Sanjha Morcha

Lashkar behind Kupwara attack: Army Combing on to track down injured militant; restrictions in parts of frontier district

Lashkar behind Kupwara attack: Army
The wreath-laying ceremony at the Badamibagh cantonment in Srinagar on Friday. Tribune photo

Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 28

The security forces are zeroing in on a newly infiltrated Lashkar-e-Toiba group for the fidayeen attack on the Panzgam artillery garrison in the frontier Kupwara district that left a Captain and two soldiers dead.While the Army on Friday intensified the combing operation to track down an injured militant involved in the attack, the investigation has revealed that three fidayeen who stormed the camp belonged to the Lashkar.“Lashkar is behind the fidayeen attack,” a senior defence official said. However, no militant group has so far owned responsibility for the attack.The officer said it was yet not clear whether the militants involved in the attack were fresh infiltrators or were active in or around the area for some time. “The infiltration possibility is being checked,” the officer said.However, sources said the three-member fidayeen group might have crossed the Line of Control during night earlier this week along the Doomari ridge in the Keran sector. The Army investigators were analysing the GPS sets and maps that were recovered from the two slain militants.The Army carried out a search operation around the Panzgam garrison and the thick forest area from where the militants are believed to have entered the highly fortified Army base after cutting the fence wire.“Many Army units are combing various areas to nab the injured militant,” a source said. All health centres across the district are being kept under watch as the injured militant might be brought for treatment.Meanwhile, the state government imposed restrictions in some parts of Kupwara on Friday to foil protests over the death of a civilian, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, in the alleged Army firing on protesters seeking the bodies of the two slain militants on Thursday.“The situation was normal across Kupwara and there were no report of any violent incident,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Shamsher Hussain.

Tributes paid to three bravehearts

Srinagar, April 28

Rich tributes were paid here today to three Army personnel, including Captain Ayush Yadav, who lost their lives in an encounter with militants at Panzgam village of Kupwara district on Thursday.Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen JS Sandhu laid wreaths on the bodies of Captian Yadav, Subedar Bhoop Singh Gurjar and Naik Botta Venkata Ramana at the Badamibagh cantonment in Srinagar this morning and paid rich tributes to them.Officers from the civil administration and other security forces were also present at the wreath-laying ceremony.“The Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families and remains committed to their dignity and well-being,” a defence spokesman said.The spokesman said Captian Yadav, hailing from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was survived by his parents.He said Subedar Bhoop Singh Gurjar of Rajasthan had joined the Army in 1992 and was remembered as a true patriot. He is survived by his wife and two children, he added.Naik Botta Venkata Ramana hailed from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and is survived by his wife and two children, the spokesman said. TNS

25 CRPF men killed in Naxal attack Six injured as patrol sanitising road in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district ambushed

Raipur, April 24

At least 25 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed and six wounded today in a Naxalite attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district. A paramilitary patrol, 99-personnel strong, sanitising the area for a road to be laid, was attacked at 12:25 pm in Kala Pathar area of south Bastar, close to the Chintagufa-Burkapal-Bheji axis, the hotbed of Naxal violence that has seen a series of such attacks in the past. All troops belonged to the 74th Battalion, sources said. Reinforcements, including CoBRA commandos, have been rushed to the site.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)“We have lost 25 men.

We are still to account for all personnel. A search is on,” said a senior CRPF officer. While 11 bodies were recovered first, 12 more were found during combing operations, he said. A jawan died on way to hospital. The company commander, Raghubir Singh, an Inspector-rank officer, was among those killed. An injured jawan, brought to a hospital here, said they were attacked by 300 Maoists. “The Naxals first sent villagers to check our position. I also saw some women Naxals. They were all in black uniform and carried sophisticated weapons, such as AK assault rifles.”  A considerable number of Naxals are believed to have been killed in retaliatory action, according to the CRPF.  Officials said the ambush set up by the Naxals was as deadly as the one on March 11 in Bheji area of Sukma district in which 12 personnel had died. Another survivor said the Naxals, who were in hiding, opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed hand grenades, taking the patrol by  surprise. The wounded troopers, who were airlifted and hospitalised, were identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector RP Hembram and constables Swaroop Kumar, Mohinder Singh, Jitendra Kumar, Sher Mohammed and Latoo Oraon. The incident comes at a time when the country’s largest paramilitary force is without a full-time chief.  Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi reviewed the situation in the aftermath of the attack at North Block.A “distressed” Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, cut short his Delhi visit and rushed to Raipur. “Strongly condemn attack on CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh; condolences to families of deceased and prayers for injured,” President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh sent Minister of State Hansraj Ahir to Chhattisgarh to take stock of the situation. “Extremely pained to know about the killing. My tributes to the martyrs and condolences to their families,” he tweeted. — PTI

