Showing posts sorted by relevance for query terrorism. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query terrorism. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2009

War on terror needs a paradigm shift

By Javid Hassan

The ongoing National Campaign for Combating Terrorism (NCCT), which got under way in New Delhi on Feb. 3, will culminate in a seminar, ‘Aashirwad-the journey begins’, on March 6. The event has been marked by speeches, human chain, cultural programmes and calls to draw inspiration from the heroes of Indian history.

A dispassionate analysis of all the rhetorics and theatricals thrown into the anti-terrorism campaign makes it clear that those spearheading the campaign have missed what should have been the main point of the debate on the root cause of terrorism. Before we delve deeper into those aspects, it would be instructive to recap what has been said or done so far in order to realize the need for a paradigm shift.

The campaign got under way on February 3 in New Delhi with a `peace and harmony run'. More than 4,000 students from 78 colleges in Delhi and elsewhere have already registered for the run, which was flagged off by Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental of Delhi University. He observed that under the banner of NCCT, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) will mobilize the youth by holding a series of functions during the month-long campaign.

Besides the peace run, DUSU has lined up various other events as part of the campaign against terrorism: a two-day bilingual theatre festival held on February 9; debating competition scheduled in Delhi on February 19; `Udgosh - Spice of India', a music festival on February 27 and `Aashirwad - the journey begins', a seminar on March 6 at the New Conference Hall.

The next phase of NCCT would involve Loyola College, Chennai, where similar competitions will be held to identify budding talents, who would then be grouped into an NGO dedicated to helping the victims of terror.

The organizers of the anti-terrorism campaign have exhorted the members of NCCT to imbibe human values that underpin responsible citizens. And the only way forward, we are told, is to educate ourselves about our country and its cultural roots underlying the greatness of the Indian nation.

In Karnataka, over 15,000 students from colleges in Dharwad constituted a human chain as part of the campaign against terrorism on Feb.3. The initiative for this came from the department of higher education in Bangalore for launching a State-wide drive aimed at mobilising the youth in the fight against terrorism. The campaign, according to government officials, is deemed necessary in view of the surge in terrorist activities involving students and youths in India in general and Karnataka in particular.

Leaving aside these platitudes, it is instructive to examine the root cause of terrorism on the basis of realities on the ground. In the case of the Nanded bomb blast, for example, the motive, according to accused, Bhanurao Vithalrao Choudhary, was to target a mosque in Aurangabad. He also identified Himanshu who told them they needed to fight Muslim terror by carrying out terror strikes in the country. However, the plan could not materialize, as the bomb that exploded by accident in Nanded was actually meant to destroy the Aurangabad mosque.

Choudhary pointed out that Himanshu was in a revengeful mood due to the fact that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who was responsible for the Gateway of India blast in 2003 which killed many, went away scot-free despite the massacre that he was involved in. Thus, Himanshu believed, it was necessary to target the Muslim population in the country to safeguard the interests of the Hindutva.

Elaborating on the theme, Aleem Faizee, social activist working for the Malegaon blast victims, observed during investigations that the police found a map with details of the Aurangabad mosque. They also came across fake beards and Muslim outfits as part of the grand design to plant bombs and shift the blame on Muslims.

Muslim extremists, too, have been crazed by the same spirit of revenge. This became clear during the statements made by some of the accused arrested in connection with the recent Delhi blasts. The gang leader, Riyaz Bhatkal, said during interrogation that the blasts were meant to avenge the Mecca Masjid blasts which, he believed, involved some Hindu outfits to pin the blame on Muslims.

Here it would not be out of place to cite the example of Andaman Islands, which has a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Yet, it has never experienced communal violence. The reason is that there are no political parties to fan the flames of ethnic, cultural or religious divide. This proves convincingly that political parties have their own agenda in creating by communal or religious tension by exploiting the youth or some unemployed people.

Other factors responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks in the country stem from the use of high technology, to which techno-savvy youth have access. For instance, US Internet search company Google Inc released recently a software programme that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends. Users in 27 countries can broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. The controls also enable users to decide who receives the information or to go offline at any time.

In a blog announcing the launch of the new service, Google believes that with this new technology, it is not only possible to control exactly who gets to see your location, but also decide the location that they see. What is more, friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

However, Google has rendered this state-of-the-art technology inaccessible to terrorists through built-in checks and controls. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that high-tech terrorists are relying increasingly on SIM cards to cover up their tracks during mobile calls from various destinations.

In one bizarre case involving an airport employee, the police discovered that he had procured 10 SIM cards by placing orders on his company’s letterhead and forging signatures of its executives. The other application of science and technology put the spotlight on Abdul Sattar, a technician who had earlier worked in Saudi Arabia as an air-conditioning timer expert. He used his expertise to set off blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July last year

These bomb blasts involving both Hindus and Muslims underline a common message. When people lack a focus in life, are not aware of the do’s and don’ts of successful living, have a weak moral foundation, lack the spirit of research and enquiry in the pursuit of their goal as a student, do not know how to overcome the challenges of life, they dissipate their energy in a wild goose chase. They behave like a stray bullet killing innocent people, destroying houses, causing avoidable damage, and playing havoc with society like a loose cannon.

The youth cannot be insulated from terrorism by issuing high-decibel calls in the name of patriotism or cultural heritage. Illustrious personalities, however great they might be, do not change the mindset of a people anywhere in the field unless the desire for change lingers within oneself. And the only way to bring about that change is to impress on a person the importance of taking care of the present.

This is the message that Socrates delivers to Dan Millman, the university student and gymnast, in the 2006 American movie, “Peaceful Warrior.” Dan, who dreams of becoming a national champion, is diverted from his main goal by his sexual exploits. Socrates, with whom Dan has a chance encounter, advises the latter to concentrate on his goal to the exclusion of other diversions. He also teaches him to focus on his journey in order to reach his destination. These valuable lesson change the course of his life leading him eventually to win the coveted championship award.

Media education can play that role in transforming students from non-entities into entities with a mission to succeed in their goal. Once they have a mission statement in life, they will not have time for eve-teasing or other non-academic pursuits like sending pink chaddies to Ram Sena leader Pramod Mutalik on Valentine Day as they did on Feb.14.

Nor will they fall into the hands of terrorists or indulge in violence, political or criminal activities due to their heightened awareness of crime and punishment. I was absolutely shocked to learn, in a letter to the editor, that some of our youths take the politicians to be their role models! What else can we expect from such a generation other than terrorism, hooliganism, ragging, assaults on teachers, cheating in exams, etc.

To sum up, the only way to wean the Indian youths away from the scourge of terrorism is to inspire them with a mission in life as student. Through media awareness programmes, they can be made to realize that they have no future unless they have a goal and become a shining star to win the attention of those who matter. Once their goal is defined, they will not fall by the wayside and become an unexploded landmine taking innocent lives.

War on terror needs a paradigm shift

By Javid Hassan

The ongoing National Campaign for Combating Terrorism (NCCT), which got under way in New Delhi on Feb. 3, will culminate in a seminar, ‘Aashirwad-the journey begins’, on March 6. The event has been marked by speeches, human chain, cultural programmes and calls to draw inspiration from the heroes of Indian history.

A dispassionate analysis of all the rhetorics and theatricals thrown into the anti-terrorism campaign makes it clear that those spearheading the campaign have missed what should have been the main point of the debate on the root cause of terrorism. Before we delve deeper into those aspects, it would be instructive to recap what has been said or done so far in order to realize the need for a paradigm shift.

The campaign got under way on February 3 in New Delhi with a `peace and harmony run'. More than 4,000 students from 78 colleges in Delhi and elsewhere have already registered for the run, which was flagged off by Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental of Delhi University. He observed that under the banner of NCCT, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) will mobilize the youth by holding a series of functions during the month-long campaign.

Besides the peace run, DUSU has lined up various other events as part of the campaign against terrorism: a two-day bilingual theatre festival held on February 9; debating competition scheduled in Delhi on February 19; `Udgosh - Spice of India', a music festival on February 27 and `Aashirwad - the journey begins', a seminar on March 6 at the New Conference Hall.

The next phase of NCCT would involve Loyola College, Chennai, where similar competitions will be held to identify budding talents, who would then be grouped into an NGO dedicated to helping the victims of terror.

The organizers of the anti-terrorism campaign have exhorted the members of NCCT to imbibe human values that underpin responsible citizens. And the only way forward, we are told, is to educate ourselves about our country and its cultural roots underlying the greatness of the Indian nation.

In Karnataka, over 15,000 students from colleges in Dharwad constituted a human chain as part of the campaign against terrorism on Feb.3. The initiative for this came from the department of higher education in Bangalore for launching a State-wide drive aimed at mobilising the youth in the fight against terrorism. The campaign, according to government officials, is deemed necessary in view of the surge in terrorist activities involving students and youths in India in general and Karnataka in particular.

