The Fifth Columnists
Fig 1 depicts these three forces and some of their respective programs. The following three chapters will address these three forces—Christianity, Maoism and Islam.
Maoist Red Corridor Through India
‘A few hundred “Christian-Maoist” guerillas will change the power-equation in Orissa.’—Vishal Mangalwadi.
In India’s Nagaland state, there is an insurgency driven by the idea of a Maoist Christian nation-state. The Naga separatist guerillas declared in their manifesto:
The sovereign existence of our country, the salvation of our people in socialism with their spiritual salvation in Christ, are unquestionable. … We stand for socialism. … We stand for faith in God and the salvation of mankind in Jesus, the Christ, alone, that is, ‘Nagaland for Christ’. … We rule out the illusion of saving Nagaland through peaceful means. It is arms and arms alone that will save our nation.
Fig 2 depicts how the global and local forces collaborate.
In Chapters Six to Nine, we saw how colonial evangelists had first created a separate Dravidian identity, history, and sense of victimhood, with the other Indians being depicted as the villainous oppressors. Later on, this was turned into a Christian-Dravidian identity managed by foreign nexuses. In a similar manner, British colonialists carefully groomed the Naga identity separately from the rest of India, and subsequently the missionaries nurtured this identity within a Biblical framework.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has actively championed the Nagaland separatism cause in international forums. Today, Naga society is largely controlled by the Baptist Church, which is headquartered in the US. The kind of control that Baptists have in Nagaland can only be compared to the power the Catholic Church wielded in the medieval dark ages of Europe. In 1992, the Indian government appointed a Christian theologian, M.M. Thomas, as the governor of Nagaland for conducting peace talks with the separatists. M.M. Thomas commented that the Naga churches were pursuing ‘corruption, violence and mutual revenge’.” The government discovered that the church’s influence in the state was all-pervasive and that its only option was to negotiate through the church-appointed Peace Council. Today, Naga insurgents have extended their operation into Arunachal Pradesh, a strategically important Indian state on which China is also laying claims.
Nagaland Model in Nepal and India’s Red Corridor
Fig 3 shows how Maoists and Christian evangelists collaborate in Nepal and India for their shared agenda to undermine traditional cultures that come in their way.
The Maoist insurgency that had been dormant on the Indian mainland for a few decades has suddenly revived vigorously. Until recently, Maoists were confined to very few pockets in the jungles. In 2004, the two major Maoist groups, the Maoists’ Communist Centre (in Bihar) and the People’s War Group (in South India) joined hands to form the pan-Indian CPI (Maoist). This led to exploding landmines, conducting jailbreaks, assassinating politicians in and out of power, and resorting to other extreme forms of lawlessness and violence.
This new activity signaled the emergence of what is known as the Red Corridor—a huge belt of Maoist militancy which stretches all the way from the Nepal border, through India’s heartland, to the Indian Ocean in the South. The strength of the insurgency is far beyond mere sporadic terror attacks; they have established territorial control in select pockets where they administer an underground parallel rule. India Today reported in 2007:
[Maoists] adopt practices like torture, mutilation and killings after trials in kangaroo courts. They are a regular force with squads patterned on, army platoons. The 15,000 Maoists in India, with about 10,000 firearms, pose a big internal security challenge. They are active and wield influence in 170 of the 602 districts spread over 16 of the 33 states. … With the radicals developing military capabilities like mobile guerrilla warfare, potential investment destinations—particularly for the mineral extraction industry—situated in Maoist-dominated areas in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, may become unviable.
Since then, the numbers and intensity of violent incidents have increased dramatically.
It is not a coincidence that the major states in the Red Corridor—Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand—are also the major centers for aggressive Christian evangelism. Maoists and Christian evangelists collaborate for the destruction of the tribal spiritual traditions and for breaking up their traditional organic links with mainstream Indian culture. The evangelist leader Mangalwadi reports on a Christian website:
Besides launching a Jihad against Animism and Hinduism, the Maoists are also active in supporting evangelists. At times, Maoists escort evangelists into remote villages where police officers are afraid to go. They summon everyone to hear the Gospel. The evangelists may show a film such as the ‘Jesus Film’. Half-way through the film the Maoists would stop the film and give a lecture on Maoism. Then they would resume the film and ask an evangelist to give Alter Call. Following a fellowship meal the evangelists would be escorted back to their base! I have heard at least one credible report that Christians and some Maoists spent two days together fasting and praying. Christian leaders have not reported these stories to their supporters because (a) many of them can’t make sense of what they are hearing, and (b) they are also embarrassed by the fact that their mission is supported by ‘terrorists’.
Christian Comrades in Orissa
Orissa is an important part of the Red Corridor because it is endowed with vast mineral deposits like coal, iron-ore, manganese-ore, bauxite, chromite, etc. According to All India Mineral Resources Estimates, the mineral deposits of Orissa in chromite, nickel, cobalt, bauxite, iron-ore were about 98.4%, 95.1%, 77.5%, 52.7% and 33.4% respectively of the total deposits of India.
