The Mumbai terror incidents have once again energised the whole exercise of strengthening our security apparatus, increasing the strength of our police forces in terms of sheer numbers as well as modern gadgets, augmenting coastal security, beefing up the intelligence machinery, providing increased security at sensitive places and bringing about required changes in law. All these steps are absolutely necessary. But the key issue, it appears, is to educate and train the citizens so as to enable them to detect possible terrorist incidents in time, identify terrorists and their accomplices and defend themselves if a terror strike takes place.
The key issue is that I, as an individual, must know what I am supposed to do if somebody suddenly points an AK-47 at me while I am busy shopping. I must know what I should do if some gun-totting terrorists suddenly enter my office while I am at work. I must know what exactly I am supposed to do if I am taken hostage? I must know what help I can provide to myself and my fellow citizens in the case of injury in a terrorist attack. If only I have answers to such questions, I will feel confident. No one can help me better than I myself. I cannot rely on anyone more than I can do on myself.
Ours is a nation of over one billion and if such a large number of persons can be trained to prevent terror strikes and save themselves as well as others during such strikes, the job of police will be much easier and the job of terrorists much more difficult. But educating such a large number is a daunting task. It is time we start seriously considering how to accomplish this task effectively in the quickest possible time. Needless to say that this cannot be left to the Government alone. All civil society organisations must join hands. After all, this is a question of our own survival.