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Karachi calling

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ZoneAsia-Pk

Urban violence has become a permanent affliction in Karachi. Anyone explaining the roots of this violence to you would say ‘it’s complicated’ – and that is indeed an accurate summary of the bloodshed that erupts across the city in random spurts. The plague of violence in Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial hub is multifaceted. From ethnic strife to gang wars to politically motivated crimes to just petty theft – Karachi has it all. Where does it start? And more importantly, where would it end?

This is strange because less merely 25 years, Karachi was the land of opportunity in Pakistan. Once the capital of the country, this economic hub bustled with life and activity with little thought spared to the horrors awaiting citizens a few years down the road. Fast forward to 2012, Karachi faces (in the words of Bilal Baloch) feeble security, over-population, poor public transportation and housing, weak law and order, abuse of public services by the wealthy and powerful, illegal land-grabbing and squatter settlements, pollution so pervasive that it contaminates food and water for all, ethnic divisions, sectarian divisions, meager education; in short, institutional inadequacies on a grand scale. At the same time, it is this city that allows unbridled port access to NATO, fishermen and businessmen. The city has seen the likes of Alexander the Great, Sir Charles Napier, Muhammad Bin Qasim, poets, authors, bloggers and artists. The City of Lights continues to function under such paradoxical circumstances, with violent bloodshed in one corner of the city and celebrations in another.

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Obama signs law barring Gitmo trials in US

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* Bill includes sections blocking funding for transfer of suspects from Gitmo to US

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama, in a setback to hopes for the quick closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison, reluctantly signed a bill on Friday barring suspects held there from being brought to the United States for trial.

Making plain he would fight to repeal language in the law obstructing civilian US trials for Guantanamo terrorism suspects, Obama said he was left with no choice but to sign the defence authorisation act for fiscal 2011.

“Despite my strong objection to these provisions, which my administration has consistently opposed, I have signed this act because of the importance of authorising appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011,” Obama said in a statement. Obama has vowed to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has drawn international condemnation for the treatment of detainees, but has met stiff resistance at home.

The bill includes sections blocking funding for the transfer of suspects from the Guantanamo prison to the United States. It also restricts the use of funds to ship them to other countries, unless specified conditions are met.

“The prosecution of terrorists in federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the nation and must be among the options available to us,” Obama said. “Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our nation’s counter-terrorism efforts.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the legislation Obama signed into law showed there was overwhelming bipartisan opposition to bringing Guantanamo detainees to the United States for trial and detention. “When it comes to terrorism, we should err on the side of protecting the American people,” McConnell said in a statement.

The provisions expire on September 30, at the end of the current fiscal year.

U.S. Approved Business With Blacklisted Nations

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By: JO BECKER

Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found.


An Iranian man shopping at a store in Tehran, where products from Dole, which has a sanctions exemptions, are sold.

At the behest of a host of companies – from Kraft Food and Pepsi to some of the nation’s largest banks – a little-known office of the Treasury Department has granted nearly 10,000 licenses for deals involving countries that have been cast into economic purgatory, beyond the reach of American business.

Most of the licenses were approved under a decade-old law mandating that agricultural and medical humanitarian aid be exempted from sanctions. But the law, pushed by the farm lobby and other industry groups, was written so broadly that allowable humanitarian aid has included cigarettes, Wrigley’s gum, Louisiana hot sauce, weight-loss remedies, body-building supplements and sports rehabilitation equipment sold to the institute that trains Iran’s Olympic athletes.

Hundreds of other licenses were approved because they passed a litmus test: They were deemed to serve American foreign policy goals. And many clearly do, among them deals to provide famine relief in North Korea or to improve Internet connections – and nurture democracy – in Iran. But the examination also found cases in which the foreign-policy benefits were considerably less clear.

In one instance, an American company was permitted to bid on a pipeline job that would have helped Iran sell natural gas to Europe, even though the United States opposes such projects. Several other American businesses were permitted to deal with foreign companies believed to be involved in terrorism or weapons proliferation. In one such case, involving equipment bought by a medical waste disposal plant in Hawaii, the government was preparing to deny the license until an influential politician intervened.

In an interview, the Obama administration’s point man on sanctions, Stuart A. Levey, said that focusing on the exceptions “misses the forest for the trees.” Indeed, the exceptions represent only a small counterweight to the overall force of America’s trade sanctions, which are among the toughest in the world. Now they are particularly focused on Iran, where on top of a broad embargo that prohibits most trade, the United States and its allies this year adopted a new round of sanctions that have effectively shut Iran off from much of the international financial system.

“No one can doubt that we are serious about this,” Mr. Levey said.

But as the administration tries to press Iran even harder to abandon its nuclear program – officials this week announced several new sanctions measures – some diplomats and foreign affairs experts worry that by allowing the sale of even small-ticket items with no military application, the United States muddies its moral and diplomatic authority.

“It’s not a bad thing to grant exceptions if it represents a conscious policy decision to give countries an incentive,” said Stuart Eizenstat, who oversaw sanctions policy for the Clinton administration when the humanitarian-aid law was passed. “But when you create loopholes like this that you can drive a Mack truck through, you are giving countries something for nothing, and they just laugh in their teeth. I think there have been abuses.”

