Terrorism Versus South Asian Trio

24 02 2009
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

A South Asian task force against terrorism – is this an idea whose time has come?

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Bangladesh seems to think it has. The task force was one of her election promises and, after winning a tidal vote to power, she has opened talks on it with two important visitors, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher.

Few, however, can miss a familiar pattern in Dhaka’s moves in the matter. Election promises, as a rule, sound more enthusiastic than ensuing action on them. If Prime Minister Hasina is sounding far more cautious about the task force than during the poll campaign, official constraints are not the only obvious reason.

Even more obvious is an ironical fact that militates against formation of such a force by the South Asian countries concerned – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (with the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan figuring only as occasional havens of terrorists and Sri Lanka harboring a different species of terrorism). The fact is that the three countries cannot agree more on terrorism, but cannot act less together against the threat.

Theoretically, conditions cannot be more congenial for action on the idea. The people have pronounced their verdicts against terrorism in all three countries in unambiguous terms. A notable result of the Pakistan elections to decide on the post-Musharraf dispensation was the rout of religion-based parties with a record of relations with fundamentalists and extremists, especially in the frontier provinces. In Bangladesh, the landslide victory for Hasina and her Awami League (AL) came with a lethal electoral blow to the Jamat-e-Islami (JeI), an ally of Begam Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and an accomplice of terrorist outfits.

The electorate in India won’t exactly spring a similar surprise with an anti-terrorist vote, though it has rejected the far right Bharatiya Janta Party’s anti-minority take on terrorism in a recent round of state-level elections. In the nearly three months since the terrorist strike in Mumbai, both the ruling Congress Party and the BJP have revealed an unstated bipartisan consensus on according prominence to such threats in their campaigns for the parliamentary elections due by May 2009.

Officially, too, the three countries profess anti-terrorist policies of a similarly high priority. Islamabad has repeatedly been at pains to remind the region and the world that the country’s democratic forces are a direct victim of terrorism, having lost Benazir Bhutto in a bomb blast. Dhaka makes a similar claim, with the grenade attack of 2004 on a Hasina rally among the oft-recalled instances of grisly terrorism. As for India, the Mumbai outrage of November 26, 2008, was only the latest in a long series of terrorist attacks on the nation and its successive governments.

The popular and official consensus among the three countries on terrorism, however, has not made coordinated action against it any easier in practice. On paper, India and Pakistan have in place a joint mechanism against terror, set up during the five-year old “peace process” as a response to past instances of extremist violence. Even a joint investigation of the Mumbai case, however, remains an impracticable idea, despite India’s “dossier” on the subject made available to Islamabad and Pakistan’s detailed response to it.

Domestic opposition would not allow further progress in the direction easily. Online tirades against “traitors” in the Islamabad establishment, who have reported findings of the official investigation about Pakistani links to Mumbai, represent only the tip of an iceberg. Experts on talk shows on Indian television channels compare cooperative investigation of the case with consultations over a house break-in with the burglar himself.

Pakistan’s investigators may not have pleased many in the Hasina dispensation by publicizing their finding about the possible involvement in Mumbai of the Harakat-ul-Jehad-al-Islam (HuJI) of Bangladesh. Dhaka, however, has concealed any displeasure over the finding. It has, actually, admitted the possibility. It is a safe bet, though, that this is going to be no prelude to any joint Pakistan-Bangladesh exercise on the issue.

Domestic political compulsions, again, are sure to derail any effort in this direction. The opposition BNP is not going to be a silent spectator of any investigation of India’s worst-ever terrorist strike involving Bangladesh. Nor is any Dhaka-Islamabad cooperation in the cards, even as the Hasina regime promises to hasten trials in cases of “war crimes,” committed during the Bangladesh war of 1971 by fundamentalist and other forces opposed to a break up of erstwhile Pakistan.

Hasina has, of course, discussed the task force with Mukherjee during his recent visit to Dhaka. Even before details of the proposal could be divulged, Khaleda and her party came out with strong disapproval of any arrangement that would let India use Bangladesh’s territory for fighting its own battles. The fear is that the task force may help India counter separatist movements on the border of Bangladesh in the name of fighting terrorism.

In theory again, all the three countries are anti-terror allies of the US. Richard Holbrooke, special US envoy for India and Pakistan, has stressed this in Islamabad and New Delhi, while Boucher has done so in Dhaka. The formulation, however, is extremely unlikely to help the speedy emergence of the proposed force. Experience has shown the extremely limited extent to which the alliance can be advanced in each of the three countries. Washington has not won the unqualified support of the allies for the main objective of its anti-terror war in the region.

Pakistan cannot possibly acquiesce on US drones’ attacks on Pashtun areas even if described as part of an all-out offensive against al-Qaeda. India cannot agree to any proposal for US peacemaking in Kashmir, peddled as a ploy to help Islamabad focus on the al-Qaeda terrain. And we do not quite know whether the Pentagon is really unhappy about a splinter of al-Qaeda shifting from the Pakistan-Afghan border to Bangladesh and surviving as the HuJI.

All told, the time for the task force may not be yet. The time will come only when the people of the three countries prevail over political forces with the stake in perpetuating regional tensions and conflicts. It will come only when South Asia chooses to counter terrorism for its own sake and not in the cause of a superpower as it is popularly perceived.

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A freelance journalist and a peace activist in India, J. Sri Raman is the author of “Flashpoint” (Common Courage Press, USA). He is a regular contributor to Truthout.





