It is believed that the Indian government is likely to ask Pakistan to act against the JeM (Jaish e Mohammed)in a time bound manner if it wants the relations to improve and dialogue to continue. If Pakistan complies, it will establish its bona fides and the crisis can be resolved. But given the mindset and prevalence of conspiracy theorists in that country, it seems very difficult if not impossible. But having given peace a chance, India has bought some extra time before it thinks of other measures.
But the ‘Good News’ first. Terrorists failed to reach the technical area of Pathankot airbase where aircraft were parked, imagine a situation where they had succeeded in destroying many fighter aircraft, blow up the ammunition and fuel dump and kill large number of Air Force personnel. India would have been forced to launch a retaliatory attack; the pressure of public opinion would have been so strong! This would have certainly provoked a Pakistani response, the make believe in that country being such that nobody there would have believed that it was Pakistani provocation that started it all. If the May 1998 nuclear tests by two countries are a guide then there is every chance that the ‘competitive retaliation’ could have quickly degenerated into all out conventional conflict and possible use of nuclear weapons!
Pakistan, India and the world is second time lucky that this did not happen. During the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, it was the presence of mind of the Watch and Ward staff that shut the door to Central Hall that saved hundreds of Members of Parliament from being massacred. In Pathankot attack as well the brave resistance by the soldiers made sure that the worst was avoided. In both these cases it was luck that saved the region and the world from a nuclear conflagration in South Asia.
Many recent studies have pointed out that even a limited nuclear war in Indian subcontinent can be catastrophic for the global environment, which is already under stress due to air pollution and carbon emissions.
India has tried every possible trick in the diplomacy to deal with the Pakistani campaign of terrorism against us but has failed. We do not understand that the poison of religious extremism, so diligently injected in the body politic through education system during Zia ul Haq’s time, that the whole society is dysfunctional. As the Zia era educated generation of 1980s has come of age this has become a virtual DNA of Pakistan.
Last year a senior Professor at an American Military establishment told this author that Pakistani officers of Brigadiers rank who come to do courses there are totally delusional and live in an artificial bubble of their own. Mind you these are selected and bright officers of the Pak army; one can imagine what must be the mindset of the average one’s! With this as a background and given the fact that Pakistan’s approach to India is decided by the army and not elected govt. one can imagine why it is so difficult for Pak to rein in the terror groups operating on its own soil.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE NOW?
It is time that the world at large begins to take interest in defusing the situation in the subcontinent. So far the world has virtually ‘outsourced’ the peace responsibility in Sub Continent to India. But Indian patience is now running out. Essentially the crisis is rooted in the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power. Countries like US and China were the prime movers to bring into being this monster. Even Germany is responsible as it supplied the centrifuges to make enriched Uranium. Without this international help Pakistan that has a very rudimentary industrial base and technical manpower, is incapable of going in for nuclear weapons. It is time the word powers responsible for creating this menace atone for their sins.
It is time that India ‘internationalized’ the issue of Pak sponsored terrorism since this endangers the regional and world peace. Under this head it can take up the issue with the UN Security Council. India should plead for the world body to force Pakistan to act against the terrorist organizations failing which the UN should impose military and economic sanctions against it.
I am well aware with our bitter experience over Kashmir (India took the issue to UN with a complaint about Pak aggression) but ended up being at the receiving end. It was Nehru’s naiveté that failed to visualize that the West will come to Pakistan’s aid due to prevailing Cold War and Indian non alignment. No wonder we are chary of going to the UN. But situation is very different today and no country in world is likely to pay heed to Pak excuse that the terrorism is due to unsolved Kashmir problem. Terrorism is today a global issue and our repeating the ‘mantra’ of bilateralism is meaningless.
As is most likely with China as a permanent member with a Veto, any anti Pak measure is unlikely to get passed. However on the plus side, it will for the first time bring to the notice of the world that India has been the oldest victim of cross border terrorism. If the UN acts and imposes sanctions on Pakistan then that country may well come to its senses and actually begin to dismantle terrorist infrastructure. Unlike succumbing to Indian pressure, agreeing to UN will be less unpalatable.