Leaving aside these platitudes, it is instructive to examine the root cause of terrorism on the basis of realities on the ground. In the case of the Nanded bomb blast, for example, the motive, according to accused, Bhanurao Vithalrao Choudhary, was to target a mosque in Aurangabad. He also identified Himanshu who told them they needed to fight Muslim terror by carrying out terror strikes in the country. However, the plan could not materialize, as the bomb that exploded by accident in Nanded was actually meant to destroy the Aurangabad mosque.

Choudhary pointed out that Himanshu was in a revengeful mood due to the fact that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who was responsible for the Gateway of India blast in 2003 which killed many, went away scot-free despite the massacre that he was involved in. Thus, Himanshu believed, it was necessary to target the Muslim population in the country to safeguard the interests of the Hindutva.

Elaborating on the theme, Aleem Faizee, social activist working for the Malegaon blast victims, observed during investigations that the police found a map with details of the Aurangabad mosque. They also came across fake beards and Muslim outfits as part of the grand design to plant bombs and shift the blame on Muslims.

Muslim extremists, too, have been crazed by the same spirit of revenge. This became clear during the statements made by some of the accused arrested in connection with the recent Delhi blasts. The gang leader, Riyaz Bhatkal, said during interrogation that the blasts were meant to avenge the Mecca Masjid blasts which, he believed, involved some Hindu outfits to pin the blame on Muslims.

Here it would not be out of place to cite the example of Andaman Islands, which has a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Yet, it has never experienced communal violence. The reason is that there are no political parties to fan the flames of ethnic, cultural or religious divide. This proves convincingly that political parties have their own agenda in creating by communal or religious tension by exploiting the youth or some unemployed people.

Other factors responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks in the country stem from the use of high technology, to which techno-savvy youth have access. For instance, US Internet search company Google Inc released recently a software programme that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends. Users in 27 countries can broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. The controls also enable users to decide who receives the information or to go offline at any time.

In a blog announcing the launch of the new service, Google believes that with this new technology, it is not only possible to control exactly who gets to see your location, but also decide the location that they see. What is more, friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

However, Google has rendered this state-of-the-art technology inaccessible to terrorists through built-in checks and controls. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that high-tech terrorists are relying increasingly on SIM cards to cover up their tracks during mobile calls from various destinations.

In one bizarre case involving an airport employee, the police discovered that he had procured 10 SIM cards by placing orders on his company’s letterhead and forging signatures of its executives. The other application of science and technology put the spotlight on Abdul Sattar, a technician who had earlier worked in Saudi Arabia as an air-conditioning timer expert. He used his expertise to set off blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July last year

These bomb blasts involving both Hindus and Muslims underline a common message. When people lack a focus in life, are not aware of the do’s and don’ts of successful living, have a weak moral foundation, lack the spirit of research and enquiry in the pursuit of their goal as a student, do not know how to overcome the challenges of life, they dissipate their energy in a wild goose chase. They behave like a stray bullet killing innocent people, destroying houses, causing avoidable damage, and playing havoc with society like a loose cannon.

The youth cannot be insulated from terrorism by issuing high-decibel calls in the name of patriotism or cultural heritage. Illustrious personalities, however great they might be, do not change the mindset of a people anywhere in the field unless the desire for change lingers within oneself. And the only way to bring about that change is to impress on a person the importance of taking care of the present.

This is the message that Socrates delivers to Dan Millman, the university student and gymnast, in the 2006 American movie, “Peaceful Warrior.” Dan, who dreams of becoming a national champion, is diverted from his main goal by his sexual exploits. Socrates, with whom Dan has a chance encounter, advises the latter to concentrate on his goal to the exclusion of other diversions. He also teaches him to focus on his journey in order to reach his destination. These valuable lesson change the course of his life leading him eventually to win the coveted championship award.

Media education can play that role in transforming students from non-entities into entities with a mission to succeed in their goal. Once they have a mission statement in life, they will not have time for eve-teasing or other non-academic pursuits like sending pink chaddies to Ram Sena leader Pramod Mutalik on Valentine Day as they did on Feb.14.

Nor will they fall into the hands of terrorists or indulge in violence, political or criminal activities due to their heightened awareness of crime and punishment. I was absolutely shocked to learn, in a letter to the editor, that some of our youths take the politicians to be their role models! What else can we expect from such a generation other than terrorism, hooliganism, ragging, assaults on teachers, cheating in exams, etc.

To sum up, the only way to wean the Indian youths away from the scourge of terrorism is to inspire them with a mission in life as student. Through media awareness programmes, they can be made to realize that they have no future unless they have a goal and become a shining star to win the attention of those who matter. Once their goal is defined, they will not fall by the wayside and become an unexploded landmine taking innocent lives.

War on terror needs a paradigm shift

By Javid Hassan

The ongoing National Campaign for Combating Terrorism (NCCT), which got under way in New Delhi on Feb. 3, will culminate in a seminar, ‘Aashirwad-the journey begins’, on March 6. The event has been marked by speeches, human chain, cultural programmes and calls to draw inspiration from the heroes of Indian history.

A dispassionate analysis of all the rhetorics and theatricals thrown into the anti-terrorism campaign makes it clear that those spearheading the campaign have missed what should have been the main point of the debate on the root cause of terrorism. Before we delve deeper into those aspects, it would be instructive to recap what has been said or done so far in order to realize the need for a paradigm shift.

The campaign got under way on February 3 in New Delhi with a `peace and harmony run'. More than 4,000 students from 78 colleges in Delhi and elsewhere have already registered for the run, which was flagged off by Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental of Delhi University. He observed that under the banner of NCCT, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) will mobilize the youth by holding a series of functions during the month-long campaign.

Besides the peace run, DUSU has lined up various other events as part of the campaign against terrorism: a two-day bilingual theatre festival held on February 9; debating competition scheduled in Delhi on February 19; `Udgosh - Spice of India', a music festival on February 27 and `Aashirwad - the journey begins', a seminar on March 6 at the New Conference Hall.

The next phase of NCCT would involve Loyola College, Chennai, where similar competitions will be held to identify budding talents, who would then be grouped into an NGO dedicated to helping the victims of terror.

The organizers of the anti-terrorism campaign have exhorted the members of NCCT to imbibe human values that underpin responsible citizens. And the only way forward, we are told, is to educate ourselves about our country and its cultural roots underlying the greatness of the Indian nation.

In Karnataka, over 15,000 students from colleges in Dharwad constituted a human chain as part of the campaign against terrorism on Feb.3. The initiative for this came from the department of higher education in Bangalore for launching a State-wide drive aimed at mobilising the youth in the fight against terrorism. The campaign, according to government officials, is deemed necessary in view of the surge in terrorist activities involving students and youths in India in general and Karnataka in particular.

Leaving aside these platitudes, it is instructive to examine the root cause of terrorism on the basis of realities on the ground. In the case of the Nanded bomb blast, for example, the motive, according to accused, Bhanurao Vithalrao Choudhary, was to target a mosque in Aurangabad. He also identified Himanshu who told them they needed to fight Muslim terror by carrying out terror strikes in the country. However, the plan could not materialize, as the bomb that exploded by accident in Nanded was actually meant to destroy the Aurangabad mosque.

Choudhary pointed out that Himanshu was in a revengeful mood due to the fact that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who was responsible for the Gateway of India blast in 2003 which killed many, went away scot-free despite the massacre that he was involved in. Thus, Himanshu believed, it was necessary to target the Muslim population in the country to safeguard the interests of the Hindutva.

Elaborating on the theme, Aleem Faizee, social activist working for the Malegaon blast victims, observed during investigations that the police found a map with details of the Aurangabad mosque. They also came across fake beards and Muslim outfits as part of the grand design to plant bombs and shift the blame on Muslims.

Muslim extremists, too, have been crazed by the same spirit of revenge. This became clear during the statements made by some of the accused arrested in connection with the recent Delhi blasts. The gang leader, Riyaz Bhatkal, said during interrogation that the blasts were meant to avenge the Mecca Masjid blasts which, he believed, involved some Hindu outfits to pin the blame on Muslims.

Here it would not be out of place to cite the example of Andaman Islands, which has a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Yet, it has never experienced communal violence. The reason is that there are no political parties to fan the flames of ethnic, cultural or religious divide. This proves convincingly that political parties have their own agenda in creating by communal or religious tension by exploiting the youth or some unemployed people.

Other factors responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks in the country stem from the use of high technology, to which techno-savvy youth have access. For instance, US Internet search company Google Inc released recently a software programme that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends. Users in 27 countries can broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. The controls also enable users to decide who receives the information or to go offline at any time.

In a blog announcing the launch of the new service, Google believes that with this new technology, it is not only possible to control exactly who gets to see your location, but also decide the location that they see. What is more, friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

However, Google has rendered this state-of-the-art technology inaccessible to terrorists through built-in checks and controls. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that high-tech terrorists are relying increasingly on SIM cards to cover up their tracks during mobile calls from various destinations.

