Playing into the hands of the jihadis B Raman

13 08 2008
Source: rediff.com

India is still reeling under the impact of three rounds of serial blasts in quick succession in Jaipur on May 13, 2008, in Bengaluru on July 25 and in Ahmedabad on July 26. The police have been unable to make much headway in the investigations into the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 11, 2006, in which 188 innocent civilians were killed and other terrorist strikes, which have followed one after the other in different parts of the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat have been as clueless in the face of this terrorism as the non-BJP ruled states.

There is a huge jihadi iceberg, which has been moving from state to state spreading death and destruction. We have not been able to locate this iceberg, trace its movement and destroy it. We don’t even know who are behind the so-called Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for many of these terrorist strikes. They have had many failures in the form of unexploded improvised explosive devices — over 30 of them.

The conventional wisdom in investigation is that every failure by the terrorists takes the police one step closer to a successful identification of the terrorists responsible. Over 30 failures — over 20 of them in Surat in Gujarat — and yet we are as clueless as ever. Were these failed IEDs examined by a single team? What were their conclusions? No answer.

The so-called Indian Mujahideen [Images] had sent three e-mail messages claiming responsibility — two before the explosions took place and one after the explosion. It has been reported by The Hindu that one more message purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen has been received by a newspaper warning of terrorist strikes in Godhra in Gujarat where a group of Hindu pilgrims travelling in a railway compartment were burnt to death by a group of Muslim fanatics in February 2002, which provoked acts of retaliation by sections of the Hindus all over the state.

We take pride in the fact that we are a nation of high-class experts in information technology. And yet, we have not been able to make any break-through in our investigation through an examination of these messages.

It is agreed by all analysts that one of the objectives of the perpetrators of these blasts in different states of India outside Jammu and Kashmir [Images] was to create a divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. Fortunately — thanks to the prompt action by the concerned state administrations and to the good sense of the two communities — the terrorists have not succeeded in this objective.

But what the terrorists have failed to achieve so far in other parts of India through their repeated acts of terrorism, the Government of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party have achieved for them in Jammu and Kashmir — the government through its shockingly ham-handed handling of a sensitive issue and the BJP by its cynical exploitation of the communal tensions arising from the government’s mishandling for partisan political purposes with an eye on Hindu votes in the next elections, which are expected before next May.

Ham-handed handling of vital national security issues has become the defining characteristic of the Government of India. We have been seeing it again and again since the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006. Important decisions have been taken — whether relating to Pakistan or China or terrorism — without examining their implications for national security. Many sensitive issues have been handled in a shockingly inept manner — thereby giving the impression of its being a government of novices with very little understanding of such issues.

Nothing illustrated its ineptitude more dramatically than the casual manner in which it watched without intervening when the decision to transfer a plot of land to the ownership of a board for the maintenance of a Hindu shrine (Amarnath) in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley was taken by the local administration headed by the Congress party without a proper examination of its likely impact on Muslim public opinion and its likely exploitation by the Muslim radicals, and then when the leaders of the Muslim community protested against it, it was cancelled without examining its likely impact on Hindu public opinion in the Hindu-majority Jammu division of the state.

The agitation launched by the Hindus of Jammu against the cancellation could have been justified if they had kept it confined to demonstrations and protests. Instead of doing so, they used the agitation for indulging in deplorable acts such as trying to disrupt communications with the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and allegedly preventing the Muslim farmers of the valley from sending their produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale.

This was a dangerous turn in the agitation and was interpreted by many as an economic blockade of the Muslims in order to force them to concede the demands of the Hindus in relation to the transfer of the land. A similar situation was sought to be created in 1990 by the jihadis in the valley by preventing the fruit farmers and artisans from sending their produce to the rest of India for sale. The government of V P Singh, the then prime minister, immediately intervened and had their fruits etc flown from Srinagar [Images] to the rest of India at the government’s expense on special Indian Airlines flight. It also organised Kashmir trade fairs in Delhi [Images] and other parts of India and helped the Kashmiri farmers and artisans to bring their produce out for sale.