India’s political leadership to blame: Wall Street Journal

28 11 2008

New York: India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has done little to launch an effective fight against terrorism and may “pay a price for its incompetence” in the elections next year, the Wall Street Journal said in its lead editorial on Friday.

“A lack of political leadership is to blame,” The Wall Street Journal said as India’s financial capital continued to battle terrorists who had struck in 10 places in the city Wednesday.

The Mumbai terror attacks, in which at least 125 people have been killed, have been covered extensively in both the print and online edition of this New York-based daily financial newspaper.

“It (the ruling party) may pay a price for its incompetence at the national polls next year,” the newspaper said.

“Yesterday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised that ‘every perpetrator would pay the price’. Yet his Congress Party has done little more than bicker with its coalition allies over the past five years on how best to fight terrorism,” the journal said.

Observing that the attacks are a reminder that India is at the top of the terror target list, the newspaper said this is because India is an easy target.

Not only are its intelligence units understaffed and lack resources, coordination among State police forces is also poor. “The country’s anti-terror legal architecture is also inadequate; there is no preventive detention law, and prosecutions can take years,” it said.

“Wednesday’s attacks should arouse Indians to better confront the terror threat, while reminding all democracies how dangerous that threat still is,” it said.

In another opinion piece published by The Journal, author Sadanand Dhume blamed the Congress for scrapping the anti-terror law POTA. “On taking office in 2004, one of the first acts of the ruling Congress Party was to scrap a federal antiterrorism law that strengthened witness protection and enhanced police powers,” he wrote.

“The Congress Party has stalled similar state-level legislation in Gujarat, which is ruled by the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. And it was a Congress government that kowtowed to fundamentalist pressure and made India the first country to ban Mumbai-born Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ in 1988,” he said.

Dhume, a Washington-based writer and author of “My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist”, said the Indian approach to terrorism has been consistently haphazard and weak-kneed.





Blasts: Sadhvi, 2 others charged with murder

28 10 2008

Source: Rediff

October 24, 2008 18:27 IST
Last Updated: October 24, 2008 19:30 IST
A young sadhvi suspected to have links with a Hindu right wing group and two other men were slapped with murder charges on Friday after they were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts in which the police said the deadly RDX was used.

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur along with Shamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Singh, all hailing from Madhya Pradesh [Images], were produced before a chief judicial magistrate K D Boche in Nashik in Maharashtra which remanded them to police custody till November 3.

Public prosecutor Ajay Miisar said the crime committed by the three was a “serious offence” and they were booked under charges of murder, attempt to murder and voluntarily causing grievous hurt under IPC Sections 302, 307 and 326 respectively.

The sadhvi, who is based in Indore but who regularly visited Surat [Images] to give lectures, was picked up from the diamond city by the Anti Terrorist Squad of the Mumbai police. Shamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Singh were brought from Indore in MP for questioning to Mumbai. The arrests were made in the last one week.

Misar said the motorcycle used in the Malegaon blasts on September 29 in which five persons were killed belonged to the sadhvi. Besides having links with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s student wing the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, she is suspected to be associated with the Indore-based radical Hindu Jagran Manch accused of involvement in the blasts in Malegaon as well as in Modasa in Gujarat in which one person was killed. The right-wing outfit has denied the charge.

Misar claimed that following the Malegaon blasts the sadhvi, who also is believed to be a member of Surat-based Vande Mataram Sanghatan, had several telephone conversations — all lasting “400 minutes” — with the other two.

Misar said forensic reports have shown that RDX was used in the Malegaon blasts.

The state had asked for 14 days custody, but the court gave only 11 days’ custoday, he added.

Pragya’s father Chanderpal Thakur said he does not believe his daughter was involved in the blasts.

“Her nature would not have allowed her to do something like this. It is a different thing that she may have known about it but I don’t believe that she was involved,” he said.





Terrorism and India ::Arun Jaitley

13 10 2008

Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture
Terrorism and India
Arun Jaitley
August 2, 2002

source: hvk

Mrs. Doshi, Mr. Arun Bongirwar, Mr. Bharat Doshi, Mr. Jayant Kawale, ladies and gentlemen.

I am extremely grateful to the Lalit Doshi Memorial Trust for having invited me to deliver the 2002 Lalit Doshi Memorial Lecture. I have been asked to speak on Terrorism and India, a subject on which, in the last one decade a lot has been written and spoken about. But, when the debate goes on and on, one of the impressions which is formed by an average reader or an ordinary citizen, is one of great frustration. Why is it that we are not able to contain this menace? At times some of us even do not aptly realize what the major dimensions and consequences of this issue have been. I recollect on 9/11 when the World Trade Center in New York was attacked and the Pentagon was partly damaged, more than 3000 lives were lost. In his first address to the World, the President of the United States started off by saying that “a War has been launched on us”. It was one major incident, highly deplorable, killing about 3,000 people, probably one of the most severe terrorist attacks in the World anywhere, and the US President rightly commented so. We, in India, have had conventional wars. We had a conventional war in 1947. We had with Pakistan a conventional war in 1965 and in 1971. We had a conventional war with China in 1962, one recently in Kargil. I think the consequences or the effect, the final drubbing, that our neighbour received in the other three wars, perhaps brought about a change in thinking. Our conventional strength far outmatches them and therefore in the last 15 odd years a different form of proxy war has started. It would also be erroneous for us to restrict this proxy war only in the context of Jammu & Kashmir. We have in the last 15 odd years, seen 5 different kinds of terrorism emerging in India. Of course the most significant one, is the one we see on account of cross border insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir. The second, in the Punjab, which we saw through the 1980s and early 1990s, which we were fortunate to have been able to overcome. The third we saw a severe problem, since then partly diluted, in the South from the LTTE. We have had continued insurgency in several parts of North East and the latest to join these categories has been the kind of terrorism which has spread along various parts of central India, the Maoist insurgency from Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, parts of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar right up till the Nepal border. No less severe, the kind of terrorism which we see inspired by various other external agencies.