In one bizarre case involving an airport employee, the police discovered that he had procured 10 SIM cards by placing orders on his company’s letterhead and forging signatures of its executives. The other application of science and technology put the spotlight on Abdul Sattar, a technician who had earlier worked in Saudi Arabia as an air-conditioning timer expert. He used his expertise to set off blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July last year

These bomb blasts involving both Hindus and Muslims underline a common message. When people lack a focus in life, are not aware of the do’s and don’ts of successful living, have a weak moral foundation, lack the spirit of research and enquiry in the pursuit of their goal as a student, do not know how to overcome the challenges of life, they dissipate their energy in a wild goose chase. They behave like a stray bullet killing innocent people, destroying houses, causing avoidable damage, and playing havoc with society like a loose cannon.

The youth cannot be insulated from terrorism by issuing high-decibel calls in the name of patriotism or cultural heritage. Illustrious personalities, however great they might be, do not change the mindset of a people anywhere in the field unless the desire for change lingers within oneself. And the only way to bring about that change is to impress on a person the importance of taking care of the present.

This is the message that Socrates delivers to Dan Millman, the university student and gymnast, in the 2006 American movie, “Peaceful Warrior.” Dan, who dreams of becoming a national champion, is diverted from his main goal by his sexual exploits. Socrates, with whom Dan has a chance encounter, advises the latter to concentrate on his goal to the exclusion of other diversions. He also teaches him to focus on his journey in order to reach his destination. These valuable lesson change the course of his life leading him eventually to win the coveted championship award.

Media education can play that role in transforming students from non-entities into entities with a mission to succeed in their goal. Once they have a mission statement in life, they will not have time for eve-teasing or other non-academic pursuits like sending pink chaddies to Ram Sena leader Pramod Mutalik on Valentine Day as they did on Feb.14.

Nor will they fall into the hands of terrorists or indulge in violence, political or criminal activities due to their heightened awareness of crime and punishment. I was absolutely shocked to learn, in a letter to the editor, that some of our youths take the politicians to be their role models! What else can we expect from such a generation other than terrorism, hooliganism, ragging, assaults on teachers, cheating in exams, etc.

To sum up, the only way to wean the Indian youths away from the scourge of terrorism is to inspire them with a mission in life as student. Through media awareness programmes, they can be made to realize that they have no future unless they have a goal and become a shining star to win the attention of those who matter. Once their goal is defined, they will not fall by the wayside and become an unexploded landmine taking innocent lives.

War on terror needs a paradigm shift

By Javid Hassan

The ongoing National Campaign for Combating Terrorism (NCCT), which got under way in New Delhi on Feb. 3, will culminate in a seminar, ‘Aashirwad-the journey begins’, on March 6. The event has been marked by speeches, human chain, cultural programmes and calls to draw inspiration from the heroes of Indian history.

A dispassionate analysis of all the rhetorics and theatricals thrown into the anti-terrorism campaign makes it clear that those spearheading the campaign have missed what should have been the main point of the debate on the root cause of terrorism. Before we delve deeper into those aspects, it would be instructive to recap what has been said or done so far in order to realize the need for a paradigm shift.

The campaign got under way on February 3 in New Delhi with a `peace and harmony run'. More than 4,000 students from 78 colleges in Delhi and elsewhere have already registered for the run, which was flagged off by Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental of Delhi University. He observed that under the banner of NCCT, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) will mobilize the youth by holding a series of functions during the month-long campaign.

Besides the peace run, DUSU has lined up various other events as part of the campaign against terrorism: a two-day bilingual theatre festival held on February 9; debating competition scheduled in Delhi on February 19; `Udgosh - Spice of India', a music festival on February 27 and `Aashirwad - the journey begins', a seminar on March 6 at the New Conference Hall.

The next phase of NCCT would involve Loyola College, Chennai, where similar competitions will be held to identify budding talents, who would then be grouped into an NGO dedicated to helping the victims of terror.

The organizers of the anti-terrorism campaign have exhorted the members of NCCT to imbibe human values that underpin responsible citizens. And the only way forward, we are told, is to educate ourselves about our country and its cultural roots underlying the greatness of the Indian nation.

In Karnataka, over 15,000 students from colleges in Dharwad constituted a human chain as part of the campaign against terrorism on Feb.3. The initiative for this came from the department of higher education in Bangalore for launching a State-wide drive aimed at mobilising the youth in the fight against terrorism. The campaign, according to government officials, is deemed necessary in view of the surge in terrorist activities involving students and youths in India in general and Karnataka in particular.

Leaving aside these platitudes, it is instructive to examine the root cause of terrorism on the basis of realities on the ground. In the case of the Nanded bomb blast, for example, the motive, according to accused, Bhanurao Vithalrao Choudhary, was to target a mosque in Aurangabad. He also identified Himanshu who told them they needed to fight Muslim terror by carrying out terror strikes in the country. However, the plan could not materialize, as the bomb that exploded by accident in Nanded was actually meant to destroy the Aurangabad mosque.

Choudhary pointed out that Himanshu was in a revengeful mood due to the fact that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who was responsible for the Gateway of India blast in 2003 which killed many, went away scot-free despite the massacre that he was involved in. Thus, Himanshu believed, it was necessary to target the Muslim population in the country to safeguard the interests of the Hindutva.

Elaborating on the theme, Aleem Faizee, social activist working for the Malegaon blast victims, observed during investigations that the police found a map with details of the Aurangabad mosque. They also came across fake beards and Muslim outfits as part of the grand design to plant bombs and shift the blame on Muslims.

Muslim extremists, too, have been crazed by the same spirit of revenge. This became clear during the statements made by some of the accused arrested in connection with the recent Delhi blasts. The gang leader, Riyaz Bhatkal, said during interrogation that the blasts were meant to avenge the Mecca Masjid blasts which, he believed, involved some Hindu outfits to pin the blame on Muslims.

Here it would not be out of place to cite the example of Andaman Islands, which has a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Yet, it has never experienced communal violence. The reason is that there are no political parties to fan the flames of ethnic, cultural or religious divide. This proves convincingly that political parties have their own agenda in creating by communal or religious tension by exploiting the youth or some unemployed people.

Other factors responsible for the wave of terrorist attacks in the country stem from the use of high technology, to which techno-savvy youth have access. For instance, US Internet search company Google Inc released recently a software programme that allows users of mobile phones and other wireless devices to automatically share their whereabouts with family and friends. Users in 27 countries can broadcast their location to others constantly, using Google Latitude. The controls also enable users to decide who receives the information or to go offline at any time.

In a blog announcing the launch of the new service, Google believes that with this new technology, it is not only possible to control exactly who gets to see your location, but also decide the location that they see. What is more, friends' whereabouts can be tracked on a Google map, either from a handset or from a personal computer.

However, Google has rendered this state-of-the-art technology inaccessible to terrorists through built-in checks and controls. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that high-tech terrorists are relying increasingly on SIM cards to cover up their tracks during mobile calls from various destinations.

In one bizarre case involving an airport employee, the police discovered that he had procured 10 SIM cards by placing orders on his company’s letterhead and forging signatures of its executives. The other application of science and technology put the spotlight on Abdul Sattar, a technician who had earlier worked in Saudi Arabia as an air-conditioning timer expert. He used his expertise to set off blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad in July last year

These bomb blasts involving both Hindus and Muslims underline a common message. When people lack a focus in life, are not aware of the do’s and don’ts of successful living, have a weak moral foundation, lack the spirit of research and enquiry in the pursuit of their goal as a student, do not know how to overcome the challenges of life, they dissipate their energy in a wild goose chase. They behave like a stray bullet killing innocent people, destroying houses, causing avoidable damage, and playing havoc with society like a loose cannon.

The youth cannot be insulated from terrorism by issuing high-decibel calls in the name of patriotism or cultural heritage. Illustrious personalities, however great they might be, do not change the mindset of a people anywhere in the field unless the desire for change lingers within oneself. And the only way to bring about that change is to impress on a person the importance of taking care of the present.

This is the message that Socrates delivers to Dan Millman, the university student and gymnast, in the 2006 American movie, “Peaceful Warrior.” Dan, who dreams of becoming a national champion, is diverted from his main goal by his sexual exploits. Socrates, with whom Dan has a chance encounter, advises the latter to concentrate on his goal to the exclusion of other diversions. He also teaches him to focus on his journey in order to reach his destination. These valuable lesson change the course of his life leading him eventually to win the coveted championship award.

Media education can play that role in transforming students from non-entities into entities with a mission to succeed in their goal. Once they have a mission statement in life, they will not have time for eve-teasing or other non-academic pursuits like sending pink chaddies to Ram Sena leader Pramod Mutalik on Valentine Day as they did on Feb.14.

Nor will they fall into the hands of terrorists or indulge in violence, political or criminal activities due to their heightened awareness of crime and punishment. I was absolutely shocked to learn, in a letter to the editor, that some of our youths take the politicians to be their role models! What else can we expect from such a generation other than terrorism, hooliganism, ragging, assaults on teachers, cheating in exams, etc.