Force without regular chief for 2 months

  • The CRPF remains headless for almost two months now with the government yet to appoint its regular Director General (DG), even as the country’s largest paramilitary force lost 38 personnel in line of duty in two major ambushes during the period. Post K Durga Prasad’s retirement on February 28, the Union Home Ministry appointed Additional DG Sudeep Lakhtakia to hold the charge in “additional” capacity. While officials in the Home Ministry say the appointment of a full-time DG is expected soon, those in the CRPF maintain there was “no word” yet. A senior Home Ministry official said a panel of eligible IPS officers had already been prepared but there was no finality on the name of the next DG for the nearly 3-lakh-strong force so far. PTI



Time to dismantle terror safe havens: India on Afghan attack

Time to dismantle terror safe havens: India on Afghan attack
Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of attack in northern Afghanistan. AFP

New Delhi, April 22

India on Saturday strongly condemned the terror attack on an army base in northern Afghanistan, saying it is a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle safe havens sustaining terrorism from outside that country’s borders.

(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

The External Affairs Ministry, in a statement, said India remained steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism.

At least 140 soldiers were killed and wounded in a coordinated Taliban attack on the army base near the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday.

“The terrorist attack is a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle the safe havens and sanctuaries that support and sustain terrorism in Afghanistan from outside its borders,” the MEA said, in an apparent reference to the terror infrastructure in Pakistan.

It said the government and the people of India extend their deepest condolences and stand with the government and people of Afghanistan at this difficult moment.

“India remains steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism and bringing perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice, wherever they maybe,” the statement said. — PTI

ARMY RECRUITMENT Love for olive green increases by 30 per cent

In all, 20, 295 candidates register for Army rally

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18

An Army recruitment rally commenced at the Dholewal Military Station, Ludhiana, under the aegis of the Headquarters Recruiting Zone (Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir) today.The rally is for candidates from Ludhiana, Moga, Roopnagar and SAS Nagar (Mohali).Brig JS Samyal, Deputy Director General, Recruitment (Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir), said 20, 295 candidates had registered for the ongoing rally in Ludhiana. He said there was a 30 per cent increase in the candidate registration than the previous year.He said: “The candidates are being screened for drug intake by the medical officers. Selected candidates would then undergo a written test on May 28 and those who clear the test will be dispatched to various training centres.”Brig JS Samyal said the recruitment process was computerised and absolutely transparent, involving independent and separate board of officers. He exhorted the desirable candidates not to fall prey to touts and undesirable elements and participate whole heartedly to meet their aspirations of serving the nation by joining the Indian Army.Recruiting Director Col Kamal Kishore and other Army officials were present.

Pakistan’s changemaker by R.K. Kaushik

ulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was one of the most consequential political figures of Pakistan, shifted the focus of the country from clergy to the economy. He gave Pakistan its constitution and confidence as a nation. He was hanged on April 4, 1979.

The Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in Simla. His daughter Benazir Bhutto and India’s Foreign Minister Swaran Singh look on.

Nusrat Bhutto after her husband’s execution.