A number of people have still not realized the consequences, the price and the cost that we have had to pay for this. I remember early this year when there was a debate on a proposed Anti-Terrorist law. I tried to collect several figures, I have updated those figures as to what is the cost involved as far as India is concerned. And compare it to the cost United States had to pay when their President said “a War has been launched on us”. In the four conventional wars that we have fought, I am also including Kargil in it, the total number of people who lost their lives, i.e. the security people, is 9,857. So, little less than 10,000 people lost their lives, in all the conventional wars that India has fought till date. In the last 15 years, the number of civilians who have lost their lives to terrorism is 62,221. A figure almost 6 to 7 times more than those who have lost their lives in conventional wars. The security personnel killed in various terrorist actions is again over 9,000. You can add this to the 62,000 figure and you can find that conventional wars, which now don’t seem to be a recurring occurrence, is very insignificant in comparison to this proxy war which has continued. Number of people rendered homeless is close to 6 lakhs.

The total amount of money spent and this doesn’t include the amount that we spent on our security forces, army and so on, on merely relief and rehabilitation, on the special paramilitary forces that we deploy for anti-insurgency – the figure now crosses Rs.45,000 crores. More than Rs. 45,000 crores is what is deprived to our villages in terms of electricity and power, in terms of health care, in terms of education, in terms of roads. That is the kind of money which has actually been employed in just the anti-insurgency measures. Merely the increase in budget on agencies involved in fighting terrorism, since the early 80s, is 2600 per cent. That is the cost involved as far as terrorism is concerned. What is the kind of methodologies the terrorists employ? I will just read out one figure, I have several others, sharing the kind of seizures which our security agencies have made. What has been already deployed in killing these 62,000 and 9,000 people is something separate. Just the seizures alone of explosives and I am not referring to the details of rifles, pistols, grenades, machine guns, in the seizure and you can exclude the ones (explosive) which are utilised in this, is more than 49,000 kgs. Close to 50,000 kgs and I asked one of the security experts, as to how much is this figure of 49,000 kilograms plus, what is the damage potential that it has, and I was told that the damage potential that this has had is actually to strike out and blast every inch of Indian soil. That is the kind of insurgent effort as far as India is concerned. And if we geographically test it out, there is hardly any region of the country which remains unaffected by this. These are just numerical figures, but these numerical figures in relation to terrorism, in terms of money spent, the national effort wasted is only one aspect of the picture.

There is another great aspect — as to what are the other hidden costs, which are involved as far as terrorism is concerned. Firstly, there is a large political cost. The political cost involved is that terrorism tends to undermine democratic values. It undermines democratic institutions. It assaults each one of them and then a feeling gains ground that in order to deal with terrorists, you need certain strong methods to deal with them and therefore you have to depart from what is the chosen democratic cause itself It has an adverse effect as far as economic growth and development is concerned. How much did one of India’s most affluent States, the Punjab, suffer on account of terrorism in 10 years?

It then leads to the strong anti-terrorist methods which are employed as part of counter terrorism, the end result is what is normally a phrase used in the areas affected by terrorism, a sense of alienation. Because a sense of alienation builds in when strong counter terrorism methods are used; because innocent citizens at times may also become victims of counter terrorist methods. We hear this phrase repeatedly in the context of Kashmir. Why don’t you take steps in order to prevent alienation of population. The security forces don’t go there to alienate the people there, they go there in fact to protect the people from the terrorists. When the security forces act, the kind of propaganda which builds up, results in alienation of people. I was recently going through some very interesting figures when we discussed this alienation. For different years, I tried to pick up and this is the non-security expenditure from the planned and the non-planned expenditure by Government of India, which is an assistance given to various states. What is the per capita expenditure that we undertake on every citizen of India in each state. What is the all India average when it comes to the rest of the country and what is the comparative amount that we spend on citizens living in Jammu & Kashmir. And I found that in the last 10 years, when I ran through the figures, each year the difference was ranging between 1 to 7 or 1 to 10. So in terms of expenditure you are spending on an average citizen of Jammu & Kashmir 7 to 10 times more in terms of central assistance than you are spending on an average citizen of rest of the country. And despite that a sense of alienation can get built-in, because when terrorists strike them, people don’t like investing, where Jehadis are moving with guns, even traditional income avenues suffer; sense of security suffers and counter terrorism measures at times end up in alienating people. And then this defies the real logic. I looked at the second figure, in 1999-2000 the national figure of population living below poverty line is 26%. In the last three years it may have come down a little bit but that is the last figure which is available.

An affluent State like Punjab compared to this national figure of 26% living below poverty line (BPL), was close to 6.5 per cent. On the strength of this entire central assistance which is given, I was curious to know what was the BPL figure, the below poverty line figure in Jammu & Kashmir. It is lesser than Punjab- at3.8%! So, you can have 7 to 10 times more grant, you can have a BPL figure of 3.8% and still a message can go nationally and internationally that there is a growing sense of alienation, because of the entire environment created by the terrorists.