What’s more, in countries like Iran where elements of the government have assumed control over large portions of the economy, it is increasingly difficult to separate exceptions that help the people from those that enrich the state. Indeed, records show that the United States has approved the sale of luxury food items to chain stores owned by blacklisted banks, despite requirements that potential purchasers be scrutinized for just such connections.

Enforcement of America’s sanctions rests with Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which can make exceptions with guidance from the State Department. The Treasury office resisted disclosing information about the licenses, but after The Times filed a federal Freedom of Information lawsuit, the government agreed to turn over a list of companies granted exceptions and, in a little more than 100 cases, underlying files explaining the nature and details of the deals. The process took three years, and the government heavily redacted many documents, saying they contained trade secrets and personal information. Still, the files offer a snapshot – albeit a piecemeal one – of a system that at times appears out of sync with its own licensing policies and America’s goals abroad.

In some cases, licensing rules failed to keep pace with changing diplomatic circumstances. For instance, American companies were able to import cheap blouses and raw material for steel from North Korea because restrictions loosened when that government promised to renounce its nuclear weapons program and were not recalibrated after the agreement fell apart.

India’s Mythical Beliefs……

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By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Indians believe a lot in myth making. They derive pleasure in pretending what they are not. Governed by the yearning desire to be called a big power, they have been making strenuous efforts to fulfill their dream. After achieving a so-called military victory in former East Pakistan in 1971 with the help of former Soviet Union and Mukti Bahini, the Indians started imagining that India had become mini-super power of South Asia. To put a stamp on self-perceived status, it conducted nuclear test in 1974 but got dismayed when it found Pakistan not getting over awed.

While India never reconciled to Pakistan’s existence and vied to re-absorb it within Indian union, Pakistan’s defiance and refusal to accept India as a regional policeman further antagonized Indian leaders. In sheer disgust India judged Pakistan as the main stumbling block in its drive towards attaining its ambitions. Armed freedom struggle by few thousand Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir against 750,000 Indian troops became a cause of degradation and embarrassment for India.

Once India came close to USA after 1990, it kept on playing upon US-western sensitivities concerning Islamic fundamentalism, cross border terrorism and Islamic bomb so as to keep Pakistan in their bad books. Nuclear tests by Pakistan threw cold water on its sinister designs. After suffering humiliation in the battle of Kargil in 1999, Indian leaders burnt with impotent rage and yearned to teach Pakistan a lesson. After 9/11 their joys knew no bounds since the new rules framed by USA to tackle terrorism suited them the most. They found the farce of terrorism a perfect stranglehold to entrap Pakistan and macerate it.

However, its first attempt to browbeat Pakistan into submission through 2002 military standoff backfired. It had cost Indian exchequer over $2 billion and nearly 800 fatalities without any side firing a single shot. Indian military kept posturing belligerently from January till October 2002 but seeing equally aggressive response of the other side, it couldn’t pick up courage to cross the border. The thought of nuclear exchange was too scary despite the fact that it enjoyed 5:1 conventional superiority and also had three times more nukes in stock. Ultimately Indian forces had to sheepishly withdraw thereby giving Pakistan, ten times smaller in size and resources moral and psychological ascendancy over India. It was too frustrating for Indian leaders claiming to be strongest military power of South Asia and an economic power house to have been humbled by a peripheral state.

The fiasco made Indian military realize that given Pakistan’s nuclear capability and will to fight, conventional war was ruled out as a viable option. Earlier on, it could not browbeat Pakistan in 1986-87 through its Exercise Brass-tacks or its 1990 offensive deployment in Kashmir. In all the previous wars and offensive military standoffs, 19-20 days taken to mobilize the combat troops from peacetime stations to forward deployment areas had allowed Pakistan sufficient reaction time to assemble and move forward its troops to meet the challenge. Hence another way out had to be found.

Taking a leaf out of their Guru Kautilya’s book, the Indian planners reread his guidelines which had been successfully employed after the inconclusive 1965 Indo-Pak war to subvert former East Pakistan. Indo-US-Israeli think tank got together in late 2002 and scratched their heads how to ensnare Pakistan. A way had to be found out how to floor Pakistan without letting it brandish its nukes in defence.

It was decided that India will lure Pakistan into a web of friendship, weaken it from within through cultural invasion from the east and covert operations from Afghan soil. Intelligence agencies of USA, Israel, UK, Germany and Afghanistan were to assist RAW. India was to apply the military instrument only after making Pakistan morally, politically, economically and militarily sufficiently weak and extracting its nuclear teeth.

It was in the context of Pakistan’s nuclear capability and Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine envisaging first strike option in any future Indo-Pak war whenever its threshold was threatened which perplexed the planners. All agreed to defame and demonize Pakistan’s nuclear program through an orchestrated propaganda war and to work out number of contingency plans how to disable or steal the nukes.