IT was on April 4, 1979, that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi District Jail at 2 am by hangman Tara Masih. The Jail Superintendent Yar Mohammed, then Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi Saeed Mehdi, CSP the then SSP Rawalpindi Jehanzeb Burki, PSP  and SP  (Special Branch) Raja Mehmood, along with the C.O. of 17th Punjab Regiment Lt Col Rafi Alam were were witness to his death.When his body was buried at Garhi Khuda Baksh in Larkana District of Sindh (Pakistan), it marked the end of the life of a popular political leader of Pakistan. Leadership is generally thought to be a desirable trait, except when a leader becomes too conscious of his or her position and refuses to acknowledge any rank and file, but imposes and implements his own philosophies. Under this category, however, there happen to be such leaders who built states and empires, and have marvellous achievements to their credit. Leadership in fascist ideologies may take on a special role, but in normal terms it is seen as an embodiment of the people and the nation. Bhutto was one leader who was hugely liked by people but vaultingly  dictatorial in exercise of power. Born on January 5, 1928, to Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto and Lakhi Bai. His family owned 1. 21 lakh acres of land which was spread over 39 villages in Larkana, District of Sindh. His mother, Lakhi Bai, (his father’s third wife) was a Hindu from Pune. Bhutto was educated in Bombay’s Cathedral High School, University of California at Berkeley and later Christ Church College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn. He returned to Pakistan in November, 1953 and was taken into Ayub Khan’s cabinet in 1958 at the age of 30. He held the portfolios of  National Resources, Fuel and Power and Kashmir Affairs. Later on, he also became the Foreign Minister. He was opposed to the Tashkent agreement with India and resigned from the Cabinet in January, 1966 as Foreign Minister. He mobilised students, youth, labour and farmers against Ayub Khan’s  regime and started a country-wide agitation.  After the defeat and surrender of the Pakistan army on December 16, 1971 at Dacca he took charge as the Chief Martial Law Administrator on December 20, 1971. He had supported the Pakistan army’s crackdown in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) with gleeful sadism. Bhutto was handsome and dapper, with Rajput lineage. He had a glad eye and responded to overtures from beautiful women. Bhutto came to Shimla for negotiations on June 28, 1972 and signed the Simla Agreement with Indira Gandhi.  DP Dhar recalled that he was at his diplomatic best and recited many Urdu couplets during the talks with  Indira Gandhi, including, “Dushmani shauq se karo magar yeh gunjaiysh rahe, phir kabhi dost ban jayain toh sharminda na hon.” (Be enemies by all means but never take it to a level, where in case you become friends again, you feel ashamed.)He gave much thought to military reforms and had read on how Hitler and Mussolini had dealt with rebellious generals as well as how Napoleon had accomplished all that he did. He had closely seen Iskander Mirza,  Ayub and Yahya and knew the “mind” of the Pakistan military and its temptations and blindspots, its singular strengths and weaknesses. He ruled like a medieval monarch and was imperious, rather arrogant, in his conduct. He was idiosyncratic and had a behaviour disorder. He would  humiliate and insult a colleague or a general in public. Bhutto began Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme with zeal. He held the World Islamic summit in June, 1974 at Lahore  during the post-oil crisis phase. Bhutto has a number of historic achievements to his credit. Bhutto’s foundation of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was a setback for the reactionary forces in a country long dominated by the Right. The slogan of “Food, Shelter and Clothing” shifted the focus of Pakistan politics from theological to economic issues. This focus has never shifted back. Bhutto nationalised the economy, which was yet another blow to the capitalist West. During his tenure, there was a massive transfer of resources towards the dominant rural economy by setting higher prices for agricultural products. The Constitution of 1973, passed unanimously, is yet another lasting legacy of Bhutto. He established the Pakistan Steel Mills, Heavy Mechanical Complex Taxila, Port Qasim Authority, Quaid-i-Azam University, Allama Iqbal Open University, Karachi Nuclear Power Plant — thus, fortifying the prosperity and integrity. Using his expeience as a Foreign Minister, Bhutto cemented Pakistan’s relations with Afro-Asian and Islamic countries. It was in September 1976 that the then US Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger warned him of grave consequences if he ever put his nuclear weapons programme on track. “You would be a horrible example for others to see,” Kissinger had threatened. Bhutto held the 1977 elections which were allegedly rigged, leading to a nation-wide agitation by all opposition parties under the banner of the Pakistan National Alliance.  More than 300 persons were killed in police and army firings and on July 5, 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq conducted Operation “Fair Play” and imposed martial law in Pakistan. General Zia had come  from an Arain Muslim family (Kamboj and Sainis converted to Islam)  of Jalandhar and his father Akbar Ali was a head clerk in the Ministry of Defence Services in British India. His frugal background notwithstanding, Zia had graduated in History (Hons) in 1944 from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He was commissioned into the 2nd cavalry in June, 1945.Bhutto was tried in a sham, nay charade, trial in the high court and the supreme court of Pakistan, leading to his death by hanging. Bhutto would be assessed as a third world leader who wanted to do a lot of things for his poor country but wittingly or rather advertently tread on a path which annoyed super powers and regional giants, leading to his ultimate removal from power and the world. Bhutto used to say that a leader must know the aspirations of the people and on the basis of those aspirations give the people a bold direction. A deception in this contract is most fatal.  However, legacy of ZA Bhutto still haunts and irritates Pakistan’s powerful establishment because he repeatedly said the more the dominance of the army, the shorter the life of Pakistan. The writer is an IAS officer of the Punjab Cadre.  