They have undermined democratic values. They have had an adverse impact on the growth rates in the State, they lead to an increased sense of alienation. They assault social cohesion of the society. You have had migration of population. You had dissatisfaction between different groups of population. One community, the Pandits, had to move out completely. The valley has discontentment for its own reason. If you go to the Ladakh and Jammu region, there is discontentment that we don’t get our share of the entire assistance and development and the root cause of this discontentment that builds up, is the kind of impact that terrorism leaves on a civil society. There is also on other areas a serious adverse effect, that it can have on the defence preparedness of the country. Because, if a large part of the national resource is to go into various other anti-insurgency measures and the costs involved therein, then you tend to neglect areas where you should conventionally have been spending These are several areas with which different agencies and instruments of the government have been fully seized of. In fact now the realization that the state is having repeatedly, that the conventional wars are not the real threat. It is the on-going proxy war by way of terrorism, which can have a far more dangerous impact on a society and far more difficult to fight with.

I will just quote one or two paragraphs for instance from the deliberations of the group of ministers on national security. This is May 2001 – “while instances of inter-State wars have significantly declined and are expected to continue to do so, there is an increase in cross border interference by one State in the internal environment of another, arising out of territorial, religious, cultural, ethnic factors and the easy availability of sophisticated weaponry in the international market. This trend is likely to continue at least in short and medium terms”. The National Security Advisory Board observes – “In the foreseeable future, international terrorism and induced domestic terrorism will pose a greater danger to our national security than a conventional war. National response to terrorism in its varied form is presently inadequate, of an ad-hoc character and generally ineffective”. The Kargil review committee almost said the same thing. “Pakistan has ruthlessly employed terrorism in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and the North East. In the present international security environment proxy war and terrorism have become preferred means of hurting a neighbour’s social, political and economical well-being”.

Now this is the real challenge, and for this real challenge we have various forces, substantially outside the country some of them even aided by small groups within the country and I for one believe we should never be misled by the kind of ostensible stand that people take when put under various international pressures so that they get to escape out of a given situation -convenient stands of the kind which our neighbour has taken. May I just highlight this by quoting what the real intention, and here I am just going to quote 5-7 people as to what their real intention as far as employing terrorism as an instrument of state policy by our neighbour is concerned or by various groups, which at least our neighbour now wants us to believe and wants the world to believe, are functioning without its patronage or authority. General Pervez Musharraf, I am reading one of his year 2000 statements — “Jehad is not Terrorism”. This is the philosophy he tried to espouse. Mujahideen organizations are not terrorist organizations. Jehad has been revived during the Afghan war and now it is Jehad in Kashmir, Muslims from different parts of the world were coming to support their oppressed brothers and sisters”. It is a different matter that after 9/11 he decided to have a different policy, having publicly taken a stance that what was happening in Afghanistan was actually Jehad. He decided to create a distinction between what he wanted to do on his western border as against what he wanted to do on his eastern border. On the western border he joined the global war against terrorism. The forces which had organized terrorism in Afghanistan had actually been sponsored and promoted by the Afghan bureau of the ISI. He distanced himself when put under international pressure but for some reasonable period of time had a completely contrary stand when it came to the western borders. “Fighting Jehad against India is a duty of the entire Muslim world. Kashmir cannot be resolved by a means other than Jehad” – This is Osama Bin Laden on August 27th. Masoor Azhar one of the terrorists who got released after the hijack- “Our mission is just not Srinagar, we have to capture New Delhi”. And the tactics which are deployed — when I mentioned the deployment of tactics like attacking social cohesion in Indian society — you have the head of the Deendar-e-Anjuman chief — this is the organization which was banned after several churches in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were attacked — “The Mujahideen will fight, you must cause loss to the government property and divert its attention when I enter India through Kashmir with 8 lakh people, money should be looted for financing the activities”. And the next sentence is very significant in the context of what this organisation Deendar-e-Anjuman had done. “Attack Christians so that international pressure will be built on government and on India”.

This is really the magnitude of the threat that we face today. How do we try and answer this threat? The threat, this can really surface by various methodologies which are reached. There is a lot of ideological inspiration which goes in, there is a lot of training which goes in. The kind of training, which almost inspires you and motivates you to die yourself In fact, the suicide squads which have created an impact in several parts of the world, United States, India being some of their prime targets, are organized by people who are actually not scared to die and therefore, with their ability to hit out at a target which is not prepared for such an assault, the danger level seems to be very high.

What then is the real answer to this? The answers are several. For one, you need a very powerful, not only domestic but with international cooperation a very strong link, a grid, virtually a national and international grid, as far as the intelligence systems on these people are concerned. You need to have knowledge of their activities in advance because terrorists always choose the time and place of their assault. They never give you a warning in advance and therefore targets are taken by surprise. You need a genuine and a powerful international cooperation as far as terrorists are concerned. You need a powerful security regime as far as terrorists are concerned and finally you need a very strong and powerful legal regime. How to deal with them once you are able to get hold of them. As far as the international regime is concerned, over the last few years it has slowly been building up. After 9/11 hopes have really been raised that the international regime against terrorism is actually going to be very powerful and strong. In fact, I do recollect, this is what the Home Minister had mentioned yesterday in Parliament, that there was one impression of the World during the cold war regime. There were identified groups, identified poles in the World with which smaller nations had their own friendships and therefore their stands were well known in advance. But once the World moved towards more being a uni-polar world, coupled with the new terrorist threat, the World has started actually having a newer methodology of looking at all this. And particularly in this context, when we meet our friends from the United States of America, one of the surprises which we always express to them, or the concerns which we express to them, that today the regime for having two different standards on dealing with terrorist organizations or on dealing with democracies world over is entirely different. And, therefore, whenever an effort is made to give at least some more time, if not benefit of the doubt, to those nations which are responsible for sponsoring terrorism in this region and trying to destabilize the region it becomes quite un-understandable, particularly after 9/11. Our war or battle against terrorism did not begin on 9/11. We been fighting our lone war for almost 10 to l5 years prior to that. 9/11 only enabled the World to wake up to the reality of the consequences of terrorism. And the World having woken up to that reality when 3,000 people unfortunately lost their lives in New York, labeled it as a war which is launched on the United States of America; then with more than 70,000 people having suffered the same fate, terrorism on our soil cannot be taken to be any ordinary war and therefore, the world leaders of the global alliance need not at this stage merely advise restraint. They equally have a responsibility to be on the forefront of fighting this terrorism because their war against terrorism is not selective, it is global.