This state provides an example of how the Maoist-Evangelical network can become a lethal cocktail for triggering violent conflicts. Psychological as well as economic pressures are exerted by aggressive evangelism on economically impoverished communities in the remote districts, and this can explode into communal riots. Even a decade ago, India Today had reported this sequence of violence:
The missionaries, no doubt, are on an overdrive, apparently following the call made at the state pastors’ seminar in Cuttack in November 1996 to ‘win Orissa for Christ by AD 2000’. Churches of all shapes and sizes have sprung up in most areas of the state in recent years. The state already boasts of ninety Christian missions and over eight-thousand churches. … With local Christians referring to Krishnapur as Krishtopur (after Christ) and Hindus maintaining an all-night vigil in Bhubaneswar in January to resist a possible conversion, fanatics are holding centre-stage. … As missionaries seek to win over Orissa for Christ, Hindu organisations have begun to strike roots in many places.
As a reaction to the evangelical onslaught, indigenous communities started their own defensive measures. They were often assisted by Hindu nationalists, who saw this as an opportunity to spread their political message to the victims of evangelism. This led to clashes between Hindus and Christians, which have been reported in the international media with an emphatic Christian bias. Subsequently, in 2010 the central and state governments allowed the visit of a European Union delegation to conduct inquiry into the recent Hindu/Christian riots in Orissa, even though local tribal leaders have expressed strong apprehensions that international groups favor one section of the local population over the other.
World Vision is one of the organizations that is blamed by natives as the chief instigator. In 2008, a Hindu monk and four others were gunned down on a Hindu holiday for their work in counteracting the Christian proselytizing. The Maoists issued a statement claiming responsibility for the killing, and stated that there was pressure from Christians to eliminate the eighty-year-old Hindu monk. Prior to the killing of the monk there were provocative speeches made by Christians inciting violence against him. The Evangelical-Maoist connection triggered Hindu-Christian violence. This provided the evangelical machinery with a huge opportunity to generate atrocity literature for use in international forums, and to raise more funds in the West for ‘saving innocent Christians’ in India.
The Christians also invented a separatist ethnic identity for the natives, claiming this to represent the ‘original inhabitants’ of the district. A member of National Minorities Commission visiting the violence affected areas of Orissa stated that the Maoists were working with the Christian organizations in the area. Police intelligence also confirmed that evangelists were employing Maoists to attack those tribals who had not converted to Christianity.
Vishal Mangalwadi, the US-based evangelist we described earlier in this chapter, appealed to the Christian evangelists in India as well as the Christian Right in the US, to overcome Christianity’s bias against Maoists and align with them in the common fight against Hinduism. He saw an opportunity in transforming Marxists who had earlier killed Christians, into tools for Christianity. This alliance with Maoists also offers Christianity another pathway into China. He compared this church strategy of accepting the Maoists, with Gandhi accepting the radical Indian freedom fighters, Bhagat Singh and Subhash Bose.
Such evangelical suggestions are not just wild speculations made in distant US seminaries and think-tanks. In India, these concretize into dangerous series of insurgencies that are reaching critical mass. In 2009, the Orissa state police discovered arms hidden in a Christian-run rehabilitation center. The news report stated:
The firearms include one SLR and three AK-47 rifles. The arms were looted from the Nayagarh police armoury during the ghastly Maoist raid on it in February 2008. … Nearly two-hundred converted Christians were staying at the centre. Police sources strongly believe in a possible link between the Maoists and some minority community leaders in the riot-hit Kandhamal district. Police suspect that the deceased was a core member of Vamsadhara division of the banned CPI (Maoist). …
The academic legitimacy of the idea that each linguistic group is a sub-nationality has also created an insurgency in Assam. At first this started with the problem of Bangladeshi infiltration, but it- has transformed itself into an anti-India secessionist movement. The terrorist group spearheading this separatism, United Liberation Front of Assam, has created very strange alliances. Political analysts Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam show the gradual transformation of ULFA ideology, which allowed it to derive support from Maoist as well as pan-Islamic forces:
ULFA gradually distanced itself from the immigration issue. … It puts forward the idea of a federal Assam where different ‘nationalities’ would possess maximum autonomy bordering on self-rule. … ULFA is understood by some to have made a radical shift by … becoming influenced by Maoism, and attempting to give a leftist direction to Assamese nationalism. A new aspect of ULFA’s ideology emerged, however when in July 1992, in a publication addressed to ‘East Bengal migrants’, ULFA identified not only the Indian state, but ‘Indians’ as the real enemy. … This campaign against ‘Indians’ resulted in a number of targeted killings of poor migrants of UP and Bihar in Assam (for instance, in episodes of 2003 and 2007).
This ideological development brought ULFA access to a larger South Asia network of anti-India subversive activities, including Dravidian separatists. According to Intelligence reports, lSI (Pakistan’s military intelligence service) introduced the ULFA to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ellam (LTTE) for the purpose of smuggling arms through Myanmar. In April 1996, four Tamils were among those arrested for trying to smuggle more than five-hundred AK-47 rifles, eighty machine guns, fifty rocket-launchers and two-thousand grenades in two ships. The networking capabilities of ULFA with other insurgents, particularly in Tamil Nadu, have increased alarmingly. An ULFA camp was discovered in Tamil Nadu. State intelligence learned that a joint training camp of LTTE and ULFA had been in existence for some years.
