Inventing “Hindu Terror” 26\11: The Uncomfortable Conclusion
Kasab has been hanged, but there is a little doubt amongst majority of Indians that the ISI masterminds, who unleashed the terrorists on Mumbai on 26/11 had very carefully choreographed the entire attack in a manner so that it could be labelled as ‘Hindu Terror’. All the ten terrorists, who participated in the attack, had saffron wristbands (maulis). Abu Jundal, an Indian, one of the key masterminds of the attack, who was part of the control room in Pakistan during the attack, has categorically stated during his interrogation that his group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba at the behest of the ISI had carefully planned to make the Mumbai attacks appear as a handiwork of Hindu radicals. He was deported by Saudi Arabian authorities to India in June 2012. The terrorists were also provided fake IDs bearing Hindu names. They were painstakingly taught Hindi by none other than Abu Jundal, who holds an MA degree in the language. Further, Jundal has also revealed that the plan was to portray the perpetrators of terrorist attack as Hindus, out to avenge Karkare’s drive against ‘Hindu Terrorism’.
Kasab: Script Spoiler
Following the capture of Ajmal Kasab, the bid to label the attack as ‘Hindu Terror’ became even more desperate. A senior politician released a book RSS ki Sazish 26/11 by Aziz Burney, the then Chief Editor of Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), in December 2010 even when Kasab’s trial was being conducted. Later, the same Burney expressed: “I have never intended to pass allegations through my write-ups. If the feelings of any citizen of the country have been affected from my above-said views, then I regret for the same and I am prepared to change the title of the book if so required.” The said politician however has not expressed any regret even after the hanging of Ajmal Kasab. The desperation was quite evident when a senior former IPS officer from Maharashtra SM Mushrif within a year of 26/11 came out with a book, Who Killed Karkare, wherein it is insinuated that Karkare was killed by Hindu terrorists.
The said politician also maintained that Karkare regularly shared inputs on Hindu terror groups and activities and had conveyed apprehension to his life from these quarters. The politician also claimed that he had preserved the audio records, but had not made them public so far. In blatant disregard to the Official Secrets Act, the politician, a two-time Chief Minister of another state, claimed to be friendly to a Maharashtra cadre officer and discussed such details, which should have been only for the consumption of the official hierarchy of the officer. Moreover, the officer was relatively much junior to enjoy an intimate friendship of this senior politician. It may be mentioned that the said politician has the abominable distinction of questioning the Batla House encounter for consumption of a particular vote-bank.
Act of Providence
It was, therefore, only an act of providence that Ajmal Kasab’s love for life aided in his capture, barring which the forces in Pakistan and also in India, would have succeeded comprehensively in labelling 26/11 as a ‘Hindu Terror’ attack.
Abu Jundal’s deportation to India and his confessions served as a huge embarrassment for Pakistan and inimical elements within our country. In July 2012, an official in Pakistan’s Foreign Service said: “Our information is that there were at least 40 Indian nationals who helped the attackers.” This claim cannot be relied for veracity but it also cannot be dismissed as outrageous. It is now well established that the Pakistani terrorists did receive assistance from anti-national elements in India. It is a matter of commonsense that Abu Jundal is not an isolated freak steeped in Jihadi indoctrination but a part of an elaborate terrorist network in India drawing sustenance and guidance from ISI and terrorist organisations sponsored by it based in Pakistan. It is fair to assume that he would probably have disclosed their identities, but may have been withheld by the government for political exigencies.
The question that begs answer is why did the LeT not take responsibility for 26/11?
The deterrence of nuclear capability for any country is incumbent on its declaration or at least in conveying conspicuous signals. Similarly, the endurance of terror in the wake of a terrorist strike, particularly of the audacity, magnitude and symbolism of 26/11, lies in the declared or subtle ownership by the outfit concerned. The ownership, not necessarily explicit, of terrorist attacks or violence is critical to the morale of terrorist organisations. For Jihadis, the greatest motivation for sahadat or martyrdom is acknowledgment and propagation. Repudiation by their mother organisations can turn the cadres hostile. The prayer meetings held by LeT following the hanging of Kasab should be, therefore, viewed in this backdrop.