There are several positives, if I may mention. The several positives which have taken place in the last few years, particularly through the decade of the 90s when this whole war started. In Punjab we were able to overcome. In one or two regions of North-East, we been able to overcome. In fact, one of the States there is now getting a peace bonus. As far as Kashmir is concerned, there seems to be a significant improvement as far as the intelligence systems are concerned. The international opinion on Kashmir also has undergone a sea change in the last decade or so. On various international forums Pakistan had successfully attempted to internationalize the issue of Kashmir and take it beyond the realm of a bilateral discussion or a bilateral solution. Today, particularly in the post Kargil era, more so on the post 9/11 era, events after 13th December attack on Parliament, two major attacks on Jammu- have also demonstrated that today the World focus in the context of Kashmir has more been on internationalization of cross border terrorism. India’s efforts to internationalize Pakistan as a sponsorer of that terrorism seem to have succeeded more than Pakistan’s attempts to internationalize the Kashmir issue which it traditionally has been trying for over the last 50 years. There is also a considerable amount of pressure on Pakistan if not in actuality at least ostensibly to try and alter its position. It has on several occasions, its new head of state, has been mentioning how the country is trying to keep terrorist organizations at bay, trying to suppress some of them or ban some of them; also indicating that at times they themselves are victims of these organizations. But these statements seem to be highly doubtful, particularly in the context of every attack in India seems to have originated from Pakistan; the attackers seem to be people belonging to that state, in fact several intercepts, messages and other hard evidence seems to be indicating that, it’s that country which is really acting as a base for giving refuge to all these organizations.

One aspect is of at least ostensibly changing your position. But words are no substitute for action. What really is required to be done is that the various formats of infrastructure for terrorism which exists requires to be dismantled and dismantling that infrastructure for terrorism, is perhaps the most important responsibility as far as Pakistan is concerned. There is infrastructure availability in terms of centrality of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism, sabotage and subversion, there is infrastructure in terms of terrorist training camps; there is infrastructure in terms of providing the entire logistical support; there is infrastructure in providing hardware, there is infrastructure in providing money, there is infrastructure in even providing at times regulars from the security forces for this activity. And then pretending ignorance of these people originating from Pakistan. The real test of Pakistan being not sponsoring terrorism or not being a supporter of cross border terrorism or not allowing infiltration to continue, has to be as to how quickly it can really dismantle this entire infrastructure for sponsoring terrorism which exists in that State. There are other positives also, in fact the security forces, the army, the other paramilitary forces, in the last several months or years, if I would say so, are increasingly getting an upper hand against the terrorists. We normally find figures, if we read between the lines, how many security people lose their lives for every one terrorist that they kill. In days of high terrorist activity the figure was almost one against one. Today there is a very wide difference. Today the security forces have been able to actually overreach a large number of them except in cases where they are able to take targets by surprise and that is the real challenge which we face — as to how do we protect the soft targets whenever these soft targets are made targets of terrorist attack itself. One of the important areas as far as terrorism is concerned is also having a strong legal regime in dealing with terrorism. And strong legal regimes World over have provided enough ground to several organizations to actually start complaining that the legal regime is bit too tight. Britain over the last two years has formulated such a regime, the United States has its laws, which are far tougher than ours and there are several components of this legal regime which are required. The first being, you must have a clear cut definition of what is terrorism and a very harsh punishment for terrorism. You make funding terrorism an offense.

Funds are to be confiscated. In fact, when funds used to be passed on to organizations earlier it could well have been offences under much lighter laws such as FERA or now FEMA. But once it becomes funding of terrorism and gets identified as a terrorist act itself, this becomes a major deterrent action as far as terrorism is concerned. And that is why one of the major demands that countries, which are victims of terrorism, made to several other nations from where the funding comes was to block sources of funding. The next ingredient of a strong anti-terrorist legal regime has to be that profits of terrorism which then provide an infrastructure to terrorism itself, should be confiscated. It is a rule of law in any civilized society that no person can be allowed to retain to himself profits of crime. In fact 30 years ago we legislated a law where profits of smuggling under SAFEMA (Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators [forfeiture of property] Act) are to be confiscated. No man can enrich his pockets by profits of crime. Gun running, drugs, narcotics, arms, if you deal in these areas and earn profits, no civilized society can allow you to enrich yourself. And, therefore, one important component of anti-terrorist legal regime has to be that whatever is earned through loot or blackmail, whatever properties it is converted into, whatever bank accounts or liquid cash which is converted into, the same doesn’t belong to the person who converts and the same is liable to be confiscated. Banning terrorist organizations and making membership or activity of terrorist organization subsequent to the ban to be an offense — the ban has several consequences.