To sum up, the only way to wean the Indian youths away from the scourge of terrorism is to inspire them with a mission in life as student. Through media awareness programmes, they can be made to realize that they have no future unless they have a goal and become a shining star to win the attention of those who matter. Once their goal is defined, they will not fall by the wayside and become an unexploded landmine taking innocent lives.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Making Pakistan Bleed By A Thousand Cuts

By M H AHSSAN ! INNLIVE

India must now step up, not ease up, its multi-pronged strategy against terrorism.

The hit-and-run terrorist attack in Baramulla on October 2 left one BSF jawan dead and another critically injured. Following India’s precision surgical strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29, ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) have risen sharply.

India must now step up, not ease up, its multi-pronged strategy against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Strategic restraint as an anti-terrorism doctrine has been given a quiet burial. Two issues stand out. First, further Pakistani retaliation: what form it will take and how to neutralise it. Second, India’s unfolding counter-terrorism strategy.

Renewed Pakistani retaliation could take two forms. One, attacking soft targets like malls, theatres, markets and other populated urban areas by activating sleeper cells and terrorists who had crossed over into India before the Uri terror attack.

Two, more hit-and-run attacks by Pakistani terrorists on Indian border posts and increased LoC shelling.

India must be prepared for both forms of retaliation by a Pakistani army humiliated by India’s precision surgical strike.

Meanwhile, the multi-pronged strategy to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorism can be broken up into four broad areas:

Military
India’s covert strike on September 20/21 (not officially acknowledged) reportedly killed around 20 terrorists. The surgical strike on September 29 killed an estimated 40 to 55 terrorists, though the actual figure could be higher.

More than the damage inflicted on Pakistan’s terror machine, India’s political will to strike and its military capability to do so have been clinically established.

Doubting Thomases in India abound. Some said the surgical strike was a routine affair. Others bemoaned the dangerous path India had embarked on. A few said economic growth would suffer.

The government should ignore these perennial naysayers. Vested interests in India are sometimes more beholden to Pakistan’s national interest than India’s. That is the nature of a subverted ecosystem. It will unravel in the fullness of time.

Economic
Implement the full ambit of the Indus Waters Treaty. India must optimise the water it is legally entitled to under the treaty. Pakistan can object only to abrogation of the treaty, not its full legal implementation.

As a result, Jammu and Kashmir will receive more water and generate an extra 15,000MW of hydroelectric power. All India needs to do to achieve this without violating the treaty is to build barrages and water storage facilities in J&K.

The Tulbul project (dubbed the Wullar barrage by Pakistan) is a good start. China’s move to block part of the Brahmaputra’s flow into Assam and Arunachal Pradesh should not deter India.

Pakistan will pay in two ways.

On one hand, it will receive progressively less water under the legally incontestable provisions of the Indus treaty. On the other, the principal beneficiary will be the people of J&K. The political capital this can deliver to the J&K government is incalculable.

Simultaneously, Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan in 1996 on the principle of reciprocity (a principle brazenly flouted by Islamabad and meekly accepted by Delhi for 20 years) must go. 

Official trade between the two countries is low ($2 billion). Unofficial border trade is higher ($15 billion). All this misses the point. You cannot isolate a terror state by retaining its most favoured nation status. The messaging gets blurred, the outcome compromised.

Diplomatic
Isolate Pakistan both internationally and regionally. Admonitory statements from the United States, Russia and other major powers directed at Pakistan after India’s surgical strike have made it clear that the world’s patience with Islamabad has run out. The winter session of Parliament will present an opportunity to pass a resolution to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the cancellation of the SAARC summit has isolated Pakistan regionally. Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Bhutan have made common cause with India by pointing to Pakistan as the repository of terrorism.

The BIMSTEC forum is the obvious replacement for SAARC. It brings together a group of countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Dubbed the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Five BIMSTEC members are also members of SAARC which comprises eight countries. If Afghanistan and the Maldives (both part of SAARC) are invited as observers in BIMSTEC, the grouping will give India an even wider geopolitical footprint across Asia. Pakistan, the eighth SAARC country, will be isolated.

Concomitantly, China’s move to block Maulana Masood Azhar as a UN-designated terrorist can be used to shame China internationally as a protector of global terror. It will not be easy for an aspiring global power like China to live that down.

Strategic
Grant Baloch dissidents asylum in India and allow them to establish a government-in-exile. The "Free Balochistan" movement will keep Pakistan off balance.

Meanwhile, India must shift its strategic goalposts on J&K. The LoC is no longer sacrosanct. PoK is Indian territory, as a parliamentary resolution in 1994 underlined. The only issue now to be resolved in the "dispute" over Kashmir should be Pakistan’s vacation of PoK.

The Manmohan-Vajpayee doctrine recognised that a dialogue with Pakistan was necessary to demilitarise J&K, thus indirectly legitimising Pakistan’s claim on a part of Kashmir that is in India’s possession.

That argument has now shifted decisively. The only area in dispute and open to dialogue is the part of Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan.

This represents a paradigm shift in India’s stand on J&K. More that last week’s surgical strike, it is this shift and its long-term implications that has rattled Pakistan the most.

Myths
Meanwhile, banish three myths that invariably surface when Pakistan is under pressure as it is today. One, that "we are the same people". We are not.

Two, that "the people of Pakistan do not support terrorism against India". Most do. The antipathy towards Indians amongst ordinary Pakistanis is far stronger than most Indians recognise.

Three, "Both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism". This false equivalence has infected the vocabulary of peace professionals in India. The difference of course is India does not send gangs of terrorists to Lahore and Islamabad to kill ordinary Pakistanis.

This fraudulent equivalence on terror victimhood is a narrative that, like strategic restraint, must be buried forever.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Liberals Are Making The War Against Jihadi Terror

If Akbaruddin Owaisi, who had been arrested and subsequently released on bail for making a hate speech in December 2012, is to be believed, there would have been no jihadi terrorism in India if the Babri Masjid had not been demolished or Muslims massacred or raped in Gujarat.

Many Muslim organisations, including Owaisi’s Majlis Ittehad-e-Muslimeen, allege that many Muslim youths are being routinely arrested and tortured even though they are later discharged for want of evidence, and this is a theory that the Indian liberal elite has been willing to buy.

Earlier this month, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) decided not to charge charge three suspects in the Bangalore jihad case registered late last year: among them, defence scientist Aijaz Ahmad Mirza and journalist Mati-ur-Rahman Siddiqui. The fate of the three men has been widely read as part of a police-led persecution of Muslims. Indians liberals have tended to agree.

The facts, however, suggest the need for a more nuanced reading of these instances of Muslims who are released for want of evidence.  In fact, the liberal elite assumption that these are really instances of discriminatory police attitudes is imposing serious costs on India’s ability to frame a serious response to jihadi terrorism.

Let’s test the assumptions against the facts in the Bangalore case. Focused on the release of Mirza and Siddiqui, media accounts have mostly skimmed over the fact that 12 of the 15 alleged Bangalore jihad conspirators held have actually been charged. The NIA’s charge-sheet outlines perhaps the most ambitious jihadist project since 26/11, and the first Indian case involving online self-radicalisation.

In 2011-2012, it alleges, Bangalore residents Abdul Hakeem Jamadar and Zafar Iqbal Sholapur visited Pakistan, drawn by online jihadist literature to join the jihad in Afghanistan.  In Karachi, though, fugitive jihad organiser Farhatullah Ghauri persuaded them to fight against India.  The two men, the NIA says, were then introduced to operatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and the Lashkar, who trained them in “intelligence, cyber-crime, handling and shooting of weapons”.

The NIA alleges that the Bangalore jihad cell plotted to assassinate a string of figures associated with the Hindu-right wing, as well as journalists and police officers. Its members, the NIA says, also planned to conduct armed robberies to fund its jihadist plans, and conduct espionage for Pakistan.

No evidence was found to link Aijaz Mirza, Siddiqui and Yusuf Nalaband to this plot – but was it unreasonable to hold them on suspicion? The men shared the very room from where Shoaib Mirza is alleged to have used his laptop to stitch together the plot. Jamadar and Sholapur are alleged to have been tasked with conducting intelligence operations; Aijaz Mirza had access to sensitive information. Siddiqui visited jihadist websites.

It is true this writer and every other journalist covering national security issues also does this regularly – but then, no terrorist plot is being planned from my room. Put together, these surely constitute questions for investigation.

The NIA and the Bangalore Police did the right thing: they arrested suspects, examined the evidence, and decided not to prosecute men against whom there was none.  They did not fabricate evidence or coerce confessions.

Incarceration indeed caused harm to three men, as it would to any innocent caught up in the criminal justice system. Mirza has given a heart-wrenching account of the hardship caused to his family.  However, the harm caused to him has to be read against the possible harm to the community caused by the investigators’  failure to arrest – which in this case, might have been several deaths.  This is precisely why police forces across the world are allowed, by law, to arrest suspects during investigation. No demand of pre-arrest certitude is made in other kinds of cases, notably last year’s Delhi rape-murder: the suspects were held long before forensic evidence became available.