It is also true that terrorist organisations, even when their signature of terror is obvious, do take measures to obfuscate or mislead investigations by security agencies, purely for legal reasons, but it is rare for them to manipulate evidences in a manner so as to implicate other, real or imagined groups or organisations. This is done invariably by the State sponsors of terrorist groups when the objective is political, which is either to influence the domestic discourse or the discourse in another target country. In the latter case, the involvement and tacit support of the intelligence agencies of the State like the ISI to which the so-called non-State actors owe allegiance to, constitutes the life-line. The element of ‘denial’ with regard to the sponsor State is implicit in this form of wars, such as 26/11, to influence the discourse in the targeted country.
True to its ilk, as per David Headley, the LeT did not yield to the pressure of its parent organisation, the ISI, to allow the credit for the attack to be passed on to the Al-Qaeda. The ISI did not want LeT, its strategic arm, to come under the global scanner. The ISI, Headley revealed, had even prepared a list of four-five Al-Qaeda fighters to be projected as conspirators.
The attack on Mumbai by Pakistan through its irregular arm the LeT and its purported objective to portray it as ‘Hindu Terror’ was to alter the politico-religious discourse in India, which has been the worst victim of Jihadi terror for at least two decades. Unable to influence the pan-regional global Jihadi discourse emanating from Pakistan, some political masterminds in India, unnerved by the prospect of epoch-making vote-bank polarisation on religious lines, appear to have colluded with elements across the border directly or indirectly. Anyone with some degree of awareness of the tentacles of ISI in every level of the polity, religious organisations, media, mafia and the governing class in India can conjure the conspiracy. The identity of politicians, media personnel, and religious outfits having links with the ISI is well known in informed circles. The Fai Foundation is just one link that has been exposed.
It is also known that many politicians are blackmailed because the ISI has details of their money laundering through the ‘hawala route’, whose hub is in Karachi. Then there is also a constituency that is aligned with the ISI purely for ideological reasons. The existence of such elements has always been a reality but what is of dire concern today is its increasingly bold and aggressive posturing. Leave alone Pakistan and the terrorist outfits therein, there is no shame, guilt and repentance in evidence on part of Indian collaborators, both of the crude and sophisticated variety, of ISI and Jihadi groups in Pakistan. These collaborators were back in action in Kokrajhar, Mumbai, Pune, Hyedrabad and Bengaluru in terrorising our citizens of the North-East to cause their exodus from the Indian heartland. It clearly demonstrated that Jihadi terror far from being on retreat after 26/11 has entrenched itself in the entire country. Even under these circumstances, there are fierce advocates of enhanced exchanges with Pakistan and for resolution of the Siachen issue just because it is a formidable distraction for the Pakistan Military Intelligence establishment in the conduct of proxy war against India.
Significance of 2008
The year 2008 is not only significant for 26/11, a new paradigm of attack introduced by Pakistan, which continues to exercise the security concerns of many countries with the coastline, but it was also in this year that, a new term ‘Hindu Terror’ was introduced in the political lexicon of India. This was in September 2008, two months prior to 26/11. It began with the two bombings at Malegaon in Maharashtra and Modasa in Gujarat. The blasts were of low intensity, i.e. seven people were killed in Malegaon and one in Modasa. Quickly the authorities described them it as a handiwork of Hindu terrorists. Never in the past terrorist bombings resolved with such speed and emphasis. On hindsight, the same group (Hindu group) was said to be involved in blasts at the same place in Malegaon in 2006, wherein a number of arrests had already been made with the claim of conclusive evidence regarding the involvement of LeT and SIMI by the Maharashtra ATS. In those high-intensity blasts, in which RDX was used, 37 people were killed. The total dissimilarity in the signatures between Malegaon-I and Malegaon-II and the deterioration in expertise, i.e from RDX to CRUDE, remains inexplicable by the fabricators of ‘Hindu Terror’.
The political angle to these blasts cannot be ignored. The Congress Leader, Shankar Singh Vaghela, lost no time in insinuating the involvement of Hindu terrorists in the Modasa blasts. He was rather quick in concluding: “This proves that terror knows no religion and that it was a matter of concern that so far it was only one-sided trend of targeting one community for suspicion and questioning.” The theory of Hindu terror was ‘unravelled’ by the MHA and was faithfully disseminated by one particular newspaper and one particular news channel. The management of information by the government was anything but astute as the reports on the same incident filed by the said media was ridiculously dissonant on successive days. Supposedly, the only brief to them was to maintain the tempo to unsuspecting readers and viewers. These reports can still be gleaned and are stuff for criminal prosecution, but for ‘freedom of the press’. Also, only states having the same party government were on overdrive to unravel ‘Hindu Terror’. The dissonance in their fidelity to the script makes a hilarious commentary. As the scope and spread of ‘Hindu Terror’ began to be exaggerated, the script lost its credibility and has now died its natural death.
