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Friday, December 5, 2008

India’s Oklahoma City
By Mir Adnan Aziz • Dec 5th, 2008 • Category: Lead Story • 4 Comments
Christine Fair, South Asia analyst for RAND, suspects that the Mumbai terrorists are homegrown Indian militants, bearing grievances over the way India’s 140 million Muslims are treated by the Hindu majority. “This isn’t India’s 9/11,” she said. “This is India’s Oklahoma City.”
The attackers caught the Indian security forces oblivious and unprepared. “Till now, we were greeting Pakistan’s incompetence in dealing with terrorism with glee,” Bahukutumbi Raman, former head of counter terrorism, wrote after the MumIndia’s Oklahoma Citybai attacks. “We can no longer do so. We have become as clueless as Pakistan.”
Clueless as they were, it did not deter the Indian state officials, including the Prime Minister, of the sudden revelation of ISI sponsoring the attack. Their media, loath to be left behind, ratcheted up the ante by creating frenzy with a spate of accusations against Pakistan and what they termed the ‘rogue’ agency.
In its unseemly haste to maliciously malign Pakistan, it let go of all vestiges of sanity which such a sobering matter should have evoked. Pakistan is besotted by its own security nightmare. Could the ISI be foolhardy enough to send ’beer guzzling’ fidayeen with telltale satellite and mobile phones linking them to Pakistan, to be implicated in an attack as audaciously violent as this with risks of massive and immediate reprisals. It reminded one of a fidayeen attack in occupied Kashmir where the security personnel found a Sialkot cinema house ticket in one of the militants pocket!
The Mumbai attacks were a miserable failure of a host of Indian intelligence agencies led by their Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Their total focus on Pakistan and their brazenly overt involvement in Afghanistan has helped the home grown militants to operate with precision and impunity whenever and wherever they want. India now faces insurgencies from within in large swathes of its land.
India, the second largest Muslim country in the world, is not exactly a shining example of its much vaunted secularism and peaceful coexistence. The fault lines between Hindus versus Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and the multitude of other minorities run deep. If only one percent of India’s minorities are inclined to violence, we have a disenchanted force of millions of militants.
In order to make ‘India shining’ a multitude there failed. For many, lack of success means starvation and homelessness. It is famously said that half of the Mumbaikars sleep on footpaths. This is one of the causes of India’s home grown terrorism. Economic growth models look at absolute numbers and simply ignore equitable distribution.
Some Ambanis, Mithals and Tatas have been created at the cost of millions subjected to abject and absolute poverty. A few live in secluded opulence seemingly far away from the grinding poverty and infrastructural decay of large tracts of India. To paraphrase a comment by Nobel Prize winner and Indian born economist Amartya Sen: ”You cannot expect stability or prosperity from a society that is half Silicon Valley, half Sub-Saharan Africa”.
The greatest danger which India faces is the Maoist insurgency. They have gained strength by playing a key role in ending the Nepalese monarchy. Now India, in the cross-hairs, has its un-divided attention. Premier Manmohan Singh made a candid admission when he said: “The Naxal groups are targeting all aspects of economic activity including vital infrastructure so as to cripple transport and logistical capabilities and slow down any development. We cannot rest in peace until we have eliminated this virus”.
According to the Institute for Conflict Management, the Naxalites have now penetrated India’s major cities. Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute, says they are looking to encircle urban centers, find sympathy among students and the unemployed to create secret armed squads that will execute orders. Their targets are the two main industrialized belts that run along the Indian east and west coasts. It is estimated that there are 12,000 armed Naxalites plus 13,000 “sympathizers and workers”. This is no ragtag army but an organized force led by a central command staffed by educated people trained in guerrilla warfare.
Elements and gruesome events within India are a total negation of the myth of secularism it so lovingly preaches and glorifies. It is also naive of it not to expect a violent backlash from those who are victimized. In brutalized occupied Kashmir more than a hundred thousand have been martyred, tragically a whole generation done away with. Ironically it never features on the international radars which register numerous blips now that a couple of hundred, tragically, have lost their lives in Mumbai.
Documented figures show that the largest ’secular democracy’ of the world has the gruesome distinction of over 250,000 Sikhs murdered since 1984. This is according to the figures compiled by the Punjab State Magistracy and reported in the book ‘The Politics of Genocide’ by Inderjeet Singh Jaijee. The Indian Supreme Court termrd the Indian Government’s murders of Sikhs “worse than genocide”.
Militant Hindu nationalists affiliated with the militant, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), have reportedly sought to wipe out all traces of Christianity from Orissa and other parts of India. Asia News reports that the Sangh Parivar, another Hindu fundamentalist group has become more methodical. They prevent, sometimes with police assistance, Christians from meeting to pray, murder new converts and are trying to take over the land where churches and Christian homes once stood.
Other tragic fatalities include about 5,000 Muslims in Gujarat, more than 300,000 Christians in Nagaland and elsewhere since 1947. The never ending body count includes thousands of Bodos, Dalits, Assamese, Manipuris, Tamils and other minorities. Amnesty International reports that thousands of minority members are being held as political prisoners. The Babri Masjid was razed under state patronage whereas churches have been burned and Christian schools have been attacked. Nuns are raped and in Orissa missionary Graham Staines was burnt alive along with his two sons by a mob of militant Hindus chanting “Victory to Hannuman”.
Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit and Major Samir Kulkarniand are facing trial for the Samjhotha Express blasts. The blasts, as the routine goes, were blamed emphatically on the ISI but investigations proved otherwise. The two Indian army officers were arrested, another five including a Major General and two Colonels are under investigation. These are not rogue officers to be taken in isolation. Various reports have revealed that the Indian Army and intelligence agencies have been infiltrated to the highest ranks by such elements.
What anger can fill a youngster almost overnight and convince him to cast his youth and his future aside to kill and be killed? What is to be done if these men who expose the lie beneath “India shining”. Reportedly amongst the “The Indian Mujahideen” recruits are Muhammed Peerbhoy, a 31 year old principal software engineer from Pune, Muhammad Shakeel, a 24 year old, doing his Master’s in economics; Abdus Subhan Qureshi, a 36 year old, who works for an IT company in Mumbai; and Usman Agarbattiwala, a 25 year old, who ironically holds a post-graduate diploma in human rights.
India, to date, has been willfully blind because it has served its ends to present the problem of terrorism in India as exclusively “Pakistan / ISI sponsored”. They do not want to acknowledge their own complicity and the extent to which the world’s largest “secular democracy” has given rise to an increasingly jingoistic Hindu communalism. This is the breeding ground in which militancy has flourished and come home to roost.A word in the end for our leaders, masters of nothing but the faux-pas. With an elected parliament in place which sage advised them to immediately comply with belligerent summons of dispatching the ISI chief pro-bono Indian publico. Testing times when Indian war bugles resound, moreso to cover-up their own failings and pacifying the Indian public, call for grit and true statesmanship. If these are rare attributes it would be advisable for the leading duo to follow the age-old maxim - speech is silver but silence is gold.

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