Eyes wide shut: So, why are élite liberals so reluctant to maintain an open mind on the NIA case? For one, they argue that investigations are driven by anti-Muslim bias. It is simply untrue, though, to argue – as Siddiqui has done – that the police would not have carried out the arrests “if I was not a Muslim”. Last year, in June, Lokender Sharma and Devender Gupta were granted bail  in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts case because  the NIA failed to file a charge- sheet against them in the prescribed time. Bharat Rateshwar, accused in the Mecca Masjid bombing, was also granted bail for the same reason. There are several similar cases from the NIA’s north-east investigations.

Police forces across the world face this dilemma.  In the United Kingdom, over two-thirds of suspects arrested in terrorism investigations were let off without being charged; only 14 percent of those arrested, or less than 50 percent of those charged, were eventually convicted.

The claim that the police targeted Muslims for the Mecca Masjid bombing has been repeated so often as to become received truth. Journalist Sagarika Ghose, not unfairly, tells the graphic story of “Imran Syed, a Hyderabad student arrested for the Mecca Masjid blasts in 2007, given third degree torture and electric shocks”.  Kuldip Nayyar accused the police of “tormenting Muslims”, pointing again to the fact that “21 Muslim youth from Hyderabad were wrongly implicated in the Mecca Masjid blast”.

The truth is that 22 Muslim men were indeed arrested, and found innocent during trial. However, anyone who has takes the trouble to read First Information Report 198 filed at the Gopalapuram Police Station in 2007 knows not one of the arrests had anything to do with the Mecca Masjid case.

Police officers driven by malice, or seeking to cover-up their incompetence, could have initiated false prosecutions linking these men to the Mecca Masjid attack.  They did not – and went on to uncover the Hindutva terrorist network now blamed for the attack.

There’s no doubt, of course, India’s overstretched and under-resourced police forces get it wrong plenty of times.  It is worth noting, though, that the sword of incompetence cuts in all directions.  I haven’t, for example, heard any outrage from Delhi-based human rights groups about the case of Hindutva hardliner Pragya Thakur – charged by the Madhya Pradesh Police with having murdered alleged Samjhauta Express bomber Sunil Joshi, and allegedly tortured.  The case was handed over to the NIA in 2011, and is now focused on different suspects. 

Yet, police don’t get it wrong as often as most people assume. Last year, the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, a human rights lobbying group, published an apparently damning study of 16 prosecutions brought by the Delhi Police’s elite counter-terrorism Special Cell, showing that each case ended in acquittal amidst charges of illegal detention, fabricated evidence and torture. The Delhi Police, however, pointed out that they secured convictions in 68 percent of terrorism cases – and, notably, had done so in six of the 16 cases the JTSA flagged.  In the US, with enormously better-resourced police, the figure is around 87 percent

This writer has argued elsewhere that Indian police forces have a poor conviction record for serious crimes, due to poor training, bad forensic resources and human resource shortages. Conviction rates for murder have hovered around 40 percent, and rape at below a third. They’re even more abysmal for kidnapping. There is no reason to believe that conviction rates for terrorism will be higher.

Failing prosecutions, thus, are a cause for concern for everyone – but not evidence that the police are out to get Muslims, or Hindus, or anyone else. It is entirely possible that police officers share the same biases which suffuse our society. Look through the authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal, though, and one fact is evident: a lot more Hindus, Christians and animist tribals are being arrested on terrorism charges than Muslims.

In 2012, 914 Maoists were arrested; less than a tenth of that number were held in cases related to Islamist terrorism.  This isn’t even counting-in arrests in two states where there are mainly Hindu-led insurgencies, Assam and Manipur.

Police, politics, and ideology: The problem isn’t, however, that élite liberals haven’t stumbled on the data. It is, rather, that their ideological blinkers have led them to reject their import. Part of the problem may be that our intellectual life has moved, too easily, from primitive fable to post-modern text, bypassing the stage of evidence-based appraisals altogether.

More important, though, this apparent position of dissent fits well with powerful establishmentarian tendencies. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is one such pole; his hangers-on include Feroze Mithibhorwala, who alleged that the role of the “CIA, FBI & Mossad in fomenting and planning the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks are proved beyond doubt”. The Congress’ view is that the kinds of Muslims Owaisi represents will be drawn to its ranks by this kind of drivel. Left-liberals who loathe the Hindutva movement – people not unlike me – thus see assaulting the police on jihad-related issues as a defence of secularism.

This is perverse politics, which has had the signal consequence of communalising our national conversation on terrorism.  There is, indeed, a serious national conversation to be had on investigative incompetence, deficits in police capacities and the breakdown of the criminal justice system – crises which gave birth to prison torture and a culture of casual extrajudicial execution. Liberal critiques of India’s struggle to contain jihadi terrorism rarely engage with this challenge.

I’ve sometimes wondered if the problem isn’t deeper: whether the cultural memes inherited by English-medium liberals, including myself, cloud our judgment. The figure of the martyr Christ, rebel against tyrannical power, is profoundly seductive; it is the the unacknowledged foundation-stone for the western human rights movements. Yet, the Romans were right to caution against the seduction of the martyrs’ voice.

There is a real threat to this country of a communal conflict that could tear it apart along its faultlines. Keeping our eyes wide shut to the reality will ensure the secular-liberal state loses.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Liberals Are Granting The War Againt Jihadi Terror

In Andhra Pradesh, if Akbaruddin Owaisi, who had been arrested and subsequently released on bail for making a hate speech in December 2012, is to be believed, there would have been no jihadi terrorism in India if the Babri Masjid had not been demolished or Muslims massacred or raped in Gujarat.

Many Muslim organisations, including Owaisi’s Majlis Ittehad-e-Muslimeen, allege that many Muslim youths are being routinely arrested and tortured even though they are later discharged for want of evidence, and this is a theory that the Indian liberal elite has been willing to buy.

Earlier this month, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) decided not to charge charge three suspects in the Bangalore jihad case registered late last year: among them, defence scientist Aijaz Ahmad Mirza and journalist Mati-ur-Rahman Siddiqui. The fate of the three men has been widely read as part of a police-led persecution of Muslims. Indians liberals have tended to agree.

The facts, however, suggest the need for a more nuanced reading of these instances of Muslims who are released for want of evidence.  In fact, the liberal elite assumption that these are really instances of discriminatory police attitudes is imposing serious costs on India’s ability to frame a serious response to jihadi terrorism.

Let’s test the assumptions against the facts in the Bangalore case. Focused on the release of Mirza and Siddiqui, media accounts have mostly skimmed over the fact that 12 of the 15 alleged Bangalore jihad conspirators held have actually been charged. The NIA’s charge-sheet outlines perhaps the most ambitious jihadist project since 26/11, and the first Indian case involving online self-radicalisation.


In 2011-2012, it alleges, Bangalore residents Abdul Hakeem Jamadar and Zafar Iqbal Sholapur visited Pakistan, drawn by online jihadist literature to join the jihad in Afghanistan.  In Karachi, though, fugitive jihad organiser Farhatullah Ghauri persuaded them to fight against India.  The two men, the NIA says, were then introduced to operatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and the Lashkar, who trained them in “intelligence, cyber-crime, handling and shooting of weapons”.

The NIA alleges that the Bangalore jihad cell plotted to assassinate a string of figures associated with the Hindu-right wing, as well as journalists and police officers. Its members, the NIA says, also planned to conduct armed robberies to fund its jihadist plans, and conduct espionage for Pakistan.

No evidence was found to link Aijaz Mirza, Siddiqui and Yusuf Nalaband to this plot – but was it unreasonable to hold them on suspicion? The men shared the very room from where Shoaib Mirza is alleged to have used his laptop to stitch together the plot. Jamadar and Sholapur are alleged to have been tasked with conducting intelligence operations; Aijaz Mirza had access to sensitive information. Siddiqui visited jihadist websites.

It is true this writer and every other journalist covering national security issues also does this regularly – but then, no terrorist plot is being planned from my room. Put together, these surely constitute questions for investigation.

The NIA and the Bangalore Police did the right thing: they arrested suspects, examined the evidence, and decided not to prosecute men against whom there was none.  They did not fabricate evidence or coerce confessions.

Incarceration indeed caused harm to three men, as it would to any innocent caught up in the criminal justice system. Mirza has given a heart-wrenching account of the hardship caused to his family.  However, the harm caused to him has to be read against the possible harm to the community caused by the investigators’  failure to arrest – which in this case, might have been several deaths.  This is precisely why police forces across the world are allowed, by law, to arrest suspects during investigation. No demand of pre-arrest certitude is made in other kinds of cases, notably last year’s Delhi rape-murder: the suspects were held long before forensic evidence became available.


Eyes wide shut: So, why are élite liberals so reluctant to maintain an open mind on the NIA case? For one, they argue that investigations are driven by anti-Muslim bias. It is simply untrue, though, to argue – as Siddiqui has done – that the police would not have carried out the arrests “if I was not a Muslim”. Last year, in June, Lokender Sharma and Devender Gupta were granted bail  in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts case because  the NIA failed to file a charge- sheet against them in the prescribed time. Bharat Rateshwar, accused in the Mecca Masjid bombing, was also granted bail for the same reason. There are several similar cases from the NIA’s north-east investigations.