Why were we expecting the United States to ban Hizbul Mujahideen or Lashkar-e-Toiba, why were they the first to ban Al-Qaida.

When we ban organizations in one part of the World consequences flow out of that. And therefore one civilized nation expects another as part of the global alliance to start banning terrorist organizations. Two of the most important instruments in law which have been used against terrorists and hardened criminals world over have been the use of modem technology. Terrorists no longer operate in the forests. They are no longer desperados who live away from mankind. They may be living in your buildings, apartments next to your house. And one of the methodologies by which police has been able to track down hardened criminals is the use of modem technology, i.e. intercepts. In the good old regime till the 1970s and the 80s when anybody thought of giving police the power to intercept communications, a liberal society always stood up and said “well big brother, watching this is not conducive to a liberal society”. What does an investigator do, what does an anti-insurgent police force do, particularly when terrorists never announce their targets of attack. It is a part of their usual intelligence gathering that you must be informed in advance as to how and what their next target and next planned activities are going to be. In fact in most of the cases where the Bombay Police under the Maharashtra law has been able to achieve some success is through the intercepts which are made. And intercepts World over — the British Law now allows it, the American Law allows it — intercepts have been — in fact the Maharashtra Law was the first Indian Law which allowed intercepts to a police — have become important instruments, in not only intelligence gathering but also in securing conviction. Ordinary denials will have to be proved in a normal court of law, because the policeman is at odds to prove various facts and the accused is entitled to benefit of doubt and many others. But when faced with his own voice not many are able to deny, what their real intent was. Therefore, lawful intercepts by the police, but these lawful intercepts should not be misused. Therefore, there has to be a safeguard regime in terms of having who you intercept, being approved in a post-decisional hearing by a specialized review committee.

There are also special rules of evidence, special rules of trials which are required. The United States has gone to the extent of having secret military tribunals and one of the reasons they have secret tribunals is that there are large number of ordinary citizens who in open trials are not prepared to come and depose against these hardened criminals. The kind of protection to be given to the witnesses, the more difficult bail provisions — these are all important legal instruments of a powerful regime which is an anti-terrorist regime. We must in this context analyze the issue with a little greater depth than some of the surface reactions as to the changes which we make to the law. I will give three examples, two recent and one a well known illustration. The Parliament was attacked on the 13th of December. The five gentlemen of the terrorists who attacked the Parliament were killed on the spot. In every suicide action to get the Fidaheen alive is very difficult. They either kill the security people and escape or get killed themselves. And therefore to find out any better evidence from them is normally very difficult. All five died on the spot. How does an investigator move under the normal law. Under the normal law the investigator has to find out who were the people behind these five. Who were the people who gave them the entire logistical support who were part of conspiracy to blast India’s Parliament. The five are dead. One clue leads you to the first person and it leads you to second person, third person and then somebody breaks down and says well we were all brought into the picture and money was given to us by some gentlemen hiding in the hills at Pahalgam called Gazi Baba and the other man says he provided us with money which came from across the border, we went several times across the border and had training. They were members of a banned organization. The most important pieces of evidence are not going to be ordinary eye witnesses who were present in the Parliament somebody like me. Because, eye evidence can only be against those five who are no more alive. But to get behind who is behind these five you have to crack up one of those five. And that leads from one to another. And therefore the traditional rule of confessional statements not being admissible is one procedural aspect which had to be changed. It has been changed in anti-terrorist laws in various parts of the world. But for that component how are you able to then establish the whole chain. A recent major case came in, when one of the leaders of a separatist organization in Kashmir was arrested for having received huge funding. How does the investigators get the first clue about funding. The clue was intercepts. Intercepts between international funding groups — and whenever you go to foreign countries and ask for repatriation or extradition of those people who have been funding these, you require evidence.

In the modern technology but for the intercepts being permissible, but for confessional statements with safeguard being made admissible, to go behind these conspiracies is going to be very difficult. In fact the most significant case — and that was a case when TADA was still in force. The campaign against TADA had started because of its misuse after the Bombay blast cases. But when the late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991, TADA was still in force. The people who killed Mr. Rajiv Gandhi died on the spot. When the special investigating team went behind and started investigating all those who were a part of the conspiracy all that they could find in terms of evidence besides little circumstantial evidence, who gave the money, who gave the weapons, who gave the inspirations, who provided them shelter, who provided them with vehicles, were their own statements. And finally when the Court was dealing with the case, I re-read and re-read the judgment of the Supreme Court in the assassination case of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. TADA had a similar provision, a much tougher provision for recording confessional statement and admitting them. The difference between TADA and POTA was that in TADA it could be recorded before a senior police officer and that was enough, in POTA it is to be recorded before a police officer and within 24 hours ratified before a Judge. So there is a safeguard. You have to first do it here and then go before a Judge. You take those 4 or 5 statements which these people had made against themselves out. There was no other legally admissible evidence. So we would actually have had a situation where a former Prime Minister gets assassinated before a crowd of several thousand people, the assailants die on spot and the entire conspirators, but for the fact that a special rule of evidence did exist, there was no other way where evidence against them would have been forthcoming. Therefore, one of the very important aspects of a fight against terrorism has to be the establishment of a strong anti-terrorist legal regime. When you establish strong regimes, as I said in the very beginning, whether it is a security regime, or it is a legal regime even if you try and put in the best kind of safeguards, human rights groups world over complain that the possibility of some form of aberrations or violations of human rights may take place.