I must share a personal experience to bolster my point. In August 2006, I attended a global workshop on rule of law and human rights in age of terrorism at Salzburg, Austria. Legal luminaries, judges and human right activists from world over took part in deliberations. In the opening session every speaker made a mention of 9/11 attack on the US as well as London and Madrid train bombing. The terror attack on Mumbai trains few months before, on 11 July 2006 was totally forgotten. I had to intervene and sarcastically ask if India was located on Mars and why this double standard? In a way we ourselves are responsible for this state of affairs for we have shied away from putting across our case.
Like Indira Gandhi did prior to the 1971 Bangladesh war, India must spend a special envoy to all the major countries to explain how India has been a victim of cross border terror. Their task will be easy as almost every terror incident anywhere in world has some linkage with Pakistan!
After building up public opinion, India must openly come out in support of Baluchistan and Sindh freedom fighters. If Pakistan refuses to mend its ways then break up of Pakistan is the only answer. Much of the work in that direction is being done by Pakistan’s Punjabi dominated army.
For last several years Pakistan has been using fighter jets, tanks and heavy guns against its own people in Waziristan. The civilian casualties this causes have been kept hidden from public view with a very strict censorship.
Pakistanis need to remember that Mirzali Khan, commonly known as Faqir of Ippi, resisted the British power successfully from 1936 till independence. He finally died in 1960. Pakistani army’s campaign in Waziristan has given birth to several Faqirs of Ippi like leaders. In time to come, Pakistan’s Punjabi dominated arms and state will surely come to grief as the British did in 1940s.
What India must do is constantly remind Pak of its strategic vulnerability. Its crucial targets and ‘heart’ that is Punjab province, is a barely 150 km deep strip of land along Indian border. Virtually every major ‘strategic’ target of Pakistan is within the range of Prithvi tactical missile of which India has aplenty.
From Mendhar in J&K the Kahuta nuclear installations are within the extended range of Pinaka rockets of Indian artillery. Peace with India is good for Pakistan and if the whole border gets activated and India also decided to employ a strategy of ‘thousand cuts’, the much smaller and anemic Pakistan will whiter away even without a nuclear war.
KASHMIR: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.
Col. Anil Athale
“Men do not make their history in isolation from the past. The memories of dead generations hang like a mill stone around the necks of present generations. ”
Kashmiri aspiration for independence evokes a fair degree of support due to a perception that Kashmir was `never’ a part of India. This is a new mythology whose origins can be traced back to the post-Independence politics in India and muddled approach towards national integration rather than any historical truth. However over the period of last sixty nine years, many of these myths are now firmly entrenched in the minds of people of Kashmir. Even people outside the province are, at times, affected by this. This distortion of history is itself part of the Kashmir problem and it is therefore important to know the truth.
IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING HISTORY
There are two extreme views on the usefulness or other wise of history in understanding contemporary events. One view, historical determinism, asserts that history repeats itself, always and every time. On the other extreme is the theory that each event is unique by itself. The truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. History as a chronicle of past is a useful guide for understanding trends in thinking of people. Historical trends can be extrapolated to present and future, with due modifications. History of a region also takes care of effect of geography, climate and genetic evolution, otherwise difficult to fathom. But most importantly, history as a collective memory of people serves a major role in shaping perceptions and is a constant reference point for actions and events.
At the level of perception and emotions of the people, history plays a far bigger role in the Indian subcontinent. The reason for this phenomenon is the continuing strength of the institution of family. Most Indians in rural setting, that is the vast majority, grow up surrounded by uncles and aunts and at the minimum grandparents. In such surrounding tradition and historical memories get passed on from generation to generation and form a very important part of makeup of an individual. History in India is therefore a live tradition and not some esoteric academic discipline. Roots of many of the current attitudes can be directly traced back to some historical influence.