From the late 1990s, the Maoists have started creating nexuses with various Jehadhi cells planted throughout India. Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Azam Ghouri, for example, was arrested after his meeting with some important Maoist leaders in the Warangal and Nizamabad districts of Andhra Pradesh in September 1999.
Using Intellectual Celebrities
When at last Indian government woke up to the reality of the Maoist threat and launched a nation-wide operation against Maoists, celebrity intellectuals, often groomed by the West, voiced a strong protest against government operations. An example of such support for the Maoists in International media is Arundhati Roy. The Booker prize winner described the Maoist insurgency as one between haves and have-nots, in which the Indian government ‘needs an enemy—and it has chosen the Maoists’.
An independent scholar exposed such claims of Roy as blatant falsehoods:
It is hardly a case of ‘an army of the poor against the army of the rich’, as Roy suggests. On the contrary, it seems like the Maoists are better armed, better equipped and have better intelligence facilities. … Hundreds of policemen and other unarmed people have died in the Maoist attacks while Roy accuses the media of demonising the Maoists and coming up with figures about Maoist violence that are inaccurate and even false.
In fact, the kind of logistics that Maoists are building up at different levels, from media propaganda to gound-level weapons, needs enormous amounts of money. A study of the money trail to Maoists reports:
Maoists spent over INR 1.75 billion in 2007 for the purchase of weapons, including AK-47s, landmines and rocket launchers. According to the police, an Australian arms dealer had struck a deal with the Maoists to supply a record two-hundred AK-47s by the end of 2008, via the Malaysia-West Bengal drug route. Vehicles, uniforms and medicines are another major component of expenditure. The Maoists have acquired motorcycles with special tyres to make travel easier in dense forests and tough terrain. Publicity and propaganda is another major head on which the Maoists spend considerably. Besides maintaining websites, publishing party magazines Awam-e-jung (Hindi) and CPI-Maoist (English), they also operate a lowfrequency radio in the jungles to campaign against the police and the administration. The Maoists also spent huge sums on communication equipment, and mobile and satellite phones are very common. The Raipur police raided an urban Maoist network centre and seized account books for collection and disbursal of INR 50 million.
Roy says with pride in a propaganda article that the Maoists are having the latest modern weapons: ‘serious rifles, INSAS, SLR, two have AK-47s’ and that they recruit child soldiers. Maoists get money from foreign-funded NGOs. A Bihar government document lists several NGOs suspected of diverting funds to the Maoists. Most such NGOs are funded by visiting tourists or international donor agencies. The former Bihar Home Secretary, Afzal Amanullah, stated, ‘Intelligence agencies did report such things being channelised. Now, we have got to warn foreigners and do a lot of planning to stop this worrisome syndrome from spreading’.
With India intensifying its counter-insurgency operations, Maoist insurgents asked Arundhati Roy to mediate with the state. The use of such celebrities by Maoists to present their case in public is a public relations exercise, far from being an honest attempt for negotiation. One columnist observed that the insurgents adopt celebrities to push their cause in civil society, bypassing the dialogue with the state. The mediating intellectuals help the Maoists to entrench themselves deeper within civil society.
“A GLOBAL NEXUS IS MANAGING AND EXACERBATING INDIA’S LOCAL FAULT LINES”
By —Rajiv Malhotra, Co-author, Breaking India
What provoked you to write this book?
Unfortunately, Indian history teaches a binary racial theory of Indian society even though traditional writings (Sanskrit, Tamil and others) did not use race as a construct. While western race theories have become outdated and exorcised throughout the developed world they have been made to survive and are nurtured in the former colonies. My awareness of this and my discovery of the Afro-Dalit Project that aims to deepen the social divides in India by framing them through a racial prism, led to the research behind this book. As the research progressed, I discovered a global nexus managing and exacerbating India’s local fault lines.
How authentic are your sources?
This is a well-researched and well-documented book with hundreds of references, endnotes and entries in the bibliography. The arguments are backed up professionally and objectively. Many of the reference materials are official documents obtained from the very forces which the authors identify as being hostile to India’s unity.
Do you think India is really going to break up?
The authors want the book to be proven wrong and India to thrive as a united entity. But we do go for medical stress tests in order to know our vulnerabilities and that involves looking for problems that might not be obvious. This book is a similar exercise to uncover the centrifugal forces that weaken the nation’s immune system by linking up with global forces. So a ‘business as usual’ scenario would be a sign of complacency by those who do not want to deal with real issues. I don’t think India will break up in the next 20 years, but the fault lines will worsen and this will stress India’s growth rate because it will become an increasing drain on resources. After 20 years I am unsure.
What are the remedial measures that you recommend?
The book does not recommend in detail any concrete remedy. Proper understanding of the problem and acceptance of its existence is in itself a major first step towards remedy. Identifying such a colossal problem and bringing it to wider attention is itself a huge task, and a thankless job at a time when most people want only good news. My wish is that Indians must work together to remove these internal fault lines so that foreign entities cannot exploit them. Institutions should be set up that study the foreign forces intervening. India’s foreign policy should include bringing this intervention to the attention of the Western nations involved, and be afraid of facing such forces.