Police forces across the world face this dilemma.  In the United Kingdom, over two-thirds of suspects arrested in terrorism investigations were let off without being charged; only 14 percent of those arrested, or less than 50 percent of those charged, were eventually convicted.

The claim that the police targeted Muslims for the Mecca Masjid bombing has been repeated so often as to become received truth. Journalist Sagarika Ghose, not unfairly, tells the graphic story of “Imran Syed, a Hyderabad student arrested for the Mecca Masjid blasts in 2007, given third degree torture and electric shocks”.  Kuldip Nayyar accused the police of “tormenting Muslims”, pointing again to the fact that “21 Muslim youth from Hyderabad were wrongly implicated in the Mecca Masjid blast”.

The truth is that 22 Muslim men were indeed arrested, and found innocent during trial. However, anyone who has takes the trouble to read First Information Report 198 filed at the Gopalapuram Police Station in 2007 knows not one of the arrests had anything to do with the Mecca Masjid case.

Police officers driven by malice, or seeking to cover-up their incompetence, could have initiated false prosecutions linking these men to the Mecca Masjid attack.  They did not – and went on to uncover the Hindutva terrorist network now blamed for the attack.

There’s no doubt, of course, India’s overstretched and under-resourced police forces get it wrong plenty of times.  It is worth noting, though, that the sword of incompetence cuts in all directions.  I haven’t, for example, heard any outrage from Delhi-based human rights groups about the case of Hindutva hardliner Pragya Thakur – charged by the Madhya Pradesh Police with having murdered alleged Samjhauta Express bomber Sunil Joshi, and allegedly tortured.  The case was handed over to the NIA in 2011, and is now focused on different suspects. 

Yet, police don’t get it wrong as often as most people assume. Last year, the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association, a human rights lobbying group, published an apparently damning study of 16 prosecutions brought by the Delhi Police’s elite counter-terrorism Special Cell, showing that each case ended in acquittal amidst charges of illegal detention, fabricated evidence and torture. The Delhi Police, however, pointed out that they secured convictions in 68 percent of terrorism cases – and, notably, had done so in six of the 16 cases the JTSA flagged.  In the US, with enormously better-resourced police, the figure is around 87 percent

This writer has argued elsewhere that Indian police forces have a poor conviction record for serious crimes, due to poor training, bad forensic resources and human resource shortages. Conviction rates for murder have hovered around 40 percent, and rape at below a third. They’re even more abysmal for kidnapping. There is no reason to believe that conviction rates for terrorism will be higher.

Failing prosecutions, thus, are a cause for concern for everyone – but not evidence that the police are out to get Muslims, or Hindus, or anyone else. It is entirely possible that police officers share the same biases which suffuse our society. Look through the authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal, though, and one fact is evident: a lot more Hindus, Christians and animist tribals are being arrested on terrorism charges than Muslims.

In 2012, 914 Maoists were arrested; less than a tenth of that number were held in cases related to Islamist terrorism.  This isn’t even counting-in arrests in two states where there are mainly Hindu-led insurgencies, Assam and Manipur.

Police, politics, and ideology: The problem isn’t, however, that élite liberals haven’t stumbled on the data. It is, rather, that their ideological blinkers have led them to reject their import. Part of the problem may be that our intellectual life has moved, too easily, from primitive fable to post-modern text, bypassing the stage of evidence-based appraisals altogether.


More important, though, this apparent position of dissent fits well with powerful establishmentarian tendencies. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh is one such pole; his hangers-on include Feroze Mithibhorwala, who alleged that the role of the “CIA, FBI & Mossad in fomenting and planning the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks are proved beyond doubt”. The Congress’ view is that the kinds of Muslims Owaisi represents will be drawn to its ranks by this kind of drivel. Left-liberals who loathe the Hindutva movement – people not unlike me – thus see assaulting the police on jihad-related issues as a defence of secularism.

This is perverse politics, which has had the signal consequence of communalising our national conversation on terrorism.  There is, indeed, a serious national conversation to be had on investigative incompetence, deficits in police capacities and the breakdown of the criminal justice system – crises which gave birth to prison torture and a culture of casual extrajudicial execution. Liberal critiques of India’s struggle to contain jihadi terrorism rarely engage with this challenge.

I’ve sometimes wondered if the problem isn’t deeper: whether the cultural memes inherited by English-medium liberals, including myself, cloud our judgment. The figure of the martyr Christ, rebel against tyrannical power, is profoundly seductive; it is the the unacknowledged foundation-stone for the western human rights movements. Yet, the Romans were right to caution against the seduction of the martyrs’ voice.

There is a real threat to this country of a communal conflict that could tear it apart along its faultlines. Keeping our eyes wide shut to the reality will ensure the secular-liberal state loses.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'Hindu terrorism' debate grips India

By Zubair Ahmed

A new and highly controversial phrase has entered the sometimes cliche-riddled Indian press: "Hindu terrorism".

As with the term "Islamic terrorism" and "Christian fundamentalism", this latest addition to the media lexicon is highly emotive.

It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" came to be used widely.

That was because the state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.

Little-known
One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith.

So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.

Police are investigating whether some of those arrested are members of a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India).

At least three of those held have some links with a prestigious college in the city of Nasik, the Bhonsala Military Academy.

ATS investigators have questioned two of the academy's former office bearers several times.

One of them was Col Raikar, who retired from the Indian army some months ago.

Both he and Col Purohit served in the same unit of the army and became friends.

The ATS claims the meeting in which the plan for the bomb blast was hatched was held in the Bhonsala school.

Another retired army officer, Maj Prabhakar Kulkarni, is also under arrest. He too was an office bearer at the school.

In addition, the ATS says that at least one of the 10 suspects received military training here.

Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, Col Purohit, Maj Kulkarni and Col Raikar have denied any connection with terrorism, as has the Bhonsala Military Academy and its parent organisation, the Central Hindu Military Education Society (CHMES).

Founded in 1937, the sprawling Bhonsala campus is run by the CHMES, an organisation established in the 1930s by Dr BS Moonje, a former president of the militant Hindu Mahasabha (Hindu Assembly) organisation.

His vision was to militarise India to fight the British Raj.

Military-style training
As the name suggests, this is not an ordinary college.

Its aim, as its website claims, is to "encourage students to take up careers in the armed forces of the country".

Military training involves teaching students how to fire guns.

The students are prepared for the National Defence Academy, the central government's premier military college.

The branch of the academy in the city of Nasik has many impressive buildings.

One of them is used to impart military-style training to students, aged 10-16 years.

Its secretary, Divakar Kulkarni, laments the fact that his school is getting a bad press these days.

He says that besides military training, students are taught Hindu philosophy and scriptures.

Mr Kulkarni accepts it's primarily a school for Hindus, but he adds that there are two or three Muslim and Christian children in every class of 45 students.

'Tea and biscuits'

"Even Muslim students study the Bhagwat Gita and the Ramayana [Hindu scriptures]," he says proudly.

So how does he respond to the ATS allegation that the bomb plot was hatched at a meeting in the academy?

"Col Raikar let out a hall to Abhinav Bharat for a meeting for two hours, but we don't know what transpired in the meeting," Mr Kulkarni said.

The ATS believes Col Raikar was also present in the meeting. But according to Mr Kulkarni he went there just for a few minutes "to ask if they wanted tea and biscuits".

The ATS says that it has also found the aims and objectives of Abhinav Bharat downloaded on the computers of the two men.

Mr Kulkarni insisted that there was a perfectly innocent explanation for this: "They downloaded the outfit's aims and objectives without knowing much about its work," he said.

Meanwhile, most Hindu organisations believe India's Congress party-led government is playing politics by defaming Hindus.

They argue that the very term "Hindu terrorist" is not only a creation of the media but also a contradiction in terms - because the faith explicitly renounces violence.

"The government, with an eye on the general election next year, is trying to woo Muslims by maligning Hindus," says Datta Gaikward, chief of the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party in Nasik.

Hindu political parties are also staunchly defending Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, the arrested female priest.

They have hired lawyers to represent her and at every legal hearing in Nasik supporters of right-wing parties gather outside the court and shout anti-government slogans.

All eyes will be now be on the court proceedings - whenever they start in earnest - to find out whether "Hindu terrorism" really has taken root or not.

'Hindu terrorism' debate grips India

By Zubair Ahmed

A new and highly controversial phrase has entered the sometimes cliche-riddled Indian press: "Hindu terrorism".

As with the term "Islamic terrorism" and "Christian fundamentalism", this latest addition to the media lexicon is highly emotive.

It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" came to be used widely.

That was because the state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.

Little-known
One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith.

So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.

Police are investigating whether some of those arrested are members of a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India).

At least three of those held have some links with a prestigious college in the city of Nasik, the Bhonsala Military Academy.

ATS investigators have questioned two of the academy's former office bearers several times.

One of them was Col Raikar, who retired from the Indian army some months ago.

Both he and Col Purohit served in the same unit of the army and became friends.

