Ter­ror­ism in In­dia – The Cur­rent Scene

In­dia has un­for­tu­nately be­come the sponge that pro­tects us all. In­dia’s very prox­im­ity to Pak­istan, which has de­vel­oped into the epi­cen­ter of global ter­ror­ism dur­ing the last 30 years, has re­sulted in New Delhi ab­sorb­ing most of the blows un­leashed by tho

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

AT THE US SEN­ATE Com­mit­tee on Home­land Se­cu­rity and Gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs in Jan­uary 2009, Ash­ley Tel­lis of Carnegie En­dow­ment, strate­gic af­fairs ex­pert and an in­flu­en­tial pol­icy ad­viser, tes­ti­fied post26/11 Mum­bai ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Novem­ber 2008 be­gan his tes­ti­mony thus, “In­dia has un­for­tu­nately be­come the sponge that pro­tects us all. In­dia’s very prox­im­ity to Pak­istan, which has de­vel­oped into the epi­cen­ter of global ter­ror­ism dur­ing the last 30 years, has re­sulted in New Delhi ab­sorb­ing most of the blows un­leashed by those ter­ror­ist groups that treat it as a com­mon en­emy along with Is­rael, the United States, and the West more gen­er­ally.” Tel­lis ad­vised that Barack Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion should keep Pak­istan’s feet to the fire and en­sure that Is­lam­abad makes good on its prom­ises to take on ter­ror­ist groups. Tel­lis also termed In­dia’s re­sponse to the Mum­bai at­tack as in­ad­e­quate and sug­gested In­dia sets up a na­tional counter-ter­ror­ism cen­tre (NCTC) with US help.

Un­for­tu­nately, nei­ther the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion nor New Delhi took Ash­ley Tel­lis’s ad­vice se­ri­ously. The for­mer ob­vi­ously thought that it is good for the US and the West if In­dia re­mains the “sponge”. Even in the re­cent US Con­gres­sional hear­ing slam­ming Pak­istan’s dual game, the fo­cus is Afghanistan, not In­dia de­spite loads of ev­i­dence. In­dia’s politi­cians are too busy pol­i­tick­ing from one state elec­tion to another while the bu­reau­cracy that holds In­dia’s jugu­lar is least con­cerned about the vi­tal need for set­ting up the NCTC. Hence, Pak­istani mil­i­tary-ISI, be­ing the nerve cen­tre of a con­glom­er­ate of in­ter­linked ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions and en­joy­ing to­tal Chi­nese sup­port has a field day in tar­get­ing In­dia.

Jammu and Kash­mir—Killing of Burhan Wani

Given the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in J&K, that is where one should start look­ing while re­view­ing de­vel­op­ments in ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try. The killing of Burhan Wani was just a trigger but the phe­nom­e­non of mobs con­sis­tently at­tack­ing po­lice sta­tions and in­dulging in vi­o­lence and stonethrow­ing hardly trans­formed overnight. For­mer Chief Min­is­ter Omar Ab­dul­lah says that the present state gov­ern­ment has com­pounded the mis­takes done by his gov­ern­ment with­out elab­o­rat­ing what mis­takes his gov­ern­ment made. But it is ob­vi­ous that both gov­ern­ments con­tin­ued to ig­nore the politico-so­cio-eco­nomic as­pects of soft-ped­dled ter­ror­ists and ter­ror­ist acts for politico-eco­nomic ben­e­fits, lacked req­ui­site ad­min­is­tra­tion, leav­ing ev­ery­thing to se­cu­rity forces. This en­cour­aged Pak­istani mil­i­tary-ISI to in­crease the rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion of J&K, ral­ly­ing even those who only had gen­uine griev­ances only against the lack of ad­min­is­tra­tion. The man­ner in which the Sufi cul­ture of J&K has been qui- etly killed and re­placed by rad­i­cal Wa­habism is clear by the Arab type head­gear that is com­mon sight now, dis­trib­uted freely along with Pak­istani and ISIS flags – same head­gear worn by Hafiz Saeed. While Pak­istan ex­ploited the so­cial me­dia and even re­li­gious lead­ers to ig­nite anti-In­dia sen­ti­ment, the state gov­ern­ment did noth­ing to curb this wave. On the con­trary, even the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of sur­ren­dered mil­i­tants re­mains un­ad­dressed. There have never been at­tempts to con­nect with the pop­u­la­tion par­tic­u­larly the youth by the state ad­min­is­tra­tion, leav­ing it to Hur­riyat sep­a­ratist who al­ways preach sedi­tion, adding fuel to fire.