One would have expected the Government of India to have promptly acted in a similar manner to break the alleged blockade by the Hindus of Jammu. It did nothing of the sort. It kept fiddling as the situation went from bad to worse. Angered by government inaction, the fruit farmers, instigated by the Muslim radicals and jihadi terrorists, decided to take their produce to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir for sale. No government could have allowed this. The government’s efforts to stop this have led to instances of firing by the security forces on unruly mobs resulting in over 15 deaths.

One would have expected the BJP, which aspires to come to power in New Delhi after the next election, to exercise self-restraint and resist the urge to exploit the situation for partisan political purposes. The expectations have been belied. Its crude attempts to exploit the situation with an eye on the next election have added oil to fire and are threatening to take Jammu and Kashmir back to 1989, when the insurgency started. All the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism gains of recent years in the state face the danger of being wiped out by the government’s inept handling and the BJP’s cynical exploitation of it.

In the situation as it is developing in Jammu and Kashmir, nobody seems to be interested in the national interest and in protecting the lives, property and economic interests of its citizens — whatever their religion. Partisan political interests have taken precedence over national interests.

Public opinion should force the government and the BJP to wake up and prevent a slide back to 1989. Otherwise, the Indian Mujahideen, whoever is behind it, and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence will be having the last laugh.

B Raman

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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.





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.





The unseemly politics of terrorism in India (Commentary)

25 05 2008

The unseemly politics of terrorism in India (Commentary)

May 25th, 2008
Courtesy: thaindian.com

By K. Subrahmanyam
Following the Jaipur terror blasts resulting in over 60 deaths, there is an intense debate in the country on how to deal with terrorism. As is very characteristic of the political culture of this country, this outrage, instead of bringing our political parties together in a united effort to fight terrorism, has led to mutual recrimination. This would give a great deal of comfort and encouragement to the trans-national and intra-national terrorist organisations that target this country. The debate is about the policies towards terrorists advocated by different parties, the laws available to counter them, the jurisdiction of various central and state agencies, adequacies and capabilities of organisations at centre and states etc. All these are very legitimate issues needing to be debated constructively. Instead of using those arguments to score points against political rivals there is an imperative need for political parties to get into a meaningful dialogue among themselves.

Contrast the behaviour of Indian political parties with that of parties in other mature democracies such as the US, Britain and European Union countries. In no other country claiming to be a democracy do we see as much acrimony in facing what is recognised as a national threat. This is the situation in a country that has been engaged in fighting terrorism for well over a quarter of a century.

This calls for a serious introspection among our people, academia, media and politicians on the basic features of our society and political culture that makes this country so vulnerable to terrorism and so difficult to unify in countering it.

Though the UN may not have succeeded in formulating an agreed definition of terrorism, there is commonly accepted definition largely acceptable to the social scientists. Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against people or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies often to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives.

While explosions like those in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Malegaon, Bangalore and Varanasi are recognised as terrorist acts, the killing of people during the election violence (as in West Bengal recently) has been happening routinely and is not considered as terrorism for some inexplicable reasons. Similarly, when civilians are killed in ‘bandhs’ called by political parties, they are also not described as terrorism.

But since terrorism is violence or threatened violence against people and property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies to achieve political, religious or ideological purposes, in fact all such violence should be treated as terrorism. Further, when the presiding officer of a legislature is prevented from discharging his legal duties by members storming into the Well of the house or through various moves such as shouting, that too amounts to violence to intimidate the presiding officer to achieve political objectives.

In other words, the behaviour of legislators amount to terrorism. One does not see such behaviour of parliamentary terrorism, bandh terrorism and electoral terrorism in other mature democracies. It is submitted here that all these categories of terrorism form a continuum and to arrive at the place and role of religious extremist terrorism, one must look at the whole spectrum of terrorism.

When parliamentary terrorism, bandh terrorism and electoral terrorism are tolerated by the majority in the country, that too often in the name of democracy, freedom, right to protest — all of which are permissible only if violence is scrupulously avoided — then some others push the envelope further and resort to political, religious and ideological terrorism.

It must also be clear that violence does not necessarily mean inflicting bodily harm to another person. It also means preventing and intimidating the other person’s legitimate freedom of action or legal functions. Preventing the presiding officer from discharging his legitimate duties by slogan shouting and storming the Well of the house are clear cases of violence. Stopping traffic on roads and compelling shopkeepers to shut down through intimidation are also acts of violence. They are being undertaken for political, ideological or religious purposes. Therefore they are all acts of terrorism.