The ATS claims the meeting in which the plan for the bomb blast was hatched was held in the Bhonsala school.

Another retired army officer, Maj Prabhakar Kulkarni, is also under arrest. He too was an office bearer at the school.

In addition, the ATS says that at least one of the 10 suspects received military training here.

Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, Col Purohit, Maj Kulkarni and Col Raikar have denied any connection with terrorism, as has the Bhonsala Military Academy and its parent organisation, the Central Hindu Military Education Society (CHMES).

Founded in 1937, the sprawling Bhonsala campus is run by the CHMES, an organisation established in the 1930s by Dr BS Moonje, a former president of the militant Hindu Mahasabha (Hindu Assembly) organisation.

His vision was to militarise India to fight the British Raj.

Military-style training
As the name suggests, this is not an ordinary college.

Its aim, as its website claims, is to "encourage students to take up careers in the armed forces of the country".

Military training involves teaching students how to fire guns.

The students are prepared for the National Defence Academy, the central government's premier military college.

The branch of the academy in the city of Nasik has many impressive buildings.

One of them is used to impart military-style training to students, aged 10-16 years.

Its secretary, Divakar Kulkarni, laments the fact that his school is getting a bad press these days.

He says that besides military training, students are taught Hindu philosophy and scriptures.

Mr Kulkarni accepts it's primarily a school for Hindus, but he adds that there are two or three Muslim and Christian children in every class of 45 students.

'Tea and biscuits'

"Even Muslim students study the Bhagwat Gita and the Ramayana [Hindu scriptures]," he says proudly.

So how does he respond to the ATS allegation that the bomb plot was hatched at a meeting in the academy?

"Col Raikar let out a hall to Abhinav Bharat for a meeting for two hours, but we don't know what transpired in the meeting," Mr Kulkarni said.

The ATS believes Col Raikar was also present in the meeting. But according to Mr Kulkarni he went there just for a few minutes "to ask if they wanted tea and biscuits".

The ATS says that it has also found the aims and objectives of Abhinav Bharat downloaded on the computers of the two men.

Mr Kulkarni insisted that there was a perfectly innocent explanation for this: "They downloaded the outfit's aims and objectives without knowing much about its work," he said.

Meanwhile, most Hindu organisations believe India's Congress party-led government is playing politics by defaming Hindus.

They argue that the very term "Hindu terrorist" is not only a creation of the media but also a contradiction in terms - because the faith explicitly renounces violence.

"The government, with an eye on the general election next year, is trying to woo Muslims by maligning Hindus," says Datta Gaikward, chief of the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party in Nasik.

Hindu political parties are also staunchly defending Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, the arrested female priest.

They have hired lawyers to represent her and at every legal hearing in Nasik supporters of right-wing parties gather outside the court and shout anti-government slogans.

All eyes will be now be on the court proceedings - whenever they start in earnest - to find out whether "Hindu terrorism" really has taken root or not.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Voters Defy Predictions

By M H Ahssan

The Congress party’s surprisingly good showing in India's state assembly elections has not only given the party a boost ahead of general elections next spring, but also provides useful pointers for political parties charting their strategies for the upcoming showdown. Voters have sent out a clear signal that they are not impressed by parties hoping to derive the maximum political mileage from terrorist attacks.

The Congress, which heads the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, went into the assembly elections on the back foot, having to defend its rather poor performance in tackling terrorism and controlling fuel and commodity prices. However, it was able to hold on to Delhi for the third time in a row, wrest control of Rajasthan in northwestern India from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and come to power with an impressive two-thirds majority in the northeastern state of Mizoram, after a decade in the political wilderness there.

The BJP retained control over Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in central India, while the results for the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has completed four rounds of voting and has another three to go, will be known at the end of December. No date has been set for the national polls, but they must be held by May, when the current government’s term expires.

The assembly elections are important for several reasons. They have been described as the "semi-final" ahead of the general elections, and the results will help parties determine their electoral platforms for the big vote.

Congress' results are a reversal of its electoral fortunes in recent years. Since it came to power in May 2004, Congress has lost 16 out of 25 assembly elections. It has not won a single large state since 2005; and the few victories it has managed were in small states such as Goa and Puducherry.

That jinx has now been broken, and what seemed like a terminal slide for the Congress has been arrested. The victories in the polls will give it much needed confidence ahead of the general elections. And allies that might have been thinking of abandoning it ahead of the national vote for its poor electoral performance could now decide to stick with the party.

More importantly, the election results show the BJP’s harping on about the terror issue and its cynical exploitation of public alarm over the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai did not work.

Of the states which went to the polls recently, only Chhattisgarh had finished voting before the attacks on Mumbai. Madhya Pradesh voted on November 27 and Delhi two days later. Polling in Mizoram and Rajasthan was held on December 2 and 4, respectively.

India has been hit by a nationwide wave of terrorist attacks in recent months, and the BJP has often accused the government of being "soft on terrorism". This campaign turned shriller following the Mumbai attacks, after which the BJP issued a blood-red, front-page advertisement in the Hindustan Times, an English daily with a very large readership, ahead of the Delhi polls reading: "Brutal Terror Strikes at Will. Weak Government Unwilling and Incapable. Fight Terror. Vote BJP." It also put up hoardings in cities and sent out text messages to hundreds of thousands of voters, blaming the Congress for the attacks.

At a time when public anger with the government’s repeated failure to protect ordinary civilians from terrorism has assumed serious proportions, it was widely believed that the terrorist attacks, especially the ones in Mumbai, would favor the BJP. Analysts predicted and politicians felt voters would succumb to the BJP's fear-mongering.

Both Delhi and Rajasthani have suffered brutal terrorist attacks, and although they have a sizeable population sympathetic to the BJP’s Hindutva (Hindu supremacist) ideology, the BJP’s tough talk on terrorism did not pay off electorally. Its divisive campaign, while likely to have struck a chord in many, did not get it the number of votes it needed to win Delhi.

The BJP is not the first party to have used terrorist attacks and the fear they generate to win elections. In 1984, when prime minister Indira Gandhi was gunned down by Sikh terrorists, the Congress launched a virulent election campaign that portrayed Sikhs in general as terrorists. Advertisements and hoardings spoke of the threat they posed to national security. “Your neighbor could be a terrorist," said advertisements, which had pictures of turbaned Sikhs. The campaign worked. The Congress won with a landslide majority.

More recently, the Republicans and US President George W Bush played on American fears of terrorist attacks in the 2004 presidential election. That campaign worked too and Bush was elected for a second term.

But the Indian voters, often dismissed as illiterate and ill-informed, did not allow the BJP’s campaign to determine their electoral choices.The election result indicates that voters are unwilling to pin the blame for India’s vulnerability to terrorism on one party alone and that they are uneasy with politicizing terrorism.

The issue of credible governance was more important for voters. In Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi voters returned incumbent governments to power, the BJP in the first two, where welfare programs for farmers and women played a role in keeping voters on its side, and the Congress in Delhi. In Rajasthan and Mizoram, voters endorsed the opposition Congress over incumbents.

What are the lessons that parties can draw from the polls? For the BJP, the election results should serve as a reminder that its divisive politics will not work. As for the Congress, there is a danger that it could draw the wrong lessons from the verdict and go back to its lethargic approach to tacking terrorism. But it needs to see the writing on the wall. Voters are not unconcerned about terrorism, but they also expect good governance, which includes responding adequately to development issues as well as internal security needs.

The semi-final contest is effectively a draw between India's two main parties, the Congress and the BJP, with voters putting both parties on notice. The party that draws the right lessons from the "semi-final" will hold the advantage going into the general election.

However, both parties will have to tread cautiously in drawing lessons from the assembly elections, as the factors influencing them in general elections are quite different, as previous elections have indicated. The assembly elections provide pointers that politicians and analysts will pounce on to make grand predictions for the general election, but past elections show the need for caution. Six months is a long time in politics and the mood of voters can change dramatically.

India is too large a country and too complex a democracy for politicians and analysts to make easy predictions. What the election underscores yet again is that both would do well to approach the Indian voter with more humility.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

UPA Anti-Terror ‘Strategy’: When Doing Nothing Looks Like Success

According to the South Asia Terrorism expertise database, terrorism and insurgency-related fatalities in India have fallen from a peak of 5,839 in 2001 to 804 in 2012. Indeed, the decline has been sustained in each year since 2001, with a significant reversal of the trend only in 2005, and a marginal reversal in 2008.

The most dramatic drop has, of course, been in Jammu and Kashmir, for long the country’s worst insurgency, which witnessed a collapse from 4,507 fatalities in 2001 to 117 in 2012 (down from 183 in 2011, and 375 in 2010).

For a while, it appeared that a rampaging Maoist rebellion would escalate to fill up the gap, as fatalities surged from 675 in 2005 to 1,180 in 2010. Worse, the Maoists appeared to be expanding their theatres of operation at an unprecedented pace, confronting India with the most widespread insurgency of its Independent history. By 2010, 223 districts (out of a total of 636) in 20 states were thought to be affected by varying levels of Maoist ‘activity’, though only some 65 of these witnessed any recurrent violence. But the Maoist insurgency also appears to be in retreat. Total fatalities in Maoist violence dropped to 367 in 2012, even as the number of afflicted districts shrank to 173.