And therefore even when this regime is being implemented, a democratic society can never lose sight of the fact that to fight terrorism you don’t have to get into an exercise where police has the power to actually go and haul UP the innocent and there being no remedy as far as law is concerned. To that extent the concern has to be appreciated. There are a large number of human right groups, citizen groups, political groups, state human rights mechanisms which therefore in this situation have a very important role to play. As responsible organizations they have to watch out that no innocent really should become a victim of a tough regime but that is as far as human rights groups genuinely concerned with human rights are concerned. There is a second category of human rights groups also which has emerged. And the second category of humans rights groups, I regret to say, have been the over-ground face of the underground — every underground insurgent movement carries with it an over ground human rights organization. These are to be seen in contradistinction with some of those, the statutory ones and the other genuine ones and one of the objects of these organizations is to actually continuously carry on a campaign which indirectly goes to the benefit of terrorists. So every time the Peoples War Group in Andhra Pradesh attacks an industrial establishment you will find the same old faces coming up and saying it is the repressive machinery of the state we are fighting. They are always silent about what the Peoples War Group has done to the people of Andhra Pradesh or to the economy of the State or the industrial establishment or the individuals it is trying to target. You will find similar campaigns carried on in relation to several other areas where terrorist attacks take place. And, therefore, as a matured democracy, a responsible society, we must be very careful of this second category of human rights organizations which now experience has taught us have actually become an over-ground supporter of what is otherwise a banned or an insurgent or a terrorist activity itself. Well these are all challenges which a matured society has to face.

Terrorism’s capacity to destroy life, to destroy economy, to destroy sovereignty of countries, is tremendous. Its ability to devalue democratic tradition is tremendous. Foreign insurgencies also gain support when they are given refuge from segments of the domestic society and therefore the maturity of the Indian society is always on trial when the country is trying to fight these agencies. It is a war which India cannot afford to lose, it is a war which has to be fought through the mechanism of intelligence, with the mechanism of removing some of the social discontent which in some areas does cause terrorism. These are several aspects to it but as I said today, it is perhaps one of the greatest challenges as far as Indian society is concerned. Thank you very much for having invited me to deliver this address. I must mention that I did not have the privilege of personally knowing the Late Mr. Lalit Doshi but from what I read about him and from the kind of response his friends and admirers all seem to have given to him, some of whom are present today, I can only say in civil service it is very difficult to leave after leaving strong footprints behind but he seems to be one of those who certainly has left them behind.

Thank you very much.

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Biography of Mr. Arun Jaitley
Senior Advocate and Member of Parliament

Mr. Arun Jaitley was born on 28” December, 1952. He did his schooling from St. Xavier School, New Delhi (1969-70). He graduated in Commerce from Sri Ram College of Commerce, New Delhi (1973). He passed his Law from the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi in 1977. During his career as a student he was the recipient of several distinctions for his outstanding performance both in academics and extra curricular activities. He was President of Students Union of Delhi University (1974). During Internal Emergency (1975-77) when civil liberties were suspended, he was under preventive detention for a period of 19 months. He was a prominent leader of a movement against corruption launched in the year 1973 by Late Shri Jai Prakash Narayan. He was the Convenor of the National Committee for Students and Youth Organisation appointed by Late Shri Jai Prakash Narayan.

He has been practising law before the Supreme Court and several High Courts in the country since 1977. He was designated Senior Advocate, in 1990. He was the Additional Solicitor General of India for the Government of India in the year 1990. He has authored several write-ups on legal and current affairs. He authored Laws relating to Corruption and Crime in India before the Indo-British Legal Forum. He was a delegate on behalf of the Government of India to the United Nations General Assembly session in June, 1998 where the Declaration on laws relating to Drugs and Money Laundering was approved. He has delivered lectures on many important subjects including IT Convergence, the Broadcasting Laws of India, Disinvestment and on the Review of the Functioning of the Indian Constitution. He has also been connected with the educational institutions. He was the Chairperson of the Governing Body of Kamla Nehru College, Delhi (1993-1998). He is also President of DDCA the body which administers cricket in Delhi.

Mr. Jaitley joined the Union Ministry headed by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 13 October, 1999 as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Information and Broadcasting. He was elevated to Cabinet Rank on 7 November, 2000 with Law, Justice & Company Affairs under his charge and also given the charge of the Ministry of Shipping. Mr. Jaitley was holding the portfolio of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting till 30 September, 2000 before moving to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs. He was the first Minister of the newly created Department of Disinvestment. Mr. Jaitley relinquished this charge when he was given additional charge of Law, Justice and Company Affairs.

Mr. Jaitley has been a Member of the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party since 1991. Elected as Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from Gujarat and represents Kheda constituency.

He is married with two children.





Naxals Attack Spiritual guru:: Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, 4 others killed in grenade attack in Orissa

24 08 2008

Source: Odissatoday.com
Bhubaneswar ( Orissa) :
In a sensational incident Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his close aids have been killed in a grenade attack by the suspected Maoists at around 9 PM at Jalaspotta Ashram, in Tumudi Bandh area in the tribal dominated district of Kandhamal in Southern Orissa on Saturday night.

According to the sources the suspected Maoist have hurled grenade on the Ashram resulting killing of five persons including Ashram chief, Swami Laxmananand Saraswati.

The other victims include two inmates of the ashram and all the victims have dead at the spot.