12,000 km to pay tribute to martyrs Retd Maj General pedalling two minutes each for 21,000 fallen soldiers

12,000 km to pay tribute to martyrs
Maj Gen Somnath Jha (retd), who is cycling across the country to pay tribute to martyrs, in Chandimandir on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

With pix

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9

Taking 42,000 minutes to cover 12,000 km on a bicycle is an indomitable way to pay tribute to fallen comrade-in-arms. This is just what Maj Gen Somnath Jha, an officer who hung up his boots a little over six months ago, is doing.He pedalled into Chandimandir Military Station today towards the fag end of his expedition, having covered 11,500 km across 26 states over the past 185 days. After laying a wreath at the Veer Smriti war memorial, he interacted with officers, troops and their families.Maj Gen Jha was commissioned into the 8th Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and he superannuated on September 30, 2016, from Ambala. He had graduated from the Government College for Men, Chandigarh, in 1978 and was part of the Panjab University’s cricket and swimming teams.On October 19, just 18 days into his retirement, he embarked on his mission from Ambala to pay homage to the martyred soldiers of the country since Independence, which number close to 21,000. He has given himself the mandate of cycling two minutes for each fallen soldier.Another objective the veteran general, a third generation soldier, has laid down for himself, is to ride through all 29 states of the nation, since the fallen heroes come from every corner of the country. His expedition will culminate in New Delhi, by which time he would have been on the saddle for over 200 days.He is being supported in this endeavour by his wife, Chitra Jha, who is a life skills coach and author of several motivational books. She is accompanying him all through the journey, taking care of administration and logistics.3rd-gen soldier rode through all statesAnother objective the veteran general, a third generation soldier, has laid down for himself, is to ride through all 29 states of the nation, since the fallen heroes come from every corner of the country. His expedition will culminate in New Delhi, by which time he would have been on the saddle for over 200 days.

Loans, card payments above Rs 2 L in cash to be shown in ITR form

Loans, card payments above Rs 2 L in cash to be shown in ITR form
File photo for representation only.

New Delhi, April 9All cash payments of over Rs 2 lakh for paying loans and credit card bills during the 50-day period post demonetisation will have to be disclosed in the new one-page Income Tax return form.The tax department a few days back notified new Income Tax Return (ITR) forms for filing of returns for the assessment year 2017-18 (financial year 2016-17).(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)Besides providing for declaring income, exemption claimed and tax paid, the forms have a new column providing for declaration for any deposit of over Rs 2 lakh in bank accounts made during November 9 and December 30, 2016, after the old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes were demonetised.This column is also to be used for declaring cash payments in excess of Rs 2 lakh for repayment of any loan or settlement of credit card bills during this 50-day period, a senior official told PTI here.“The column is an attempt to match the cash deposits made post demonetisation with the annual income,” he said.While all credit cards are linked to permanent account number (PAN) of the holder, almost all loans by scheduled banks are also provided on furnishing of PAN.The tax department will collate the data it has of cash payments made in excess of Rs 2 lakh with the returns filed.“We want to see if the income profile matches with the cash payments made,” he said.The move comes amid concerns of unaccounted cash or black money being used to settle bills after credit cards were used to make heavy purchases.It could also be that black money could have been used to repay loans.Post-demonetisation, the government had provided a 50-day window beginning November 9, 2016 to deposit the junked notes in bank accounts.For those with unaccounted cash, it gave them one last opportunity to come clean by depositing 50 per cent of it as tax and parking another 25 per cent in a zero-interest bearing deposit for four years.The changes made in ITR are an attempt to catch tax evaders, the official said.Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had last week told PTI that the new column of cash deposits made during November 9, 2016 and December 30, 2016 was a one-time feature in the ITR and would not be there in the ITR from next year onwards.The ITR, he had said, would evolve or change every year depending on the need. — PTI

‘No one will question BSF’s decision to induct women’

CHANDIGARH: Come April 16, and the BSF’s first woman combat officer, Tanu Shree Pareek, 25, will take over the command of a unit at the Hussainiwala border in Punjab. Pareek, who was the only woman trainee among 51 men at the Border Security Force academy in Tekanpur, passed out last month with three coveted medals — the second best all-rounder, the best public speaker, and director’s baton for the best in drill. She was also selected to lead the passing out parade that saw home minister Rajnath Singh taking the salute.