The broad trends in the chronically-troubled North-east have also been salubrious, with total fatalities declining from a recent peak of 1,051 in 2005 to 317 in 2012. Disturbing proclivities, however, do persist. The Maoists have extended their presence into this unstable region and are creating new partnerships with its fractious and collapsing insurgencies.

Some states, most prominently including Manipur, see a cyclical trend in violence. So, while fatalities were down to 190 in 2002, they rose almost steadily thereafter, to 485 in 2008, dropping to just 65 in 2011, and rising, again, to 111 in 2012. Fratricidal turf wars between various rebel Naga factions have also seen a spike in killings in this state, from 15 in 2011, to 65 in 2012.

Attacks by Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorists across India recorded a remarkable decline, with just one incident in 2012 outside J&K – a low intensity blast in Pune. 2011 had registered three such attacks outside J&K, with at least 42 killed. 2008, of course, saw such incidents peaking, with seven attacks, and 364 fatalities, of which 195 (166 civilians, 20 SF personnel and nine terrorists) were accounted for by the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack alone.

It is natural, in the present circumstances, to attribute this broad trend towards internal security stabilisation – at least in part – to state policy. The argument, crudely put, is that the government must be doing something that is right if all our insurgencies are collapsing, and Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorists are in evident retreat, both in J&K and across the rest of the country. Such an assessment, the argument goes, cannot be undermined by an occasional attack, such as the 21 February 2013, twin blasts in Hyderabad, which killed 16.

Indeed, some supporters of the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime have sought to interpret the contrast between insurgency-terrorism-related fatalities under the preceding National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and the current trend as evidence of the great sagacity of strategy and policy that the former has brought to internal security management.

Curiously, as an aside, it is interesting to notice that, on the one hand, the government and its supporters argue that declines in violence are the result of the ‘success’ of ‘policies’ and ‘strategies’ (neither of which appear to have been defined in any distinctive terms, or to have been implemented on any measurable parameters); on the other, at the first sign of trouble – the Hyderabad blasts, for instance – they insist that it is necessary to create the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) if terrorism has to be fought successfully.

But if recent improvements in trends are the consequences of ‘good policies and strategies’ – obviously implemented by existing institutions – the NCTC is, evidently, not necessary. On the other hand, if the NCTC is, indeed, necessary, then the declines in terrorist violence would need to be attributed, not to any great strategic coherence or operational effectiveness, but to extraneous factors for which the government cannot claim credit.

The Hyderabad blasts, in fact, tell us precisely that our vulnerabilities remain undiminished, and that it is in a wide range of other factors – and not in any spectacular augmentation of state capacities and capabilities, or any impressive evolution of national strategy – that we would find explanations of the broad decline of insurgent and terrorist violence in India.

This is not to say that the state and its agencies have done nothing, or that there has been no capacity augmentation. Rather, what is being done does not constitute any radical departure from what was being done earlier – with very limited impact – and capacity augmentations have been far too modest to register any remarkable improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of CI-CT capabilities and responses.

To take one obvious and visible parameter, between 2008 (the year of the 26/11 attacks) and 2011 (the last year for which credible data is available) the police-population ratio rose from 128 to just 137; significant, of course, but nowhere near the strengths required even for peacetime policing – which, on international estimates, should range well above 220 per 100,000.

Various institutional innovations, prominently including the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) and the Joint Task Force on Intelligence (JTFI) in the IB, and the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), which were to provide the core of augmented CI-CT capabilities, remain mere shells, years after they were sanctioned, with no measurable impact on ground level capabilities of the state.

Of course, state and central agencies have made continuous arrests and have successfully identified and neutralised a wide range of the state’s enemies on a fairly regular basis. However, such preventive operations and arrests were also carried out when violence was rising, and there is no evidence to suggest that the plummeting trends in insurgent and terrorist violence are the consequence of extraordinary operational efficacy.

It is, indeed, safe to say that, in the main – though not in their entirety – the improvements in India’s internal security environment are consequences of factors extraneous to the strategies, policies and actions of the state and its agencies; unless, of course, an attitude of majestic indolence can be regarded as ‘strategy’, ‘policy’ or ‘action’. It would, in fact, not be far from the truth to say that India has, more often than not, simply worn out its enemies by its indifference, than defeated them by the vigour and sagacity of its responses.

There are, of course, exceptions to this broad observation – Punjab, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh provide dramatic examples of what the state and its agencies can do when they actually find the clarity of purpose and the determination. But the lessons of these theatres have largely been ignored in a muddled discourse on ‘developmental’ and ‘political’ solutions, and by those who have given vent to immature anti-Maoist fantasies on ‘clear, hold and develop’, or to theatrical institutional innovations such as the NCTC, to the abiding neglect of the nuts and bolts of capacities and capabilities of the country’s intelligence and policing apparatus on the ground.

It is not a coincidence that the sustained reversal in terrorism-insurgency trends commenced after 2001. The 9/11 attacks in the US signalled the beginning of a new age in which the opportunistic ‘tolerance of terrorism’ that had marked the attitudes of the West was brought to an end. The enveloping global environment became abruptly hostile to those who used extreme violence to secure their political ends, and to the states that sponsored them.

The attacks of 9/11 also brought the massive US-led Western intervention in Afghanistan, and its gradual impact on the wider AfPak region. The result was progressively rising pressure on the Pakistani covert establishment to end at least visible levels of support to terrorism on India soil, as well as the impact of escalating domestic destabilisation that came to afflict Pakistan as a result of the ‘blowback’ of its support to international terrorism and its campaigns in Afghanistan.

A shift in Pakistan’s strategic priorities, towards the more urgent imperatives of its campaigns in Afghanistan, and away from Kashmir and India, further weakened India-directed terrorist impulses, providing tremendous relief, particularly in J&K. It remains the case, however, that Pakistan has kept anti-India terrorist formations of various hues alive and in reserve, hoping that a Western withdrawal from the region will reopen opportunities for a renewal of its Indian campaign.

The collapse of the regime of ‘tolerance of terrorism’ had it wider impact on other insurgencies in India. It was in December 2003 that the multiple insurgencies of India’s North-east received their first body blow, when the groups – led by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) – were expelled from Bhutanese soil, where they had received safe haven for years. After 2007, the environment became hostile in Bangladesh as well, and after the Sheikh Hasina Wajed government came to power in 2009, Bangladesh intensified action against the North-east insurgent groups and even dismantled the structure of Islamist extremist and terrorist groupings that had crystallised on its soil.

Large proportions of the North-east insurgent leadership were simply handed over to Indian authorities. Others found surrender or negotiations with the state more attractive, against the now-rising uncertainties of a fugitive life. The degraded insurgencies of the North-east are now also afflicted by an exhaustion brought about by the protracted and ponderous insensitivities of the Indian state.

Significantly, as the West grew more intolerant of their antics, insurgent groupings have been finding it difficult to secure some measure of political and propaganda space abroad, even as many of their domestic apologists have started running out of enthusiasm in the face of rising criticism. This has certainly blunted recruitment potential and the political space for extremism, once again, eroding prospects of insurgent mobilisation.

The Maoists remained substantially insulated from these developments. Reinvigorated by the merger of the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre in September 2004, the newly formed Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) embarked on an ambitious adventure to “extend the people’s war throughout the country”. Over the succeeding six years, they expanded into regions that were far from the population, geographical, administrative and developmental profile of the Red Corridor areas where they had found their natural habitat.

This was a tremendous strategic miscalculation, exposing them to the obvious risks of penetration during a phase of rapid expansion, compounded by the fact that these regions were much better connected, better serviced and (relatively) better administered. The result was that the Maoists suffered massive leadership losses – for instance, at least 18 members of the 39-member Central Committee of 2007 were arrested or killed during this phase. An overwhelming proportion of these losses were far afield, in urban centres and in states where the Maoists were making tentative forays to set up their networks, and not, with only occasion exception, as a result of the vaunting ‘clear, hold and develop’, or ‘cordon and search’ operations that the Centre launched in 2009 – and that came to a virtual and abrupt end with the Chintalnar massacre of April 2010.

Much of the Maoist escalation during the 2009-10 phase was, in fact, a retaliation against the Centre’s decision to challenge them in their areas of strength, though the pre-election mischief in West Bengal also gave them space for dramatic intensification in that state. Nevertheless, it is the leadership losses that have now forced the Maoists into a tactical retreat and an effort to reconsolidate their bases in their areas of strength – the Red Corridor.

Right to the end of his tenure as Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram had repeatedly stated that, despite the enormous investments and institutional transformations he took credit for, “all of India’s cities” remained vulnerable to terrorist attack. This would be a fairly correct assessment of the overall situation even now – we remain as vulnerable today as we were on 26/11, or as our forces were at Chintalnar.

It is true that our enemies have weakened – some temporarily, some more permanently; but it would be wrong to believe that we have become significantly stronger.