You haven’t dealt much with the issue of Islamic radicalism which is also playing an important role in breaking India?
The book deals with the specific issue of Dravidian-Dalit fault lines which is used by the Western forces. It deals with Islamic radical elements only as part of their ideological and logistic links with the Dravidian-Dalit fault lines. For example, under the heading ‘Islamic Slice of Dravidistan’ (pp.394-411) the book explains how Dravidian politics has nurtured jihadi elements in South India. It explains how forces competing for global dominance in the international arena can form strange nexuses in India. This prediction of the book has been proved right by recent investigative report of the well-known magazine The Week which disclosed the nexus between Islamic fundamentalist separatists and Maoists. A research project on Islamic terrorism threat would be a different major undertaking.
What you have to say if your book will be seen as anti-minority specifically anti-Christian?
The book is not anti-minority, or against any religion. In fact it provokes the reader to question the simplistic notions of majority and minority in the globalised world. A community may be numerically small relative to the local population, but globally it may be part of the majority that is powerful, assertive and well-funded. So the book puts forth some serious questions regarding our conventional perceptions and categorisations of the term minority and majority. The book exposes many kinds of institutions based in USA and Europe, including governments, churches, think tanks, academics, and others. But it is important to clarify that the book does not blame or demonise any Indian community. It does not criticise Christianity as a religion even while discussing certain institutional mechanisms that operate on behalf of it. Nor does it wish to accuse any community of Indians for their identities or religious views. It merely focuses on the nature of the work being directed under foreign supervision.
You have pointed out that the Dalit movement is guided by foreign players. But how will you comment on the social discriminations spread within the Indian society? Don’t you think it has also some roots in the indigenous traditions?
The book acknowledges these grievances as legitimate and that India has not adequately addressed them. It presents the implications of handing control over to foreign hands in a manner that reminds us of the colonial era. Hence, the book demands in its own way that India must deal with its internal inequalities and defects. It neither glosses over the deficiencies of Indian society nor paints a picture of a golden past. But it asserts that India has the internal strength for successful social reforms, and there is a long history in India of such social reforms being successful when they were rooted in Indian soil.
Interviewed by Ravi Shankar
Maoists are ‘Gandhians with a Gun’ and Gandhi ‘a pious humbug’
Arundhati Roy, far from bringing Maoists into the mainstream democracy as some of her supporters have claimed, acts as a spokesperson for violence. In a highly publicized article in Outlook just before a major Maoist attack, she exemplified the doublespeak. The article starts with a pious question to the readers to consider Maoists as ‘Gandhians with a gun’. But the emotional rhetoric glorifies the founder of India’s Maoist violence, Charu Mazumdar, the architect of Maoist terror in India who advocated ‘an annihilation campaign’, while Gandhian non-violence is called ‘pious humbug’. She then goes on to justify every separatist insurgency within India and terms India ‘an essentially upper-caste Hindu State’ which, from the day of its independence ‘a colonial power, annexing territory’, has been ‘waging war’ against ‘Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Communists, Dalits, Tribals and, most of all, against the poor’. The Indian Home Ministry also observed the misplaced stand of ‘India’s own intellectuals against the national interests’. It charged the ‘role of the foreign-sponsored agencies’ for coming in the way of tackling the Maoist insurgency.
On April 2010, in the deadliest Maoist attack of the recent times, seventy-six Indian soldiers were ambushed to death in Chhattisgarh. Following this macabre incident, a cultural celebration was organized to praise the Maoists at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The massacre led to a nationwide coordinated search by intelligence agencies. In Gujarat, three activists with Maoist links were arrested by the police. This arrest was condemned by Jesuit missionaries. Following the arrest, the link between the Maoists and their Filipino comrades came to light and this was later corroborated by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency of Philippines. Apart from Gujarat, noted Jesuit activists also provide media support to Maoist insurgency and have enjoyed proximity to Maoists. For example, in a reminiscence of an Australian Jesuit priest who worked in India, another Jesuit recounts how, while they were ‘returning from a village in North India where the area had been recently liberated by Maoist rebels’ the Australian Jesuit was on friendly terms with the Maoists, who surrounded them and he later called them ‘just kids with guns’.
Apart from such grassroots socializing with Maoists, Jesuits also provide sustained propaganda-support for Maoists in mainstream media. Dr Ambrose Pinto S.]., a former director of the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, and currently the principal of St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru, writes passionate eulogies of Maoists in mainstream media which are featured prominently on the website of ‘Jesuits for Social Action’ (JESA). In the article ‘Why we oppose Green Hunt’, Pinto reinforces Risley’s thesis that tribals are non-Hindus, thereby creating political space for the churchmen to intervene as mediators. Pinto speaks of the ‘Dalit or tribal way of life and civilization’ as being threatened not by Maoists but by the Indian government.