While in some other parts of the world it has been argued that one man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter, it would appear in India that one man’s terrorism is projected as another person’s legitimate democratic political activity: Often it becomes a matter of double standard that one’s own terrorism is permissible political activity the other person’s is not.

Which decent democracy will need hundreds and thousands of police and paramilitary personnel will be required to guard the elementary right in democracy — voting in the election — to be exercised? We take pride that the country has held successive free and fair elections under such conditions of strict policing to avoid largescale political terrorism being resorted to by our political parties. Our Election Commission is not in a position to assure our people that they will be in a position to hold a one-day poll all over the country without terrorist violence resorted to by political parties. There is yet no sense of shame or remorse among our political parties on this kind of political culture nurtured in this democracy.

In other genuine democratic countries, it is easier for security services to gather intelligence about preparations to resort to terrorism from the common citizen since such activities involving potential violence will be an aberration in the society. In India there is no rapport between the common citizen and the police force as the latter has been politicised and made an instrumentality of the ruling party.

Secondly, given the Indian political culture where local dons turn into ‘netas’ and often enjoy political power and patronage, the common citizen is not willing to take the risk of communicating to the police or security services such aberrant activities.

The politicians themselves have denigrated the reputation of the police and security services with their charges that all cases against political persons are foisted ones at the instigation of the parties in power. We have situations in which political dons are able to run their criminal empires dealing with extortion (which invariably involves terrorism) from jail cells.

While terrorism is a specific threat in other democracies, in India it is part of our present political culture. In these circumstances it is difficult to expect terrorism of the Jaipur, Bombay, Hyderabad type to be overcome before the country is able to cleanse our parliament of the scourge and to a significant extent our electoral process. But there is not even adequate awareness in the country about the nature of terrorism that is afflicting the country.

It is extremely unlikely the present generation of senior political leaders can be expected to be de-conditioned from their mindsets that accept terrorism of certain categories as part of politics. It is now up to the civil society to bring about a basic change in the perception of our politicians.

(K. Subrahmanyam is India’s pre-eminent analyst on strategic and international affairs. He can be contacted at ksubrahmanyam51@gmail.com)





Are we a Soft State ? India

17 05 2008

Congress Spokesperson, Veerapa Moily — ironically — said, ” I agree. Laws must be tougher.”

With 2,300 lives lost in 2007 because of terrorism, many are now asking India to look westwards and borrow from their version of war on terror.

In the UK, the Terrorism Act 2006, enacted after the July 7 2005 London bombings, allows detention for 28 days of any suspect without any charges.

The US has the Patriot Act, passed a month after the 9/11 bombings. Provisions under the Act range from allowing police to conduct raids on private property without notice, to indefinite detention of non citizens without any charge.

In Australia, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2005 enables the investigating authorities to deny the right for a detainee to question as to why he or she is being detained.

India has a long list of cities which have suffered terrorist bomb attacks: Mumbai, Delhi, Malegaon, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Ajmer and now Jaipur.

The two attacks in Hyderabad, the blast on Samjhauta Express train, the blast outside a mosque in Malegaon and the attack in Varanasi have not been conclusively solved. Often, the masterminds behind the blasts are never caught.

Does the recurring terrorist attacks and the authorities inability to prevent them prove that India a safe haven for terrorists?





India: states of insecurity Courtesy : Open democracy

30 11 2007

Ajai Sahni
A fresh bombing wave in Uttar Pradesh and land-confrontation in West Bengal expose the Indian polity’s security failures, says Ajai Sahni.
28 – 11 – 2007

A series of blasts in court compounds across three cities in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh killed fifteen persons and injured over eighty on 23 November 2007. They are the latest link in a chain of comparable terrorist attacks by Islamist groupings that have long received safe haven, sustenance and support from Pakistan and, increasingly, Bangladesh – a chain that includes, over the past three years alone, major terrorist strikes in Delhi, Bangalore, Ayodhya, Mumbai, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Malegaon, Panipat, Ajmer and Ludhiana, and lesser attacks at a number of other locations.

For the complete article click here