During the course of heated discussions, some wise guy came up with a bright idea that if Pakistan’s nuclear response rested on the basis of its core areas getting threatened or overrun, why not to tailor the offensive in a manner that invading forces remain well away from the core areas and to confine the war to battle of frontiers thereby giving no justification to Pakistan to exercise its nuclear option.

Scanning the map of Pakistan, it was pointed out by Indian planners that there were several tactical objectives of politico-economic significance strung along the border. In their reckoning there were 8-15 such objectives available. To offset the problem of prolonged mobilization time and to retain vital element of surprise, someone suggested pre-positioning brigade size mechanized battle groups backed by dedicated artillery and air support close to the border. They brainstormed that Pakistan lacking in strategic depth could ill afford to lose any space and as such would respond with full force to retake the lost objectives. It was perceived that tactical and operational reserves of Pak Army in all likelihood would get consumed and its strategic reserves would get poised towards most threatened penetration. With bulk of Pak Army getting embroiled in battle of frontiers and up to three corps stuck up in war on terror, it would allow Indian Army to launch its main maneuver if required towards deeper objectives.

That is how Cold Start doctrine was conceived; work on the new doctrine commenced in real earnest and the first draft was ready in 2004. It envisaged cutting down mobilization period from 19 days to 72 hours by pre-positioning 8-15 self-sufficient battle groups of two armored regiments and one mechanized infantry regiment or vice versa close to the border and each group assigned shallow objectives of tactical importance. By end 2008 it was polished up and was ready for use. Point of nuclear overhang as mentioned by Gen Kapoor figured out since the doctrine envisaged giving control of tactical nuclear weapons to the operational commander in the field so as to be able to clear any opposition putting up stubborn resistance.

With the passage of time as the misfortunes of Pakistan’s multiplied because of covert operations jointly launched by six intelligence agencies from Afghanistan, it pleased India immensely and it animatedly imagined that Pakistan’s fragmentation was round the corner. Indian leaders got so euphoric and megalomaniac that they began imagining India to be next to USA in the world ranking. Already living in the world of fantasy and strongly believing in myths and notions, they started humming tunes of ‘India shining’ and ‘India an economic powerhouse’.

India was well set to put Cold Start doctrine into practice by end 2008/beginning 2009 since in its view the situation had become ripe to strike the internally enfeebled foe militarily. By then, covert war by anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies had done extensive damage. Over 100,000 troops had got irretrievably involved in fighting the militants in the northwest and Pak Army’s image had sunk low. Mumbai attacks were stage-managed to put Pakistan in the dock and to give an excuse to Indian strike formations to move forward. Forceful response by Pak armed forces, speedy pullout of formations from northwest to eastern border to restore defensive balance, enthusiastic support given by the nation to the forces and above all Pakistani Taliban’s announcement that they would fight the aggressors shoulder to shoulder with the Army and that they would send its suicide bombers into India deflated the jingoism of Indian military under Kapoor. Like in 2002, its second standoff also ended in humiliating withdrawal.

The plot makers held an emergent meeting and it was decided to further intensify propaganda war to build up a perception that Pakistan had become the most dangerous place on earth and its nukes were unsafe and posed a threat to world safety. It was also decided to step up acts of terror in all major cities of Pakistan through their agents and paid terrorists, and to force Pakistan to launch military operation against militant’s strongest positions in Bajaur, Swat and in South Waziristan. Pakistan specific Af-Pak policy was framed to convert Pak-Afghan border into a single battleground. While India was to mount relentless pressure on Pakistan by blaming that it was involved in Mumbai attacks, the US-NATO from the other end was to adopt an aggressive posture by insisting that it intended to operate inside FATA. Drone attacks against suspected targets in Waziristan were also to be accelerated. It was hoped that multiple actions would create conducive conditions for Indian military to launch the limited war by close of 2009.

Gen Kapoor living in the world of fantasy kept the temperature high by threatening to launch a limited attack under nuclear overhang. Without being provoked, he got so worked up that he made the whole world giggle when he boasted that his Army could bulldoze its way through the combined armies of China and Pakistan. One wonders, what’s stopping him from bailing out US-NATO in great distress by making minced meat of dreaded Taliban. His battle groups deployed in isolation along the border got tired of idling and started doubting the wisdom of impractical and mythical Cold Start doctrine which didn’t make any sense. They dread the call for a sudden plunge into the mouths of hungry sharks lying in waiting.

Pakistan Army on the other hand took the threat of limited war in a nuclear scenario dispassionately and prepared a wholesome response to nip the evil in the bud whenever it tried to sprout up. Glaring flaws in the new scheme provided grist for humor in uniform. When Indian Army could not deliver, feeling upset the RAW launched series of terrorist group attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi to give vent to its frustration.

Ominous schemes worked out by Pakistan’s adversaries got a severe blow as a consequence to Pak Army gaining a decisive edge over militants after achieving outstanding successes in Bajaur, Swat and South Waziristan in quick succession. This development coupled with the security situation in Afghanistan getting out of control of occupation forces at the dawn of 2010 changed the whole complexion and put the schemers on the back foot. It compelled the US to start leaning on Pakistan rather than on India.