The J&K state gov­ern­ment has been ig­nor­ing the pe­ri­odic un­furl­ing of Pak­istani and ISIS flags in J&K and the vit­ri­olic from loud­speak­ers of mosques dur­ing Fri­day prayers. All this clearly fa­cil­i­tates LeT’s Is­lamic ji­had which is linked to global ji­had. Some 634 jailed stone-pel­ters were granted amnesty just in time to join the protests. Pak­istani in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts, en­coun­ters with ter­ror­ists are pe­ri­odic while po­lice posts are be­ing at­tacked reg­u­larly. De­spite the help ren­dered by the mil­i­tary dur­ing the dis­as­trous floods of 2014, ISI and ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions have suc­cess­fully been able to fan anti-In­dia sen­ti­ments in the Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. There is no ef­fort on our part to bring home to the youth they are be­ing ‘used’ by forces in­im­i­cal to their wel­fare, and that of their kith and kin. They are not even be­ing made aware of the sub­si­dies and state ben­e­fits they en­joy com­pared to rest of In­dia, and com­par­a­tive de­vel­op­ment and liv­ing con­di­tions be­tween J&K and the Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kash­mir (PoK), lat­ter be­ing far worse. To top this, the Me­hbooba Gov­ern­ment ap­pears in­tent on mak­ing some po­lice­men scape­goats for ‘ex­cesses’ de­spite the ca­su­al­ties the po­lice forces have suf­fered. But then sim­i­larly weren’t per­son­nel of Rashtriya Ri­fles made scape­goats just be­fore the J&K elec­tions for mak­ing po­lit­i­cal brown­ies?

Our soft re­sponse en­cour­aged stone­pel­ters in J&K to be­come even more ag­gres­sive. So the sit­u­a­tion in J&K has de­te­ri­o­rated and our paid me­dia sup­ports the sep­a­ratist up­surge, ex­hort­ing that even armed ter­ror­ist not be killed de­spite po­lice sta­tions be­ing burned, weapons looted and at­tempt made to at­tack an air­base. Con­stant me­dia cov­er­age helps the ter­ror­ists spread the dis­con­tent fur­ther. Sure democ­ra­cies have con­straints but Is­rael, also democ­racy, jails stone-pel­ters, ter­mi­nat­ing their state ben­e­fits. Pak­istan is a sham democ­racy, but they black­out oc­cur­rences in Balochis­tan, Gil­gitBaltistan and NWFP fully. We don’t have to copy how China, Pak­istan and Sri Lanka deal with in­sur­gency but cer­tainly we could draw les­sons. Pak­istan is fully de­ter­mined to keep rais­ing the pres­sure in J&K, the state­ments within Pak­istan in­clud­ing of Nawaz Sharif, the as­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion, ob­ser­vance of black day, and the machi­na­tions of LeT-JuD’s Hafiz Saeed and HuM’s Salahud­din with Pak­istani mil­i­tary back­ing are ev­i­dence enough. Un­less we adopt a well co­or­di­nated ap­proach (not just soft-pulp), in­clud­ing proac­tive ac­tions to get hold of Pak­istani fault lines, Pak­istan will con­tinue to rad­i­calise J&K Mus­lims in­creas­ingly and fan the fires fur­ther.

Rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tu­tions

The sec­ond ma­jor de­vel­op­ment in In­dia has been the suc­cess of the ISI to fan anti-In­dia and sedi­tious sen­ti­ments in our ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­larly the Jawa­har­lal Nehru Univer­sity (JNU)-sup­ported by a sec­tion of our me­dia that ob­vi­ously is on pay­roll of forces in­im­i­cal to In­dia, in­clud­ing funds be­ing fun­neled through so-called NGOs. The sep­a­ratist call was started by the JNU, Jadahvpur and Hy­der­abad uni­ver­si­ties picked up the same line – all sup­ported by J&K sep­a­ratists on Pak­istan’s be­hest. Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh went on record to say, “What hap­pened at JNU has been fully sup­ported by Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed. I ap­peal to all po­lit­i­cal par­ties that when­ever such sit­u­a­tions arise where anti-In­dia slo­gans are raised, the en­tire na­tion must speak in one voice.” Un­for­tu­nately, our slow and mal­leable le­gal sys­tem has per­mit­ted what may be termed as com­pet­i­tive rad­i­cal­ism.

Rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion at Large

It was ironic that post the restau­rant mas­sacre on July 2, 2016, that Bangladesh had to ask In­dia to probe Zakir Naik and it is only now that his preach­ings are be­ing probed, as also the du­bi­ous fund­ing of his Peace TV, which it emerges has been broad­cast­ing for years with­out li­cence to do so. Had the terror at­tack in Dhaka not oc­curred, this in­di­vid­ual would have con­tin­ued his ac­tiv­i­ties un­abated. But then there are so many other rad­i­cals like Zakir Naik that preach ha­tred and so­cial un­rest. At the same time oc­cur­rence of this na­ture are quickly politi­cised and so we wit­ness some politi­cians, a jaun­diced cross-sec­tion, so-called ac­tivists of free­dom of ex­pres­sion and the paid me­dia jump­ing in to sup­port Zakir Naik. This un­for­tu­nately has be­come the pa­tent char­ac­ter­is­tic in In­dia where na­tional se­cu­rity is con­signed to the dust­bin.

The J&K state gov­ern­ment has been ig­nor­ing the pe­ri­odic un­furl­ing of Pak­istani and ISIS flags in J&K and the vit­ri­olic from loud­speak­ers of mosques dur­ing Fri­day prayers. All this clearly fa­cil­i­tates LeT’s Is­lamic ji­had which is linked to global ji­had

ISIS and AQIS

Asim Umar, AQIS chief, re­cently gave a call to un­der­take ‘lone wolf ’ at­tacks to tar­get se­nior IPS and IAS of­fi­cers, say­ing In­dian Mus­lims must fol­low the ex­am­ple of youths in Europe and strike against In­dian po­lice and se­nior of­fi­cials. Ac­cord­ing to him, se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials should be held re­spon­si­ble for com­mu­nal vi­o­lence, adding that the state and its de­part­ments were equally re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dents against Mus­lims in In­dia and se­nior of­fi­cials must be tar­geted to cause fi­nan­cial loss to the gov­ern­ment and start

ri­ots in the coun­try. Con­sid­er­ing the de­vel­op­ments in J&K, it would be stupid to not take this se­ri­ously es­pe­cially given that Asim Umar is ISI pro­tégé and Pak­istan’s aim is to desta­bi­lize In­dia and re­tard our eco­nomic progress.

In June this year the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) busted an ISIS mod­ule in Hy­der­abad de­tain­ing 11 per­sons in­clud­ing five ac­cused in ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, seiz­ing weapons, am­mu­ni­tion, urea, acids, hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide, other uniden­ti­fied chem­i­cals, elec­tronic gadgets, other in­crim­i­nat­ing ma­te­rial and 15 lakh. Searches are be­ing con­ducted in Ben­galuru also from where NIA had ar­rested ISIS suspects ear­lier this year. Our youth get­ting under ISIS in­flu­ence, in what­ever num­bers are of con­cern, even as the NIA has busted few mod­ules, there is talk of ISIS pres­ence in West Ben­gal as per NIA, the ISIS af­fil­i­ated Ja­maat-ul-Mu­jahideen, Bangladesh took ad­van­tage of the overly sec­u­lar ap­proach while set­ting up its mod­ules in West Ben­gal. Today the out­fit which al­lies with the ISIS has be­come a headache not just in Bangladesh, but in West Ben­gal as well, and the cur­rent news of some youth from Ker­ala hav­ing joined the ISIS trav­el­ling via Iran. The no­to­ri­ous case of Me­hdi Mas­roor Biswas re­cruit­ing for the ISIS under Twit­ter han­dle @shami­wit­ness is well known but ac­cord­ing to an NIA of­fi­cial there may be some 100 per­sons in­volved in such ac­tiv­ity.

China Fac­tor

China not only has been sup­port­ing Pak­istan’s ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in In­dia, we can hardly ig­nore Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence es­tab­lish­ing the United Lib­er­a­tion Front of West, South, East Asia (ULFWSEA) bring­ing nine ma­jor North East mil­i­tant groups in­clud­ing NSCN (K) and ULFA under com­mon um­brella in Myan­mar dur­ing May 2015. Threat from ULFWSEA should be viewed in its for­ma­tion si­mul­ta­ne­ous to the an­nounce­ment of In­dia’s ‘Act East Pol­icy’, in con­junc­tion China’s claim to en­tire Arunachal Pradesh and the groups sit­ting astride the strate­gic In­di­aMyan­mar-Thai­land High­way. Our me­dia is hol­ler­ing to lift AFSPA from Ma­nipur lit­tle re­al­is­ing how China will ex­ploit the UNLFWSEA to wreak havoc in our North East, China hav­ing made her an­i­mos­ity to­wards In­dia am­ply clear.

Con­clu­sion

Un­less we take a con­certed relook at the terror threats fac­ing us and en­sure high level co­or­di­na­tion and syn­ergy be­tween po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary, in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and other de­part­ments, we are likely to face more vi­o­lence. The need for es­tab­lish­ing cred­i­ble de­ter­rence to proxy wars be­ing waged on us by our ad­ver­saries is vi­tal.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION: Vim­lesh Ku­mar Ya­dav

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