Another prominent Jesuit voice speaking for Maoists is Xavier Manjooran, who stated that ‘to demand one’s legal rights and to be a terrorist is the same thing in Gujarat’. Gujarat Adivasi Mahasabha, run by Manjooran, is one of the signatories to a letter against the planned offensive by the government of India, published by Maoist Information Bulletin of the CPI-Maoist in its December 2009 edition. As early as 2003 in an interview to a Pakistani magazine, Manjooran boasted how his organization gives martial training to tribals and alienates them from the mainstream Indian society by indoctrinating them with the Aryan/Dravidian race theory.
Apart from Christian forces, Pakistan also has invested effectively in Maoist insurgency. Ben West, an analyst with STRATFOR, a global team of intelligence professionals, writes:
STRATFOR sources in India claim that Pakistani intelligence has established business relationships with Naxalites to sell arms and ammunition, and lately has tried to use Naxal bases for anti-Indian activities. There is evidence that the lSI is providing weapons and ammunition to the Naxalites in exchange for money or services, mostly through third parties like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) or the ostensible Bangladeshi militant leader Shailen Sarkar … Naxalite leaders in India deny cooperating with Pakistan but have very publicly pledged their support for separatist movements in India. The analyst further corroborates the central thesis of this book: how civilizational competitors at global level come together in India against their common enemy.
Thus, we see a confluence of forces from different streams, operating at different levels and based in different parts of India, coalescing to transform pluralistic democratic India into a regime of specific totalitarian ideology and/or fundamentalist theology. What is striking in this evolution of new nexuses is how two bitterly opposed ideologies that are clashing globally (i.e. Maoists and Christians) work together within India.
Islamic Slice of Dravidistan
Even prior to Independence, the Dravidian movement had some ideological affinities towards the pan-Islamic movement. Many Muslims justified the demand for a separate Pakistan by claiming that the Aryans were plotting to remove Islamic culture from India, just as they were suppressing the Dravidian culture. Mohamed Ali Jinnah toyed with the idea of encouraging forces that would break up India beyond just the partition to create Pakistan. Soon after the Muslim League had passed its resolution demanding Pakistan in 1940, the Dravidian ideologue E.Y. Ramasamy Nayakar (popularly known as EVR) passed a similar resolution demanding a sovereign state, to be called Dravidistan. In 1941, at the twenty-eight Annual session of the Muslim League, Jinnah and EVR shared the dais and Jinnah extended full support to splitting off something called Dravidistan:
I have every sympathy and shall do all to help, and you establish Dravidistan, where the seven percent Muslim population will stretch its hand of friendship and live with you on lines of security, justice and fair play.
The understanding was that they would support each other’s separatism. Jinnah further expanded his vision for the balkanization of India into Pakistan, Dravidistan, and Bengalistan. This gave a common platform for both Dravidian separatists and pan-Islamic voices. EVR supported the Muslim political movement in Tamil Nadu and the movement to create Pakistan. He became a featured speaker at the Muslim League meetings and was invited to speak at Prophet Mohammad’s birthday celebrations, where he persistently attacked Hinduism. DMK, the political heir of his Dravidian movement, continued this policy of aligning with political Islam in Tamil Nadu. From the time of Independence in 1947 until 1974, DMK and Muslim League were so closely aligned that one political commentator remarked that ‘their organizations become virtually indistinguishable’.
In 1972, DMK split into two parties, one remaining DMK and the new one called AIADMK (All India Anna Dravidian Munntera Kazhakam). Since then, the pan-Islamic political parties have continued to align with one or the other of these Dravidian parties. Between the two, DMK has been more consistent in catering to the appetite of political Islam in Tamil Nadu and has ideologically aligned the Dravidian movement with the pan-Islamic movement.
In parallel with the radicalization of political Islam in Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Palestine, the wave of radicalism has also reached Tamil Nadu. The jihadi networks have been silently building infrastructure in South India, where the political patronage they enjoy shields them. The patronage given to political Islam has often compromised the law-enforcing agencies against jihadi violence. The reason is a combination of ideology and vote-bank pragmatics. …
Ironically, pan-Islamic separatism in Kerala was initiated by a Marxist regime which had declared itself avowedly secular. Prominent social observer Nayyar Shamsi explains:
Communist Party, which loudly swore and still swears by secularism … courted Muslim League to grab power in Kerala. It went a step further and created in 1968 the new district of Malappuram, which has a predominantly Muslim population when the redoubtable E.M.S. Namboodiripad was the chief minister.
Later, Malappuram district would become a hot-bed of jihad activities, as will be explained. Since the 1980s, the jihadi movements have been nurtured in Kerala by the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). They developed a discourse in which they saw themselves as the successors of Zayn-ad-Din, a Kerala resident whose 1580 book, Tuhfat al-Mujahideen, called on ‘the Faithful to undertake a jihad against the worshippers of the Cross’. This linked jihad in India with the worldwide Salafi-jihadi movement, making it part of an international agenda. After explosives were discovered in Chennai in 1997, Kerala’s chief minister told his state assembly that up to eight extremist groups were operating in Kerala who received funds and other support from foreign countries, including Iran and the Arab countries.