Pakistan Army instead of getting weakened has become more robust, professional and is well led and has maintained its defensive and offensive balance. Its mettle in war on terror and UN missions has been widely acclaimed by the world. Gen Kayani proved his mental calibre at the largely attended meeting of NATO at Brussels. It was for the first time that a non-NATO officer had this privilege to address the august gathering and he deeply impressed them. For full one year he has been resisting the pressure of USA to mount an operation in North Waziristan which is laudable.

The ISI is looked at with awe and envy. Single-handed it has successfully battled with world’s six most advanced intelligence agencies and has frustrated their designs. In the recently held Cambrian Patrol exercise organized by British Army in Wales in October, which is considered to be the world’s toughest exercise and in which teams from all over the world including India took part, the team of 35 FF in which I had served stood first and won the gold medal. Three cheers to the winners who have made us all proud.

With the induction of AWACs, JF-17 jet fighters, new batch of F-16 CD model jets, the PAF is feeling much more confident. With balanced ratio of hard hitting submarines and surface warships and improved early warning means and naval air arm, the navy too is in high spirits. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intact and its wide arrays of guided missiles including cruise missiles are much superior to Indian missiles. Gen Shamim Wyne is an excellent choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee who surely will further refurbish inter-services coordination and cooperation as well as the nuclear set up. Pakistan armed forces imbued with high pitched zeal do not believe in myths but have complete faith in Almighty Allah. They are focused on India and are well poised to take on the Indian challenge.

Indian parliament attack – what it achieved for India

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By Momin Iftikhar

It might have been overshadowed by the Mumbai terrorist strike in Nov 2008 but attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 Dec 2001, on all accounts, remains a watershed in the jerky evolution of Indo-Pak relations, particularly in shaping the course of the Kashmir resistance movement. With the only accused awarded death penalty still awaiting the disposal of his mercy petition, the nine year old incident in which five unidentified gunmen attacked the building of the Indian Parliament, remains a happening thing, yet to be finally wrapped up.

All the five attackers were killed during the attack while four persons were arrested on charges of abetting the attackers as facilitators. These included Mohammad Afzal, a former JKLF militant who had surrendered in 1994, his cousin Shaukat Hussain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afsan Guru and SA R Gilani, a lecturer of Arabic at the Delhi University. After a year of trial a POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) Court found all four guilty; awarding death sentence to men while Afsan was given five years’ rigorous imprisonment. On appeal the Delhi High Court acquitted Professor SA.R. Gilani and Afsan Guru on 29 Oct 2003 due to absence of incriminating evidence while upholding the death sentence for the remaining two. The case was raised to the Supreme Court, which in its verdict on Aug 3, 2005 lifted the death sentence for Shaukat leaving him with an imprisonment of ten years while confirming the death sentence for Afzal Guru. It is Afzal, the ultimate fall guy of the incident, who awaits the hangman’s noose pending the disposal of his mercy petition by the President of India for the sixth year running.

Coming within hundred days of the September 11 strike, the Parliament attack seemed fortuitous from an Indian foreign policy perspective; tightly following a well scripted narrative. Two aspects had made this charade compelling for India. First, the Taliban rout by US had opened new vistas for exploitation for India in its search for a foothold in Afghanistan. A marked Indian advantage was the coming to power of an anti Taliban Government in Kabul, lifted into saddle by authority of UN-sponsored conference in Bonn, Germany. The new leadership comprised primarily of the Northern Alliance elements- a motley assortment of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara warlords whose desperate survival in face of the Taliban onslaught had only been made possible by a no-holds-barred Indo-Iranian support. Pakistan’s west flank stood exposed and India was bent upon making most of the unexpected opportunity by exploiting Pakistan’s proximity to the Taliban to project it as sponsor of terrorism.

Second; India wanted to use the windfall opportunity to paint the freedom struggle in Kashmir with the broad red brush of terrorism. Pakistan’s emergence as an indispensable US partner in the war on terror in Afghanistan didn’t augur well for the Indian designs. There was a need to not only shift the international anti terrorist spotlight on Pakistan itself but also on the Kashmir specific militant organizations whose claims to represent the internationally sanctioned cause of self determination bestowed upon them the status of freedom fighters – a mantle which chagrined India much.

Once the parliament attack materialized India developed the scenario with the alacrity of a preplanned war game. Within hours it had accused ISI – and Pakistan Government of complicity without the benefit of any supporting evidence. For the first time in thirty years it recalled its ambassador to Pakistan. It also ended rail and bus service between the two countries and banned Pakistani commercial aircraft use of India air space. In a most alarming gesture it started the mobilization of troops within a week of the incident along the entire 1800 miles border between the two countries, confronting Pakistan with the largest ever hostile concentration of forces.

