Friday, March 31st, 2023 14:33:11

Handle Terrorism With Kid Gloves

Updated: January 25, 2014 11:37 am

A 100-page report “Jihadist Violence: The Indian Threat” by An American Think Tank, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, underlines that the Indian jihadist movement constitutes an “internal security issue with an external dimension…The Indian jihadist movement formed organically as a result of endogenous factors, specifically communal grievances and a desire for revenge, but is more lethal and more resilient than it otherwise would have been, thanks to external support from the Pakistani state and Pakistan and Bangladesh-based militant groups…The banned terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM) is more lethal and resilient because of the support it receives from Pakistan.”

It articulates: “The decentralized IM network has a loose leadership currently based in Pakistan, but moving between there and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.” According to it, external support was a force multiplier for Indian militancy rather than a key driver of it. Although the IM receives support from LeT, it should not be viewed as an affiliate within the same command-and-control hierarchy.

It further states that the Indian Mujahideen–the primary indigenous jihadist threat–is part of a larger universe of Islamist militant entities operating in India, many, but not all, of which are connected to external entities such as the Pakistani militant group LeT and the Bangladeshi Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI).

It also emphasises that the IM should not be viewed as a formal organisation, but instead is best understood as a label for a relatively amorphous network populated by jihadist elements from the fringes of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the criminal underworld. The improper use of the IM label for all indigenous jihadist violence contributes to make confusion about its composition and cohesion. The IM connects to and sometimes attempts to absorb smaller cells and self-organising clusters of would-be militants. The report is based on research conducted over twenty months from January 2012 to September 2013 and draws on primary and secondary sources material as well as on field interviews conducted in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The USA State Department in its annual Congressional-required Country Reports on Terrorism says that as many as 805 people died in India in terrorist attacks. Yasin Bhatkal of Indian Mujahdeen was arrested on August 27, 2013, in Pokhra, Nepal. He told his interrogators that he had asked his Pakistan-based boss, Riyaz Bhatkal, over phone whether the latter could arrange a small “nuclear bomb”. According to him, Riyaz responded, “Anything can be arranged in Pakistan.” “Riyaz told me attacks can be done with nuclear bombs. I requested him to look for a nuclear bomb for Surat…Riyaz told me Muslims would also die in the blast, to which I said that we would paste posters in mosques asking every Muslim to quietly evacuate their families from the city.”

If his statement is to be believed, it only implies that mosques, which are meant for prayers and making better human beings, are being used for fostering and sheltering terrorism and terrorists. Many important Muslim clerics have condemned terrorism saying that it is anti-Islamic. But it has not made any impact on Muslim terrorist outfits. Terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) has claimed responsibility for Jul 2013 Bodh Gaya serial blast as well as Modi’s rally in October. It boasted that nine “dhamake humne karaye (We carried out the nine blasts)”. “Hamara agla nishana Mumbai hai. Rok sako to rok lo (Our next target is Mumbai. Stop us if you can)”, it said. India’s biggest enemies are not terrorists of any outfit, but the Indians themselves, who would appease terrorists and go out of their way to condemn each other and hold their opponents responsible for a terrorist attack and accuse them of spreading hatred. What should any man in his senses do, if terrorists of any community indulge in attacking others? Should he love and praise them, because some such actions of terrorists help some political parties in garnering their vote?

The Uttar Pradesh government gets the cake in being the best in getting votes of the Muslim communities, though it failed in controlling the Muzaffarnagar riots. Earlier, it was the present UP ruling party chief, who called the riot victims conspirators aided by the Congress and the BJP. Now to show that all is well, the Chief Minister, who has ordered closure of the relief camps, now wants cases against hate-monger politicians, except those of the BJP, be withdrawn in the so-called public interest.

The UP government has finally moved to withdraw cases of hate-mongering, violating prohibitory orders and inciting violence, filed against Muslim leaders, belonging to BSP and the Congress. Inflammatory speeches made by these leaders allegedly led to large-scale riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining Shamli districts in the aftermath of the Kawal eve-teasing incident in Muzaffarnagar.

As per official sources, the law department of state government has written to the district magistrates of both Muzaffarnagar and Shamli if the cases against the leaders can be withdrawn in public interest. Any district magistrate or police chief, who may differ with the above suggested views, will probably find himself as OSD, not officer on duty, but officer in search of duty. The rival political parties look upon such actions as an attempt by the ruling party to deflect public attention from its failure to control riots and criticism on forcible evictions at the relief camps.

I do not deny any Indian his rights under the Constitution, irrespective of his caste, creed or religion. 99.99 per cent Muslims have nothing to do with the misguided so-called jihadis. But there is no protection available to any Indian Muslim from the government to stand up for their rights, except empty promises, and no action.

It was so with the Khalistani movement for a separate independent country by carving certain areas for Khalistan. In fact, such was the fear of the Khalistanis that the then Minister of State for Home Affair, Government of India, was congratulated by the MP from Amritsar in 1988 on his visit. I, as the Inspector General of Police of the Central Reserve Police, was at the airport in Amritsar to receive the minister. I, out of curiosity, asked the MP reasons for congratulations because as a Central government minister, he was free to visit any part of the country. He smiled and said that he is the first minister from Delhi to cross Beas river, as banks of the Beas were considered the “freed area of Khalistan”. But I felt great admiration for Shri Chidambram, as he not only met all the officials and boosted their morale, but he also went to the last post on the border to judge himself as to what was needed to stop influx of terrorists.

A force, which has having the World War II weapons like 303, could not stand against AK-47 of the Sikh terrorists. The state police and central forces had ramshackle Gypsies, which could not match the fast-moving Gypsies. They were replaced, not in months but in days and rest is the history as to how terrorism was crushed. JF Reberio, whom I know since 1964, when he was SP, Sholarpur (Maharashtra) and I was an Assistant Superintendent of Police in Indi, (Bijapur District of Karnataka), gave a call of “Bullet for Bullet”. Compare those days and the present days. Does any government have will to give such orders even where the law gives right for private defence to everybody including police. One reason for the terrorists to rule the roost is that the government does not want everything to be dealt with kid gloves, lest it loses its votes. It itself is not clear in using the powers that law gives to it and to every single soldier fighting the terrorists. It should, therefore, send an unambiguous message that terrorists will exactly meet the same fates they give to others. Then their nefarious deed, which keeps even good Muslims quiet, will disappear along with them.

By Joginder Singh

(The writer is former Director, CBI)

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