burning, slicing, hacking them to death. Somehow murder by hand is more harrowing than killing by a bomb of a terrorist or a soldier. Is it for the same reason why Hitler is more hated by History than Truman though Truman’s atom bombs probably claimed more lifes than Hitler’s gas chambers could in over a decade?

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