Abu Jundal has confessed that the attack on Mumbai was attempted in September 2008, but was abandoned due to rough sea. The synchronisation between the first attempt in September 2008 and the script of ‘Hindu Terror’ unfolding with the main plot centred in western part of the country, in the same period, cannot be dismissed, as a mere coincidence.
Without the specter of the phenomenon called ‘Hindu Terror’, the labelling of Mumbai attack as a handiwork of Hindu groups would have carried no credibility.
26\11: A Geopolitical Suicide!
Headley, Kasab and Abu Jundal have revealed the identities of their ISI handlers in the Mumbai attack. Headley did not deal with ISI through the LeT, but directly. He has revealed that one Maj Iqbal of the ISI personally gave him US $25,000 to set up an office in Mumbai. The symbiosis of relationship between the Pakistani State and the LeT stands completely exposed. 26\11 was, therefore, an attack by Pakistan on India.
The moot question that confounds and assaults any unbiased mind is that why did a beleaguered and economically hopeless Pakistan, grappling with an unprecedented and pernicious security situation on the Afghanistan frontier that had sucked in about one lakh troops, take a risk with the almost certain provocation to activate another front? Was it not suicidal?
The answer is that Pakistan could not have done it unless it was certain and had the assurance that the attack on Mumbai would remain localised and not end up into a full-scale conflagration. The assurance had to be from the quarters that had massive stakes in the evolving geopolitics of the region, i.e the US and vested interests in India.
It is again queer that the excessively vigilant, arguably paranoid officialdom of post-9\11 US, allowed Headley to visit India so frequently even after being warned by his American wife about his links with LeT in 2005 and subsequently in 2007 by his Moroccan wife who had stayed with him in the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai during his reconnaissance mission. It is pertinent to mention that it was only in 2006 that Headley had acquired this new name after all the years of existence as Daood Syed Gilani. It is also not possible that the US did not monitor Headley, considering the fact that he had been deployed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Pakistan since 2001 for surveillance of a job, which entailed constant updates to the controlling agency, the pay master. While the US agencies in general had warned India about a terrorist attack through the sea route, details about Headley were not shared. The least the US could have done to reward India for yet stretching its threshold was to extradite Headley. It is another matter that the US stopped at nothing in its retaliation to 9\11.
The Uncomfortable Conclusion
The sudden burst of exposures of Hindu Terror in weeks preceding 26\11; the deliberate obfuscation of the objective of the attack by the Indian Establishment; the stage, characters and enactment of 26\11; the persistent obduracy of inimical forces within India to abide by the script of Hindu terrorism in the aftermath; the ugly impatience in advocacy of increased reach-out to Pakistan after26\11; Musharraf’s unabashed ownership of ‘Kargil’ recently on the Indian soil as quid pro quo to 1971 war and Siachen; and the inexplicable visits of some Indian political leaders to Pakistan, lead to the compelling conclusion that the attack on Mumbai by Pakistan was to alter the course of rapidly evolving religious-politico discourse in India as a consequence of a series of terrorist attacks in the length and breadth of the country. For Pakistan, the imperative was sheer survival of the Jihadi network in India, therefore, the desperation to balance terror, at the same time some Indian political outfits, which perceived threat to their very survivability, seemingly made a common cause with Pakistan’s desperation.
To placate Indian sensibilities, AR Antulay, the Minister for Minority Affairs, was dropped from the Cabinet in December 2008 in the face of fierce political opposition to his outrageous suggestion that Hindutva elements were in league with Mumbai attackers to kill Karkare. The cable from the US embassy in India in this regard is extremely significant in its import. It said: “Compounding matters, the Congress Party after first distancing itself from the comments, two days later issued a contradictory statement, which implicitly endorsed the conspiracy. …The entire episode demonstrates that the Congress Party will readily stoop to the old caste\religious based politics if it feels it is in its interest.”
The broad contours of the conspiracy are clear and some minor contours may seem unresolved nevertheless 26\11 will, therefore, go down in history as one of the most conspiratorial wars for its vicious collusion.
By RSN Singh