Tuesday, July 15, 2008
After independence the politicisation of service and the breakdown in command structure reduced the same police organization to one of servitude and partisan misbehaviour. Senior IPS officers are shifted unceremoniously for political reasons. More significantly, the police are acting at the behest of politicians in selectively harassing or assisting people due to their opposition or links to the other politicians. No more are its investigations and detections accepted by the Indian society as they reek of political influences. Whether it is the changing accusations in Best Bakery case, the Hawala case, the Telgi stamp matter or even the never ending saga of Bofors, Indian police investigators, including the CBI, all have sullied hands. Even in cases where investigations have been done professionally, the conclusions have not been without question, like the Rajiv Gandhi murder case.
There are several lessons for the Indian police from this sorry episode. The quick and conclusive investigation is something that the police in India needs to learn. Ironically, there was a time when the famed Indian Police [IP] officer was admired in British police circles. Anyone serving in the IP, an 'Indian hand', was considered at par with the best in the world and their reputation reverberated far into the British empire. Their ability to handle complex law and order problems, keep a large restive population under constant vigil and the work of their famous CID (Crime Investigation Department) was the stuff of legends. Their exploits have been written about and eulogized; an IP officer was a true professional.
Undoubtedly the IP officers were part of a colonial regime that formed the bulwark of the British Raj. Their challenge was to maintain complete hegemony and ensure no challenge to the British rule in India. Despite wide spread public support for revolutionary violence the police were able to handle this challenge without resort to 'encounters' and our current law, POTA. While the objectives of the IP could not accepted as these were to serve the British, their methods and police work were undoubtedly of high professional standards
The bombings in London on 7 July killed 54 and injured several times more people. Significantly, they shook the British society raising questions about its claim for multiculturalism, pluralism and diversity. The retaliatory attacks on mosques and gurudwaras along with the growing threats on anyone resembling an Asian ethnicity are disturbing signs. Apart from killing innocent people and terrorizing the people around the world the suicide bombers appeared to initially succeed in driving a wedge amongst the British people.
However, the quick detection of their identity and success in making an arrest of one conspirator testifies to the excellent investigation done by Scotland Yard. Within a short period the police not only found irrefutable evidence of who did these barbarous attacks but also unearthed their modus operandi and tracked their movements on that fateful day. The four suicide bombers have now been identified as young Muslims who traveled from Leeds to London to carry out their attacks. The evidence collected from their home is being pursued to determine who were their handlers and how, where and when the conspiracy was hatched. The fact that all four were British born Muslim young people who were indoctrinated in Pakistan points towards an extensive network of jihadis. They are unlikely to stop at these four bombings and most likely will be planning their next target. Nevertheless, by any standards this is an investigation of the highest order and the British police deserve all the praise that can be given.
Under US pressure, President Musharraf has banned the activities of LET, JEM and LEJ in Sindh, Punjab, the NWFP and Balochistan, but not in PoK, the Northern Areas and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas. The activities of HUM and HUJI, which are closest to Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment, have not been banned anywhere. In a recent judgement against some Pakistani doctors accused of providing sanctuaries and medical assistance to Al Qaeda members, the Pakistani supreme court pointed out that the Pakistan government has not, till now, declared Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation and banned its activities in Pakistan as required under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The role of Pakistani mercenaries Between 1989 and 1993, terrorism in J&K was mainly due to the activities of indigenous Kashmiri organisations. When they were unable to succeed, the ISI started infiltrating trained jihadi cadres of the Pakistani pan-Islamic organisations, who had fought against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, into J&K for beefing up indigenous organisations. Since 1999, the Pakistani jihadi organisations have taken over the leadership of the anti-government of India movement and have been operating in Indian territory under the guise of Kashmiris. As already mentioned above, out of the 46 suicide terrorist attacks reported since 1999, 44 have been by Pakistanis belonging to these jihadi organisations. The principal leaders of these organisations are Pakistani Punjabis and the majority of their cadres are Pakistani nationals. These Pakistani jihadi organisations project J&K as the gateway to India and say that, after 'liberating' J&K from the control of the Hindus, they will 'liberate' the Muslims in other parts of India and set up two more independent 'homelands' for Muslims -- one in north India and the other in south India. As part of this long-term aim, they have been setting up clandestine cells in other parts of India and have launched some major operations such as the attack inside the Red Fort [Images] in New Delhi in January 2001, the attack on the Indian Parliament in December, 2001, and the attack on Hindu worshippers in a temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, in September 2002. There have also been a number of terrorist incidents in other parts of India such as the attack on the security guards outside the US consulate in Kolkata in January 2002, the four explosions in Mumbai in 2002-03 -- the latest on March 13, 2003, killed 12 innocent train passengers -- and the explosion in a Hindu religious place in Hyderabad last year.
The role of Al Qaeda in India Till now, Al Qaeda's Arab members have not operated in Indian territory. Some Arabs were arrested in J&K during counter-terrorism operations, but they were members of Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi organisations and not of Al Qaeda as such. However, HUM, HUJI, LET and JEM, the Pakistani jihadi organisations which are members of bin Laden's IIF along with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, have been responsible for most of the religious terrorist incidents in J&K and other places in India.