Later that year, synchronized with the Tamil Nadu twin express bomb-blasts, there was a blast on an express train in Kerala, killing four and injuring forty-nine. The newly formed Islamic Defense Force (IDF) of Kerala claimed responsibility. In 1998, pamphlets made by IDF were found near a bomb blast. Investigations revealed that IDF was clandestinely functioning within the All India Jihad Committee premises in Chennai, from where the twin blasts in Kerala and Tamil Nadu trains had been planned.
Investigations after the 1998 Coimbatore militant attacks revealed that even before the train bomb blasts, parts of northern Kerala had transformed into a radical Islamic enclave. The news portal www.rediff.com reported that from 1993 onwards, the Kerala jihadis had been gaining strength, which they extended into the neighboring Tamil Nadu jihad.
Abdul Nasser Madhani, Godfather of south Indian Jihad
Among those arrested in connection with the 1998 Coimbatore blasts was Abdul Nasser Madhani, founder of a banned radical group called Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS). The group quickly disguised itself by changing into a political party with a secular name, People’s Democratic Party (PDP). After the banning of Madhani’s ISS, Kerala’s Marxist government stopped monitoring its activities. The police discovered that elements within the disbanded ISS had regrouped instantly to avoid attention and had joined various radical organizations with random names to confuse the intelligence agencies. These organizations have overlapping membership. The police soon discovered that the terrorists in Tamil Nadu had been trained by one of these new Kerala groups.
In 1999, on the eve of Indian Independence Day, the Kerala police arrested three members of ‘an Islamic fundamentalist organization’ which had sent ‘human bombs’ to assassinate the state chief minister and other prominent leaders, in order to exert pressure for securing the release of Madhani. Even while Madhani was in jail, his party continued to expand among the Kerala Muslim youth, aligning itself during successive elections with both the major political parties in Kerala. PDP (People’s Democratic Party) also proposed creating a Dalit-Islamic alliance. Though he was in jail, Madhani’s party won two seats in the elections in the state capital, and boosted its legitimacy when the Congress-led United Democratic Front secretly sought its help in the 2001 parliamentary election. Even the state secretary of the Indian Union Muslim League pointed out that political parties had ‘promoted groups like PDP that held extreme views’ and how this has helped spawn terrorism in the state.
Madhani’s political party lobbied for his release during the 2004 parliamentary elections. Both the major parties of Kerala appealed to the Tamil Nadu DMK government for his release. This campaign expanded the Islamist support-base amongst Dravidianists, radical leftists, and human rights activists. The Kerala state assembly passed a resolution for his release. Subsequently, the chief minister of Kerala visited Tamil Nadu to ask his counterpart in that state to provide Madhani with special treatment. Dalit Voice brought issues sympathetic to Madhani’s condition in jail and alleged a conspiracy to keep him imprisioned. …
Terror Emerges in Karnataka
In Karnataka also, a jihadi terror infrastructure has been built. Bengaluru’s vulnerability to terror was shown in 2005 when militants attacked the prestigious Indian Institute of Science and killed a scientist. Investigations revealed that the mastermind was Maulana Abdul Bari, a Saudi-based cleric and financier of several Tamil Nadu Lashkar-affiliated groups. Investigators detained at least four individuals in Tamil Nadu for their possible role, revealing that jihadi recruitment in Tamil Nadu has revived to the levels of a decade ago.
In 2006, Karnataka police arrested two Pakistani nationals belonging to Al Badr, one of the oldest Pakistani jihadi groups operating in Kashmir. The arrest revealed logistic connections between terror groups in Tamil Nadu, Karnakata and Kashmir. Soon, another organization, called Karnataka for Dignity, was launched as a benign public front for this jihadi network. In 2007, a rally protesting the hanging of Saddam Hussein turned violent and Muslim youth attacked Hindu houses and vandalized a Hindu temple. A month later, three radical movements in Tamil·Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala launched a pan-Islamic movement called Popular Front of India, that held its first conference in Bengaluru. The name was based on the well-known Popular Front of Palestine. The Indian Express reported:
What is worrying the police is the fact that majority of the leaders of this new front belong to the now-banned SIMI. … Sources in the Home department said the PFI had been active mainly in coastal Karnataka area and Bengaluru city. Police suspect the outfit’s role in the recent violence in Mangalore and Udupi districts.
The Karnataka jihadis’ international links were further established when an Islamic engineer from Bengaluru attacked Glasgow airport in 2007. This brought out his connections with a Bengaluru fundamentalist outfit which feeds recruits to Lashkar-e-Taiba. After the 2008 bomb blasts in Bengaluru, anti-terrorism detectives led to the arrests of several persons linked to a Kerala-based unit of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was sending youths to LeT training camps in Kashmir and Pakistan. …
New Developments in 2010
In the aftermath of the death of Sri Lankan LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, Tamil Nadu separatism got a boost. A Tamil film director suddenly rose into prominence, starting a new movement, ‘We, Tamils’, using the LTTE emblem as its logo. He was invited by Tamil groups in Canada, where he reportedly said that the war would have ended differently had the rebels bombed a hundred Sinhala schools for every Tamil school bombed by the Sri Lankan forces. He was deported from Canada, and in Tamil Nadu he conducts a series of conferences emphasizing the ethnic and linguistic separatism of the Tamils. His website provides publicity to Maoist and Kashmir separatist causes, such as, for example, a Maoist demonstration to be held in London on the day of Indian Independence, and a Kashmir separatist demonstration in Chennai. Deivanayagam has joined hands with this person to further radicalize the Tamil identity, along with Christianizing it.