The ratcheting up of the coercive diplomacy yielded tangible results for India. On 26 December the US responded by the addition of LeT and JeM, both Kashmir centric militant organizations, to a State Department list of “designated terrorist organizations” – a momentous step that Washington had apparently been trying to avoid. This US action reinforced India’s long sought position that supporting the Kashmiri armed struggle was illegitimate. As summarized by the New York Times; “Pakistan after 50 years of battling India over Kashmir, must now abandon the armed struggle there and rely hence forth on political means of confronting India.”

To divest the Kashmiri armed struggle of its indigenous moorings the term “cross border terrorism” began to circulate immediately following the attack and became inseparable component of any Indian diplomatic interaction related to Kashmir Issue. It is worth recalling that till then Indians had not referred to decade long uprising in Kashmir as terrorism. The Lahore Declaration signed by Indian Premier Vajpaee bears ample testimony to this fact. But following 9/11 the world changed and the line separating freedom struggle from terrorism had vanished, providing India with a great opportunity to project itself as a victim of terrorism instead of being an unabashed oppressor of Kashmiri population.

Immediately following the parliament attack India unleashed a reign of terror to break the back of Kashmiri resistance. To drive home the ‘victim of terror syndrome’, it managed to airlift hundreds of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan jails and used them as clay pigeons to conduct fake encounters in IHK; cashing in on India’s long association with Northern Alliance warlords, now in power in Kabul. The trend become deeply embedded in the Indian army culture whereby fake encounters in Kashmir have become the short cut for the up and coming ambitious Indian army officers intent upon securing a promising career.

India accused Pakistan for it and treated the attack on the Indian parliament as a casus belli; taking the subcontinent to the brink of a war. It would be interesting, though, to note as to what the Indian judicial system found out after four years of deliberations. The Indian Supreme Court, in its verdict of Aug 2005 cast aside charges of a ‘Pakistani Connection’; throwing overboard the story of conspiracy linking ISI, Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Ghazi Baba, Tariq, and the rest. All that the judgment refers to is that five unidentified armed men attacked Indian parliament and died, and that Mohammad Afzal participated in the conspiracy. Sadly, this aspect has gone unnoticed in India by design and the world at large by default.

Conflating Hinduism and Hindutva

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By Subhash Gatade

I.

Mr Mohan Bhagwat, the ‘young’ Supremo of an eighty plus year old exclusively male cultural organisation called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is in high spirits these days.

It is not very difficult to understand the glee on his face which has to do with the latest developments in the cause celibre of Sangh Parivar . One can even notice that every member of this different kind of ‘family’ also seem to be upbeat , whose representatives can be traced on neighbourhood playground in the morning doing drills, playing games or listening to ‘sermons’ of their seniors which they call Baudhik .

The Ayodhya verdict which deliberated on the sixty plus year old legal dispute over the title of a piece of land where a mosque stood for the last five hundred years and which was demolished by hordes of gangs inspired by the ideas which the Sangh Parivar still espouses has in fact come as a blessing in disguise for Mr Bhagwat. While every peace and justice loving person felt betrayed with the judgement which neither mentioned the criminal act of demolition of the Mosque, or the blows it gave to the Indian Constitution and the crude manner in which it rediscoverd virtues of faith, it has emboldened the Parivar which had never felt comfortable with the rule of law enshrined in the constitution. Any cursory glance at the making of the constitution provides details of the manner in which the then leaders of Project Hindutva opposed the whole process and wanted that newly independent nation adopt Manusmriti – the code of conduct of the Hindus scripted by Manu -in its place. From time to time their fascination for Manu’s edicts , which supports hierarchial division of society based on caste and gender which denies basic human rights to wider populace, has been visible in very many ways. It was not for nothing that when BJP, one of the affiliated organisation of RSS came to power at the centre twelve years ago, it did not waste much time in appointing a commission to review the constitution. Although they could not tinker with it as they lacked necessary majority but still they made their intentions clear.

As any neutral observer would be able to tell that apart from the ‘vindication’ of their ideas the verdict has solved many of the immediate problems facing the Parivar. Gone is the talk of disarray in the fraternity with every other affiliated organisation trying to put blame on the other for the dip in their collective fortunes, gone also is the defensive posture which the RSS had to adopt when recently many of its ‘wholetimers’ (called Pracharaks in their lexicon) were found to be involved in terrorist acts, with sleuths of different investigating agencies raiding their houses and parading these Pracharak terrorists hooded like common criminals. In fact the situation seemed so serious that in June the top leadership of RSS assembled for a five day emergency meeting in Jodhpur to deliberate on the whole situation. Anyone can guess that the overall mood within the Parivar was quite gloomy. The verdict has altered the scene completely. Sensing this opportunity when secular-democratic camp has gone on defensive and is contemplating next line of action, like a true general Mr Bhagwat has decided to strike back. Basing himself on the ageold maxim ‘Offence is the Biggest Defence’ he seems to have decided to take the plunge to take the battle to the camp of ‘pseudoseculars’ themselves.