The impact of Bin Laden & Al Qaeda on the Indian Muslim community India has a little over 140 million Muslims -- the second largest Muslim community in the world after Indonesia. Only a very small section of the community has taken to terrorism due to various grievances and instigation by the ISI and Pakistan's religious, fundamentalist and jihadi organisations. The overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims are loyal, law-abiding citizens. They have not allowed their anger against the Indian government or the Hindus for any reason to drive them into the arms of terrorist organisations. India has the most modern, peaceful and forward-looking Muslim community in the world. If one keeps J&K aside, the following factors are significant:
During the 1980s, over 6,000 Muslims from different parts of the world went to Afghanistan to join the Afghan Mujahideen groups in their fight against the Soviet troops. Not a single Indian Muslim joined them. There are hundreds of Muslims from various parts of the world undergoing jihad training in Pakistan's various madrasas. But there are no reports of any Indian Muslims studying there.bin Laden's IIF has 13 member-organisations from different parts of the world -- five of them are from Pakistan. Not a single Indian Muslim organisation -- not even from J&K -- has joined the IIF.When the US started its air strikes on Al Qaeda and the Taliban training camps in Afghan territory on October 7, 2001, there were demonstrations by Muslims in many parts of the world. There was hardly any demonstration in India.After the US-led coalition started its war on terrorism in Afghanistan, hundreds of Muslims from many countries went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to join the Taliban and Al Qaeda in their fight against the coalition troops. There were no Indian Muslims among them.
At its detention centres at Gauntanamo Bay in Cuba, Diego Garcia and Bagran in Afghanistan, the US has been interrogating hundreds of Muslims from different countries caught helping Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. There is not a single Indian Muslim amongst them.As many foreign Muslims, if not more, come to India for higher education as they go to Pakistan. Those studying in Pakistan go back to their countries as terrorists, narcotics smugglers or other law-breakers. There was only one instance of a Palestinian, who studied in India, taking to terrorism after he returned to his country in 1992. Foreign Muslim students studying in India go back to their countries as constructive citizens --bureaucrats, academics, IT experts, etc. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who is the toast of the world today for his courage, vision and modern outlook, is a product of the Indian education system. These factors show bin Laden and his Al Qaeda have had little impact on the Muslim community in India. The Indian Muslims, including the aggrieved sections of the Kashmiris, have kept away from them. The attempts of the Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi organisations to rally the support of the Indian Muslims in the name of bin Laden have, thus far, been unsuccessful.
India's external counter-terrorism policies India has been the victim of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism since the 1950s. In those years, Pakistan's ISI had supported the insurgent/terrorist groups in India's northeast region and provided them sanctuaries, training, arms and ammunition in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of the then East Pakistan. India's anxiety to stop this played an important role in its assistance to the people of East Pakistan to liberate themselves. Since 1980, the ISI has been providing sanctuaries, training, arms and ammunition in Pakistan to religious terrorist groups operating in Punjab, J&K and other parts of India. It is also infiltrating the mercenaries of the Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi organisations into India to promote cross-border terrorism. India has taken up this issue with the US since 1992 and wants Pakistan declared a State sponsor of international terrorism under US laws and have punitive action taken against it. In 1993, the Clinton administration placed Pakistan on a watch list of suspected State sponsors of international terrorism for six months and forced Nawaz Sharif, who was then in power, to sack Lieutenant General Javed Nasir, then ISI's director-general, and other senior officers. This did not have any effect on the use of terrorism by the ISI. Since 9/11, Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment has been collaborating with the US in taking action against Al Qaeda elements posing a threat to US nationals and interests. But it has not taken any action against cross-border terrorism directed against India and to destroy terrorist infrastructure in PoK and the Northern Areas. After the attack by terrorists belonging to LET and JEM on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, India mobilised and deployed its Army on the border in response to public pressure for action against the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. In response to appeals from the US, UK and other friendly governments, India refrained from action against Pakistan. Under US pressure, Pakistan banned LET and JEM, but not HUJI and HUM, and arrested some of their leaders and cadres. They have since been released. US officials themselves admit Pakistan has not implemented its assurances to the US that it would put a stop to cross-border terrorism in J&K. Despite this, the US is reluctant to act against Pakistan because of its cooperation in assisting the US in neutralising Al Qaeda elements who have taken shelter in Pakistan. India has made it clear that there will be no question of any talks with Pakistan on the normalisation of bilateral relations till it stops cross-border terrorism, winds up the terrorist infrastructure in its territory and gives up the use of terrorism as a weapon against India. India has also been greatly concerned over the use of Bangladesh territory by religious and non-religious terrorists operating against India. The non-religious terrorist groups continue to enjoy sanctuaries in the CHT. Of the religious terrorist organisations, HUJI has an active branch in Bangladesh. Some Al Qaeda elements, who escaped into Pakistan from Afghanistan, have found their way into Bangladesh, where they have been given shelter by HUJI. There is active complicity between the ISI and its counterpart in Dhaka in this matter. The Bangladesh authorities have not been co-operating with India in taking effective action against the large-scale illegal immigration into India. However, keeping in view the otherwise good relations with Bangladesh, India has been trying to have these problems sorted out bilaterally at the political and diplomatic levels. But the progress so far has been disappointing.