Born and raised in a traditional joint family of 28 members with four uncles and nine cousins in the dusty town of Rajasthan’s Bikaner, Pareek is quite a trailblazer. “I often hear people describing themselves as a second or third generation soldier; well, I am the first in seven generations to join a combat arm,” laughs Pareek, whose father is a veterinarian.

Pareek, who describes herself as versatile and tenacious, is an electronics engineer by training with a master’s in rural development and a post-graduate diploma in women and gender studies. The 25-year-old was drawn to the uniform when she joined the NCC in college, and did particularly well in shooting and horse-riding. “The BSF sector headquarters is just a few kilometres away from my home. In that sense, I always felt close to them.”

So when she cleared the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) exam, and was told that the BSF had opened its doors to women officers, she opted for it over the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “It just seemed so right.”

Pareek says her family has always stood by her. “I was pampered at home by everyone because I was good at studies. They never questioned my decisions. When I took the CAPF exams, my grandfather told me ‘I want to see you in uniform’,” she says.


Acing the exams was one thing but training at the BSF academy was an altogether different ballgame. For one, Pareek was the only woman in the entire academy, be it in the training or administrative wing.

“Initially, I found it a bit strange, but now I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me,” says Pareek, who made sure she didn’t ask for any special treatment. “I forgot that I was a woman. I used to think, if they can do it, so can I,” she says. No wonder by the end of the training, she earned the title of “Iron Lady”.

For Pareek, who’s always enjoyed sports, the training was a year-long adventure. “The best part was that it was so unpredictable and exciting.” It also taught the trainee officers to work as a tight team. “If one person made a mistake, everyone had to pay for it,” says Pareek, whose favourite memory is of three days and three nights spent without a wink.

She fondly recalls the assault course that required the trainees to cross 16 obstacles on a 450-metre runway with a 5-kg INSAS rifle in hand and a 7-kilo backpack. “It involved a Burma bridge, spider mat crawl, and trench crossing among others with bullets flying all around and smoke in the air,” says Pareek, who also turned a diarist during the course. “I used to spend at least five to 10 minutes writing about my day,” she says, calling it an exercise in self-correction.

Now back home after a quick trip to McLeodganj, this officer is looking forward to her first assignment on the rugged borders of Punjab. “I am so glad they didn’t give me a headquarter posting,” says Pareek, who is raring to prove her mettle.

Trump’s first strike Reckless reaction too little for Syria

Donald Trump took his toughest action in Syria’s civil war when the US military let loose a volley of missiles on a Syrian air base said to be staging site for the April 4 chemical attacks. The US has tried this approach in Sudan, Somalia and many other locations. Each time the killed militant leaders have been replaced by new recruits. Apart from the fact that Syria had no pressing reason to use chemical weapons as it has the upper hand on the battlefield and a voice in the Geneva peace talks, one strike or two hardly deters a sovereign country.The US claims the strike was intended to deter Syria from launching chemical weapons again as well as to tweak Russia’s ears for incompetence in supervision. The muscular interventionist strike is clearly contrary to Trump’s earlier “we-are-not-in-the-business-of-regime-change” stance. The strike is being seen as the triumph of the internationalist faction within the Trump administration. All those who feared that Trump was going to “stay at home” and abandon US’s global responsibility can now feel a sense of satisfaction that the new President stands co-opted.It will never be clear who carried out the chemical weapon attacks: whether the Al Qaida\ISIS conducted a “false flag” attack or the Syrians themselves used a hidden cache. But Trump has clearly muddied the waters. The world had shown the resolve to exterminate the ISIS\Al Qaida. But the unilateral air strike effectively ends inter-country coordination in Syria and could trigger a wave of refugees whom the West does not want. All through the Syrian war, the West has protected non-state actors from total elimination because its endgame is Bashar al-Assad’s ouster. For a world shocked and horrified by the chemical attacks, the best tribute to the victims would be to give a new impetus to the Geneva talks while eschewing impetuosity in international affairs. The world community should also grab the Syrian offer for an impartial probe. The use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity and its perpetrators must experience the pressure and the torment of a probe.