One is reminded of the manner in which Balasaheb Deoras, the third Supremo of RSS went round the country claiming victory ( Jitam Maya – We have won) after the emergency was over (1977) and Janata Party had come to power. The high moral posture adopted by the likes of Deoras about the ‘valiant struggle by the RSS against Emergency’ did not last long when it was disclosed that the same Deoras had written long letters to Indira Gandhi and tried to persuade Vinoba Bhave to mediate so that ban on Sangh is lifted. The Sangh leadership had even directed thousands of its volunteers/activists lodged in different jails to give an undertaking to the jail authorities assuring them ‘good behaviour’ if they are released from jail. ( For details of the correspondence readers may refer to ‘RSS by D.R. Goyal, Rajkamal, Delhi )

II.

Terrorism, Hindus are oxymoron: Mohan Bhagwat

17 October 2010 , press trust of india

Nagpur, 17 OCT: Taking strong exception to the use of the term ‘saffron or Hindu terror’, RSS chief Mr Mohan Bhagwat today said terrorism and Hindus are “oxymoron” and can never be linked to each other.

“There is only one country left in the world on which you can’t put the blame of terrorism and that country is India . Terrorism and Hindus, terrorism and saffron, and terrorism and the Sangh are oxymoron and can never be related to each other.

“This (effort to connect the two) was an attempt to weaken the strength of Hindus in India and, at the same time, to appease Muslims, he said ..addressing the annual Dussehra rally at Reshim Bagh ground here. …”These are sinister conspiracies to mislead the Hindus through a campaign of lies and defame Hindu saints and noble citizens,”

Close watchers of RSS know the long tradition within the organisation wherein the Supremo gives a speech on its foundation day (i.e. Dusshera) which is supposed to be a guideline to all the affiliated organisations – ranging from the parliamentary to the extraparliamentary ones . Newspapers tell us that during his speech on the Reshim bagh ground in Nagpur Mr Bhagwat basically raised three points in his speech: One, he welcomed the Ayodhya verdict and hoped that the day is not far off when they would build a ‘Grand Ram Temple’ at Ayodhya ; two, he talked of deteriorating situation in Kashmir and emphasised that coming months it would on the focus of the Parivar ; thirdly, he said that Hindus and terrorism are oxymorons and whosoever is calling Hindus terrorists is stigmatising the whole community.

Nobody can deny that Ayodhya and Kashmir are important issues and every social-political formation will have to devise its own strategy for intervention. And looking at the difference in world view, any truly democratic and secular intervention would be qualitatively different from what Mr Bhagwat’s boys intend to do as part of their ‘nationalist’ duties. Not some time ago RSS had devised a unique plan to tackle the Kashmir situation by suggesting to trifurcate it on religious lines – Leh for Buddhists, Jammu for Hindus and Kashmir for Muslims. It is a different matter that this divisive plan did not get any support from the rest of the polity despite the Saffron dispensation holding the reins of power at the centre.

It is not much difficult to see that the highlight of the speech is the new wisdom which has dawned on Mr Bhagwat. that Hindus and terrorism are oxymorons. Definitely it would soothe the egos of many among the community who have no qualms in rationalising incidents like Gujarat genocide or Kandhamal riots or attacks on Churches or forcible separation of two adults belonging to different religious communities supposedly to defend community honour.

Coming to this new found thesis which emphasises incompatibility of Hindus with terrorism one wishes to ask Mr Bhagwat whether he or his organisation has made any new discoveries as far as the religious affiliations of the first terrorist of independent India called Nathuram Godse is concerned, whose band of terrorists included Madanlal Pahwa, Karkare, Parchure and several others. The same Nathuram who cut his political teeth in the RSS shakhas only and later focussed on his work on the Hindu Mahasabha front. Interestingly during his trial Nathuram formally said that he had left RSS in 1933, but in an interview to the magazine ‘Frontline’ in late 90 s his younger brother Gopal Godse, who was also part of the conspiracy specifically said that none of the brothers ever left RSS. When the reporter asked him pointedly why Nathuram ‘lied’ about his dissociation, pat came the reply : To save the organisation from harassment.

It has been on record that there were five attempts on Mahatma Gandhi’s life during his life time and the last one proved fatal. It is revealing to know that Hindu fanatics were involved in all these attempts who were eager to eliminate the Mahatma – for many ‘the biggest Hindu of 20 th century’.

Of course, it is possible that for many among the Hindu right who yearn to build a Hindu Rashtra of their dreams the death of the Mahatma was not a terrorist act rather it was a ‘patriotic act’. It is an open secret that every year many from the hindu right do celebrate the day Nathuram was hanged as ‘Martyrs day’? And it is not a Pune specific phenomenon where Nathuram lived. A narco analysis of those involved in the Nanded bomb explosion (April 2006) which saw the deaths of Himanshu Panse and Rajeev Rajkondwar – both activists of RSS/Bajrang Dal – tells us how these ‘patriots of a different kind’ use to organise programmes on this day.