RSS has decided to block all NH running through the Orissa as mark of protest over the killing on Saturday night, sources said.

Meanwhile RDC Southern range Satyabrta Sahu, DIG Southern range, RP Kothe have rushed to the spot as the tension flare up in the district following this incident.

Additional security forces 12 CRPF platoon have also been moved to the spot to prevent any unpleasant incident in the district.

According to the sources in the police administration, the Orissa DG Gopal Nanda directly monitoring the whole situation.

Meanwhile in yet another significant development highly placed sources in the VHP says that VHP and other saffon outfits have called a emergency meeting at undisclosed place to decide future action over this issue.

VHP and other saffron partied have called a dawn to dush Bandh on Monday protesting the brutal killing of Swami Laxamananda Saraswati.

It may be noted here that the tribal dominated Southern district of Orissa has been under serious tension since Hindu and Christians clashed each other on December 25, 2007 in Phulbani district.

Since then, Central Para Military Forces have been camping at Kandhamal. Orissa Government has constituted a judicial commission under Justice Basudev Panigrahi to probe the December communal clash.

In protest against the attack on saint and illegal beef trading, members of RSS, Viswa Hindu Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party led by Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati blocked the roads and demanding action against the accused.

Swami demanded a high level probe into illegal beef trading in Kandhamal. VHP has also called Kandhamal bandh on Wednesday over this issue.





Agitation in Jammu and Kashmir: A study in contrast

21 08 2008

Source: TOI
JAMMU: The peaceful demonstrations in this otherwise bustling city, in stark contrast to the high decibel protests in Srinagar, said it all.

If the idea was to play on the contrast with Srinagar in communicating that they have been differentiated against, Jammu’s agitationists succeeded in sending across the message quite clearly. In prominence are community langars in every locality where daily wagers and the poor are being fed by households that can cook their meals even as the more than month-long bandh continues. The picture is one of bonhomie among citizens, irrespective of denomination.

And clearly, any attempt to suggest that a single political party has taken over the movement that the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti has sustained for 53 days is clearly a non-starter. There is a rare unity to be seen in Jammu for a cause that seems to have built up over years of what the people here see as institutionalised neglect.

Also, there is a careful attempt to ensure that it does not take a communal turn. This was clear when a local BJP leader confided that a proposal by Baba Ramdev to join the movement by marching up to the Amarnath shrine with a contingent of sadhus had to be stalled, so that it did not create communal trouble and spoil the “legitimate demand” to allow the shrine board to use the adjacent land for pilgrims’ facilities.

Even BJP, which has taken up the Amarnath issue to build up a national level campaign against the ruling Congress for “offending the sentiments of Hindu pilgrims”, has had to redraw plans to participate in a rally organised by the Sangharsh Samiti.

In fact, BJP has called it “communication gap” between the two organisations. Going on the backfoot after being snubbed by Sangharsh Samiti chief Leela Karan Sharma, who denied there were any plans for a rally, leave aside any invitation to BJP leaders L K Advani and Rajnath Singh to participate, the party’s state president Ashok Khajuria told TOI , “The Sangharsh Samiti is the last word on this movement and BJP is only one among its 42 member units and hence will follow what the Samiti says.”

Interestingly, a good number of field level National Conference and PDP workers in Jammu have joined the Samiti. Surinder Singh Shinghari of NC, a corporator from the city’s Bakshinagar area, has resigned from his party and post and joined the movement. He is not the only one.

It is not easy for a city that thrives essentially on trading and business activities to sustain complete closure of shops and business establishments for 53 days without having any idea as to how much longer they will have to take it. Leela Karan Sharma said, “We are ready to talk as equals to all – the Centre, Kashmiri leaders – but only if our core issue of allowing the High Court order on the land is reverted back to.”





How fake currency and terror are related

13 08 2008

Source: Rediff
August 13, 2008 15:01 IST

Intelligence Bureau and investigating agencies have established that fake currency funds terror in India. IB officials say there is a whopping Rs 17,000 crore worth of fake currency in circulation in India. While it funds terror organisations, it also helps intensify economic terrorism in the country.

Sameer, one of the accused in the Hyderabad twin blasts, said in his confession and recent narco analysis conducted in Bengaluru [Images] that the notes are printed in Pakistan and routed into India through Bangladesh. He said that it is distributed to the rest of the country from Uttar Pradesh [Images].

Sameer said he was mainly responsible for bringing in people from the across the border to carry out terror attacks in India. Along with the men, large consignments of fake currency too were transported, he added.

What has foxed investigating agencies is that the serial numbers on the seized fake notes were similar those on genuine notes. Moreover the paper and printing quality of the notes have improved in the past few years making it very difficult to spot the fakes.

Majid Bilal, brother of alleged Hyderabad blasts mastermind Shahid Bilal, said during his narco analysis test that it is was compulsory for the men coming in from across the border to carry fake currency with them. He said that the notes were exchanged with agents within India (mostly in Rajasthan, UP and Andhra Pradesh) at a 2:1 ratio. He also said that Rs 5 crore had been spent on the Hyderabad twin blasts and added that all the money came from distribution of fake currency.

An investigating officer probing the Bengaluru blasts says that they are not ruling out the possibility of fake currency being used to fund the blasts. There have been several instances of fake currency being seized in the city. Statistics indicate nearly Rs 1.5 lakh in fake currency is seized every month by the police and handed over to the Reserve Bank of India [Get Quote], so that the notes can be destroyed.