Deivanayagam has recently launched an organization named ‘Federation of All Self-respecting Tamils’, collaborating with separatists. They falsely claimed to be championing the right of everyone to worship in the Kapaleeswarar Temple and to perform puja inside the sanctum sanctorum. He also launched an agitation against the Tamil Nadu chief minister, M. Karunanidhi, accusing him of betraying the Tamil race by including scholars who were brahmins in the Classic Tamil Conference held in 2010.
And simultaneously, in Kanyakumari district, a workshop was conducted for evangelicals on ‘how to proclaim that India is a Christian Dravidian Nation’ using the St Thomas Myth. In the workshop, Yesuvadiyan (whose book India is a Christian Nation has been discussed earlier) asked Christians to seek political power, because Christanity commands them to do so. Many strategies were discussed on confusing the Hindus with issues about their religion, and then answering these issues with Biblical interpretations of Hinduism. One tactic taught was to inform Hindus that Jesus is the real currency, whereas all the Hindu gods are fake photocopies of that currency, with no value.
The street-level provocations of Hindu sensibilities were such that they could easily lead to violence. Amidst such tensions, the Classical Tamil Conference featured anti-Hindu as well as Dravidian Christian voices. A balanced academic tone was used to emphasize a non-Indian Tamil identity, with the full support of and massive funding from the Indian government. For example, a session on the philosophical traditions of Tamils proclaimed:
The idea of Atman and Karma was introduced by Aryans to enslave Dravidians. … Karma concept of Dravidians was twisted by evil Aryans to justify Varnashrama Dharma. Thus they became the ruling race of India and they justified their subjugation and humiliation of Dravidians. … Anyone who knows Aryan-Dravidian race history will understand that fatalism and idea of soul, etc., were introduced as cunning ploy by Aryans to subjugate Dravidians. Hence, these evil concepts were opposed from Buddha onwards to EVR. In the line of Mao for Tamil social liberation, the three great savants (EVR, Anna and Karunanidhi) are paving the way.
Another scholar recycled the Thomas-Christian claim that Sanskrit and Vedas were created in the second century CE.
Another session titled ‘Tamil and Religion’ was chaired by Bishop Ezra Sargunam, founder of Evenagelical Church of India. The session demonized Sanskrit, and the chair declared that Sanskrit was created to promote casteism and social inequality. He supported Deivanayagam’s claim that Tamil spiritual and ethical literature was Christian influenced, and that the Dravidian movement was started and nurtured by missionaries. He ended his speech with a call for Tamils to convert to either Christianity or Islam, or to embrace ‘Dravidian religion’ by joining DMK. Thus, the crank theories instrumental in creating a pseudo-scientific Christianized racist identity of Tamils, are being propagated with strong central government assistance. …
As noted in a prior chapter, China has strategic interests in capturing water that presently flows from Nepal into the Ganga river. Additionally, its claims over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh are intended to give it the ability to divert much of the Brahamaputra water source toward southeastern China. The third major river of the subcontinent, the Indus, is already in disputed territory, as much of it flows through Kashmir. The strategic implications for India’s water supply cannot be overstated.
Additionally, China fears India as the only possible game-spoiler in its drive towards world domination. It has already compromised the West, including the US, given its prominence as the world’s banker and ability to invest shrewdly and in unpredictable ways. The US is unwilling to confront China, and this capitulation is likely to worsen over time. On the other hand, India is another vast nation that offers the West many of China’s advantages, and this poses a serious threat to China. China has a certain awe of the Indian mind’s capabilities, its antiquity that brought much civilization to China through Buddhism, and its large (and younger) labor pool and huge markets.
China has already tied up strategic deals on both sides of India. Myanmar is very much a Chinese satellite, thanks to India’s lazy foreign policy and for following the US lead in isolating Myanmar. China has built massive cities on Myanmar’s northern border, and has a naval presence in the Bay of Bengal. It has leased a corridor through Myanmar for a road highway, rail and oil pipeline that would connect the Indian Ocean to China through Myanmar. This enables both oil imports and China’s manufactured exports to save almost two thousand kilometers by not having to travel through the Straits of Malacca in order to link China with the Indian Ocean.
A parallel situation already exists in Pakistan: China has built a naval base in Baluchistan, and has road, rail and oil highways through Pakistan and Tibet into China. The China-Pakistan collaboration has far worse implications given Pakistan’s own designs on India and its state of desperation. China need not fake direct military action against India, because Pakistan is ever willing to do so on China’s behalf. China is already supplying military hardware to Pakistan, along with financial capital and technology. It is not far-fetched to imagine a scenario where China’s actions against India would get unofficially outsourced to Pakistan-based militants. This could also be a sort of ‘deal’ that China makes with the Islamic militants in exchange for securing peace within its own borders where Muslims comprise a majority. Such deals are well known in world history, wherein enemies collaborate, at least temporarily, to set aside their mutual differences in order to pursue a bigger common enemy. India provides an ideal target to divert China’s hostile relations with radical Islam.