And what about Savarkar the pioneer of the idea of Hindutva who escaped conviction in the case of Mahatma’s assasination only on technical grounds. It is a different matter that the Kapoor commission which was formed in the sixties to look into the conspiracy angle of Mahatma Gandhi’s assasination – where many fresh witnesses to the case appeared – rightly concluded that Savarkar was very much a part of that conspiracy. And why did these fanatics killed him, only because Gandhi was trying to practice Hinduism in his own way. And so when independence came, this frail old man – who was called ‘One Man Boundary Force’ by the then Governor General for singlehandedly bringing peace to strifetorn Calcutta by resorting to fast unto death – did not join the celebrations but rather was touring Noakhali to console, help people affected by riots.

While the role played by Hindu fanatics in Mahatma’s assasination is widely known, not much has been written on the bomb blast in Shikarpur area of Karachi at the time of independence which witnessed deaths of two Sangh Pracharaks namely Vasudev and Prabhu Badlani. Their third accomplice was apprehended by the Pakistani police and had to languish in their jail for quite some time. And how come there was a bomb blast in the residential area in a house owned by one Raibahadur Tolaram which was rented by the RSS people supposedly to run tuitions for kids ? (RSS in Sindh, Economic and Political Weekly, 8 July 2006 ) The plan hatched by a 21 member team of RSS workers was to organise bomb blasts in different places in Karachi and kill as many people as possible. The house served the purpose of storing bombs. Police records reveal that the explosion was so severe that the whole house came literally crumbling down. Anderson and Damle who have penned down a monograph on the Sangh Journey ‘Brotherhood in Saffron’ also provide details of the incident. Perhaps Mr Bhagwat can get few more details of the case from Lal Krishna Advani, who was looking after the work of Sangh in the area. It need to be investigated further whether Mr Advani was in the know of things or not ?

To be very frank, one can quote n number of other examples which can help puncture Mr Bhagwat’s argument that ‘Hindus cannot be terrorists’. The exposure in the Malegaon bomb blast case (Sept 2008) which brought to the fore an elaborate national network of terrorists involving military officers like Lt Col Purohit, religious people like Swami Dayanand Pandey or for that matter Sadhvi Pragya or the likes of Dr R.P Singh, Himani Savarker or RSS activists like Ramji Kalasangra, Aseemanand or Sunil Joshi ( killed by his own people) or the actions by Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samity like putting explosives and bombs in crowded places just goes to show that contrary to popular perceptions Hindus can be found to be equally involved in such anti-human actions.

One need not go into details of every incident but the point worth underlining is that terrorism cannot be the sole preserve of a this or that community. One can find terrorists in every community and also sane elements in every community. Just as there are good people or bad people in every community, there are fanatics or sane elements in every community.

Singling out a particular community for the ills of society or for negative traits reflects what is popularly known as a communal understanding of society. Today’s multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual and multireligious world where the world seems to becoming a global village such an outlook definitely sound at variance with the growing intermingling of people, communities, cultures.

Nobody can deny that post 9/11 developments have contributed a lot to further strengthen a warped understanding of history. The manner in which US declared ‘War Against Terror’ as a new strategem to further its influence and gain legitimacy for its criminal actions, effectively got reduced to stigmatising and targetting people, formations or countries owning allegiance to Islam. It was a sheer coincidence that BJP an affiliated organisation of RSS was in power at the centre when US rulers unleashed the ‘war against terror’. Looking back one can say that there was deep resonance between what Bush regime wanted and what was on offer for them here.

III.

The ‘thesis of oxymoron’ has shades of the concept of Supreme Hindu Race emanating from it. In fact it can also be interpreted as an indirect admission that whereas Hindus and terrorism are incompatible with each other terrorism easily gels with all non-Hindu communities. Definitely it is a very dangerous statement not only because it tries to denigrate every other community, it tries to pass on blame to others. It can thus be seen as a poor attempt to deflect attention from the n number of crimes committed by Hindu fanatics.

To avoid confusion of any sort when we are discussing crimes of Hindu fanatics then it should in no way construed as one is soft towards the crimes of Islamic fanatics or Christian fanatics or similar faith based fanaticisms. Fanaticism of every kind needs to be condemned in every possible manner. In fact, history is witness to the fact that religion based fanaticism has killed more innocent people than any other social catastrophe.

Surprisingly Mr Bhagwat’s speech also conveys the deliberate conflation of two distinct terms : Hinduism and Hindutva. According to him all those people who talk of Hindu terrorism are trying to denigrate the whole community. It cannot be denied that few people did describe the role of Hindu fanatics in terrorist operation as ‘Hindu terrorism’. But a large majority of the critics avoided describing it in this fashion and instead talked of Hindutva terrorism.which seems to be a more accurate description of the phenomenon.

All those people who are not aware of the debates in the movement would feel that what is the big difference between Hindu terrorism and Hindutva terrorism. Perhaps it would be better to refer to a book by Savarkar, who is considered to be a pioneer of the Hindu Right or ‘Hindu nationalist movement’. This monograph which is named ‘Hindutva’ has reached classic status and lays down the guiding principles of the idea.