US hits Syria, takes on Russia

59 missiles target air base days after ‘gas attack’ killed 70 civilians

US hits Syria, takes on Russia

Palm Beach/Beirut, April 7

The US fired 59 cruise missiles on Friday at a Syrian air ase from which President Donald Trump said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched, the first direct US assault on the government of Bashar al-Assad in six years of civil war.Edit: Trump’s first strikeIn the biggest foreign policy decision of his presidency so far, Trump ordered the step his predecessor Barack Obama never took: directly targeting the Syrian military for its suspected role in a poisonous gas attack that killed at least 70 people, catapulting Washington into confrontation with Russia.Trump announced the strikes from Florida, where he was meeting Chinese President.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)The Kremlin termed the strikes “illegal”. Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said the strikes were “one step away from clashing with the Russian military”. Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s office said they would strike enemies harder.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged restraint and said “there is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution”. US officials said the strike was a “one-off” intended to deter future chemical weapons attacks, and not an expansion of the US role in the Syria war.  The missiles were fired from two US warships from the Mediterranean, killing 15. — Agencies

This is how we can defeat IS

Britain’s response to the recent Westminster attack is a sign that the country is finally having a mature debate on terrorism

When Khalid Masood drove a car into a crowd in London last week, killing four people and injuring many more, it was Britain’s worst terror incident since 2005. It took him just 82 seconds to hit pedestrians and get to the Parliament building before stabbing a policeman and getting shot. The attack was over before anyone realised what had happened. How Britain reacted to its Westminster tragedy speaks volumes for how we can defeat Islamic State-inspired terrorism in the social media age.

ReUTersParticipants in the Women’s March gather on Westminster Bridge, London, March 26

Hours after the attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s calm and unifying words set the tone for the country. “The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech,” she said, ending with: “We will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.” The next day MPs stood up in Parliament one by one to pay their respects and stressed the need to unite the country to fight terrorism.

Of course there were rabble-rousers who leapt at the opportunity to get on television cameras. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the Ukip Party, wasted no time in blaming migrants for the attack. But Masood was not only born and raised a few kilometres from where Farage lived, he had come from a Christian family and later converted to Islam. Our social media age gives extremists voices an edge because they attract attention and end up driving the debate. They love the attention even if it’s negative. But it also makes it near impossible to have a reasonable public debate. Britain’s far-Right tried their best to score points over the terror attack, by blaming migrants, refugees, or Muslims, but found little hearing outside their bands of followers. Instead they faced an avalanche of criticism for trying to exploit the incident.

The measured manner in which the British establishment reacted to the London terror attack is to be celebrated. It’s worth reiterating that groups such as Islamic State (IS) need western countries to overreact to the terrorist threat. Their potency lies not just in the damage they inflict but also in the fear and panic they induce. Partly because they don’t want to be seen as “soft” on terrorism, and mostly because they also don’t like being threatened, our media and politicians rarely acknowledge how they also over-emphasise the risk from terrorism.

But terrorists would not succeed if their intended audiences did not feel threatened. Islamic State needs western governments to become paranoid and cast suspicions on all Muslims. It helps them. It makes it easier for them to groom new recruits. Britain’s response to the Westminster attack is a sign it is finally having a mature debate on terrorism, rather than being driven to panic as its tabloid press is prone to do.

British Muslims were also quick to understand the role they could play in reinforcing May’s words. One group raised over £30,000 (₹ 24 lakh) for the victims’ families in a week. Co-organiser Akeela Ahmed told me it was “our way of paying our respects to the victims and in some small way helping their loved ones.”

The day after the attack, Muslim women lined up holding hands across the Westminster Bridge to show their sorrow. A week later Muslim schoolgirls and imams were among the police and thousands of others at a vigil where the attack took place.

They wanted to emphasise this was their country too and they were united with non-Muslims against Islamic State. For a terrorist group that places a lot of importance on symbolism this was a visible slap.

The British establishment recognises that ordinary Muslims are essential allies in fighting those inspired by Islamic State. So far so good. But we may not be so lucky next time. Only four people died this time, plus Masood himself. Next time public opinion may be far uglier if more people die. Next time it could be worse.

With US President Donald Trump now in charge there is a palpable worry across Europe that a terrorist attack in the United States could push him to do something irreversibly dangerous. That has made Britain even more determined to sensibly tackle the problem.

It’s important we challenge religious extremists and their sympathisers wherever they are and stand for secular and democratic values. There is no doubt that Islamic State is a genocidal organisation that must be wiped out. But we cannot do this by falling into their trap. We cannot defeat terrorism if our actions, rather than weakening the enemy, make them stronger.