It is outside the scope of this book to argue that Islamic doctrine requires its followers to spread it worldwide, and that it regards itself as the ultimate social-political system that must rule over all humanity. It is enough to point out that it has had a history of expansion, which Muslims share with pride. Sermons in mosques preach the inevitability of ultimate Islamic victory. While there is enormous diversity across the various Islamic ethnicities—including south Asian, ASEAN, African, Arabic, Iranian, and Western—as well as internal disputes between Sunnis and Shiites, the fact remains that when it comes to external affairs there is tremendous unity of purpose. Whether it was the caliphate movement in the previous century, or whether it is Palestine, Kashmir or Kosovo, Muslims worldwide get mobilized in a united manner. In fact, one might surmise that these extroverted mobilizations serve to divert attention away from the various internal frictions, because a common cause of victimhood and a common program of action gets identified to channel Islamic passion.
We are fully cognizant of the various liberal Islamic attempts around the world that seek to counteract the radical Islam. However, they are far from confident of bringing about the reformation they aspire to. Many of them acknowledge that the Reformation of Christianity in the Middle Ages took a couple of hundred years of violence before the Church agreed to the church/state separation which enabled freethinking and modernity. They fear that their voices are too few and feeble, whereas the radical Islamists have gained momentum and are unlikely to slow down.
Any scenario of India’s security simply cannot disregard these realities in the hope that the liberal side will ultimately prevail. Not only is the final outcome uncertain in this internal fight for the future of Islam, the world must be prepared to live amidst this fight for the foreseeable future. It would be naive and foolish to simply wish it away.
Specifically concerning Islam in India, one must start by noting that Indian Muslims are among the most liberal in the world, sharing a great deal of commonality of culture with Hindus over the centuries. They are very patriotic and even nationalistic. Many are secular, well-educated and well-established in various professions and industries.
Yet there are over twenty-nine thousand madrasas in India, many with funding from overseas—mainly Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Kashmir militancy has overflowed in some cases, as noted earlier. Given the poverty, unemployment among youth, lack of secular education in many Muslim communities, and the abundance of foreign Islamic influence, the future of the community is up for grabs by various contenders. Among these contenders has always been Pakistan. For Pakistan, a successfully integrated India, with Hindu-Muslim harmony and prosperity, poses a threat, for that would prove the viability of Gandhi’s ‘one-nation theory’ in which all religions can live together. This would refute the ‘two-nation theory’ on which Pakistan was founded and on which it survives today.
In short, interference from Pakistan to stir up Indian Muslim youth is likely to continue and must be factored in any security analysis. Besides its own nuclear capability and its Taliban export capability, Pakistan enjoys a powerful alliance with China.
The American Eagle’s Double Vision
In the face of all this, many Indians feel that the US is India’s best ally. This may well be true, and yet Indians must understand that all Americans do not have just one point of view. Nor is the American posture towards India stable and constant over time. The American political winds keep shifting, with many competing points of view on every complex issue.
Before we analyze the Indian-American interactions, we should examine the US problems with China and Islamic nations. The United States considers itself as following both a Christian ethos and a very modern enlightened secular ethos. That gives it a divided personality to start with, and now both of these identities are threatened by other civilizations. This is explained below.
The clash with China can be called the clash of modernities. This competition is not based on religion or ideology but on modern materialistic concerns, such as the industrial economy, military strength, political power, and consumerism. The Chinese openly claim that they are going to become more American in various ways than the Americans themselves. With decline in American manufacturing and the outsourcing of many American jobs and industries, this is eating America at the core of its modern industrial complex society. The US is becoming a debtor nation, with China holding much of the debt. The USA sent China the industries, technology and machines, and bought the finished goods. So the US has actually transplanted its entire industrial complex across the Pacific Ocean to China, Japan, and Korea, enabling them to compete effectively with the US economy. This is the first trauma of the United States.
The second trauma is the clash of fundamentalisms. Unlike the China threat, Islamic fundamentalism is not looking for modernity. Islamic countries are not clashing with the US because they have better machines, better factories, or more consumer exports. They are not concerned about that. They are competing against fundamentalist Christianity and its rival claims over historical prophets, with each side claiming to have been given God’s final word. Both Christianity and Islam are claiming that they have received God’s franchise—in fact, each claims the exclusive franchise and alleges that all other religions are bogus. The franchise claim is global and exclusive. It is interesting that Islam, as an offspring and sequel to Christianity, is now taking on its own Abrahamic parent.
With the Chinese threat on one side and the Islamic threat on the other, America has developed a schizophrenic attitude towards India, which needs to be understood. Essentially, the United States is hedging its bets on India. That is why it is impossible to characterize American attitudes on India one way or the other in any absolute sense. …
(Based on excerpts from Breaking India, AMARYLLIS, Delhi, 2011)
By RSN Singh