What does the monograph say ? Its key contribution is the way in which it differentiates between Hinduism and Hindutva :

Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. Unless it is made clear what is meant by the latter, the first remains unintelligible and vague.Failure to distinguish between these two terms has given rise to much misunderstanding and mutual suspicion between some of those sister communities that have inherited this inestimable and common treasure of Hindu civilisation.[..] Here it is enough to point out that Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system. But when we attempt to investigate into the essential significance of Hindutva, we do not primarily and certainly not mainly concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed. Had not linguistic usage stood in our way, then ‘Hinduness’ would have certainly been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva. Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole being our our Hindu race[..] It is imperative to point out that we are by no means attempting a definition or even a description of the more limited, less satisfactory and essentially sectarian term Hinduism.

(V. D. Savarkar, Hindutva ( Delhi : Bharti Sahitya Sadan, 1989 ; sixth edition}, 3-4)

It is imperative that before getting confused with what Mr Bhagwat wants to convey , it would be definitely helpful if one refers to this classic monograph and understand for herself / himself that when we say Hindutva terror then it is does not at all mean all those people who have deep faith in principles of Hinduism. Just as Islam and Political Islam cannot be considered equivalent, Hinduism and Hindutva cannot be measured on the same scale.

Looking at the emphasis on action as opposed to contemplation (which involves reading also) in the whole Hinduva movement, it can easily be presumed that a large majority of those people who today owe their allegiance to the ideas of Savarkar, Hedgewar and Golwalkar and who want India to usher into Hindu Rashtra must not have bothered to even read Savarkar’s monograph. And this cannot be said to be an exaggeration There have been instances when RSS-BJP people had to withdraw books which were published under their own aegis or withdraw articles from textbooks which they themselves had ratified.

A newsitem is worth taking note of :

Mystery surrounds the sudden withdrawal of one of the 16 volumes of an official account of the Jana Sangh-BJP history, four months after it was released as part of the silver jubilee celebrations in Mumbai. The series, written by historian Makhan Lal under the supervision of senior BJP leader J P Mathur, carry a foreword by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani. (Indian Express, 9 th May 2006)

But perhaps the Orissa experience truly shows the mental abilities of the plethora of activists of the Hindutva brigade who needed around five years to notice ‘discrepancy’ in a textbook when the person in charge of education department was a hardcore RSS pracharak called Samir Dey himself. It was the period when BJP was sharing power with Biju Janata Dal.

In its report on its front page captioned ‘In NDA Orissa, a textbook equates BJP with Lashkar’ (Indian Express, Delhi, 2 nd February 2007) the paper gave details about the manner in which a textbook on ‘Indian Polity’ for second-year degree students in Orissa clubbed Lashkar-e-Toiba with BJP. According to the report

The chapter on the ‘Existence of Terrorist Organisation’ says : “Terrorist organisations create tension in the country. Communal parties like the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, Hurriyat Conference and Lashkar-e-Toiba are responsible for fomenting violence..leading to the killing of hundreds in the country and especially Kashmir .”

It is worth noting that the said textbook – which was written by one Amarendra Mohanty and Shyama Charan Mohanty, teachers of political science was taught since 2003. The matter could come to light only after a BJP worker in Salepur, about 60 KM from the state capital, noticed it and lodged a FIR. And as expected to remove the egg on its face members of the Hindutva brigade did lot of things which can be bracketed as ‘taking law into their hands.’

Mr Bhagwat who is in high spirits these days, would do his organisation a great favour if he could inculcate some reading habits in his people who believe more in action.

650 Indians put on Interpol’s wanted list

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NEW DELHI: The number of Indians or people of Indian origin on Interpol’s ‘wanted’ list is on the rise with 656 of them getting red-alert notices in little over five years.

The global crime monitoring organisation has issued 656 red-alert notices against Indians or people of Indian origin between January 2005 and May 2010, generally for crimes committed in countries other than India.

A highest of 150 red notices were issued last year while the number stood at 75 in the first five months of this year.

Many of these wanted people are involved in acts of terrorism or serious crimes like rape of a minor.

A red alert or red corner notice obliges immigration and police forces of all member countries to arrest the person concerned and inform the authorities in his home country, or the country where the crime was committed.

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 188 member countries.

A total of 133 notices wee issued in 2007 while the number stood at 119 in 2006.

About 85 such notices were drawn in 2008 and 94 others in 2005, the CBI, which acts as a nodal agency for international policing in India, said in reply to an RTI query.

The countries where the largest number of offences have been reported include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, USA, Hong Kong, Russia, Belarus, Egypt, Australia and Belgium.

The offences include money laundering, tax evasion, sexual harassment, disrupting railway traffic, mail fraud and demanding dowry. At least 25 per cent of the offences relate to overspeeding and road accidents.

Exercising his Right to Information, Ashwini Shrivastava had asked for details of red alert notice issued against people of Indian origin in the past five years including the details of offences.

One of the Interpol notices names Haji Ibrahim Salim for alleged involvement in a terrorist act, Shaikh Anwar for allegedly waging war against a country, Kochipeedikayil Shabeerkayil, Sabir Kochipeedikayil and Nazir Thadipeedikayil for planting an explosive, Shaja Khan for allegedly planting a bomb and Iqbal Bhatkal for his alleged involvement in unlawful activities, it said.