In 1947, Kashmir, or more accurately the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was no different than other 560 states, of varying shapes and sizes that formed `princely India’. These princely states had treaty relations with the British and considerable independence to run domestic affairs. The rest of Indian subcontinent was directly administered by the British. In 1947, as British Paramountcy lapsed, these princely States were given a choice to join either India or Pakistan.
Archaeological finds in the Chenab valley at Akhnoor and in some areas of Rajouri as well as Mendhar date back to the Mohenjodaro-Harappa period of 3500 BC. There is also a school of thought led by the late Prof Wadia, Indologist, which believes that the Kashmir valley and the adjoining areas of Central Asia were the original homes of the Aryans. The struggle between Aryans and Dravidians, then based in Sindh, has been chronicled in the ancient `Puranas’ . Unfortunately, unsettled political conditions in Central Asia, resistance of their current Islamic regimes and apathy of the Indian government have all combined and lead to the neglect of research in these areas of history. Till positive and conclusive proof is found this will remain speculation at best, but comparisons of race and genetic mapping could yet prove the ancient link.
A definitive history of Kashmir dates back to the Ashokan era of 3rd century B.C. Later the area came under the Kanishkan Empire. Even today, coins of the Kanishka era turn up at various sites in Kashmir. Lalitaditya and Avativarman were the most famous Kashmiri kings. Avantivarman ruled from AD 855 to 883. The magnificent ruins of his capital at Avantipura, a few kms. South of Srinagar is a testimony to his rule. In the 13 century, Mohammed Gazni tried unsuccessfully to conquer Kashmir. He failed in the face of stiff local resistance.
Islam came to Kashmir as it did to most of the North-West, in the 14th century. Zain Ab Ul Din, who ruled from 1420-1470,is the most important Muslim ruler of Kashmir under whom the area prospered. He was a tolerant and secular ruler who encouraged the study of Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language and kept up the Kashmiri tradition of intellectualism.
In 1586, like the rest of northern India, Kashmir was conquered by the Mughals and became a Mughal province. With the decline of the Mughal Empire under Aurangzeb, the Afghans saw their opportunity and ruled Kashmir from 1750 till 1819. By all accounts this was the darkest period of Kashmir’s history. They ravaged the land and exploited its people mercilessly. The desperate people of Kashmir, both Hindus and Muslims, went in a delegation to Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore, the Sikh ruler of Punjab, to seek his help in ousting the Afghans. The Sikhs were successful in ousting the Afghans and thus the area came under General Gulab Singh. On defeat of the Sikhs by the British in 1846, they granted him the state for the help he gave them against the Sikhs. His successors ruled Kashmir till 1947.
LEGACY OF INTERNAL CHAOS.
Unlike other parts of the country, Kashmir is fortunate in having an authentic source of written history. Kalhana wrote his work, `Rajatarangini’ between 1148-1149 AD. He not only dealt with his own period but also compiled history based on available oral evidence of the happenings in the past centuries. Being from Kashmir, naturally his work is exhaustive and more complete in respect of Kashmir. Besides Kalhana, Chinese traveler Hsuan-tsang and Arab scholar Alberuni have contributed significantly to our understanding of Kashmir’s past. The most important periods of Kashmir’s history is mid eighth century, when Lalitaditya ruled Kashmir. He was a powerful King and launched raids as far down south as Kanauj (in Central India) and also established the towns of Poonch. The Martand temple built by him survives todate. He was a patron of art and science and a just ruler. The next important ruler of Kashmir was Avantivarman (AD 855-883). It was during his reign that an engineer Suyya widened the gorge through which the river Vitasta (now Jhelum) flows out of the valley. With this brilliant stroke the problem of waterlogging and flooding in the valley was greatly eased.
The next king of note was Zain -Ul-Abidin who ruled Kashmir from 1421 to 1472 AD. Though a follower of Islam , he was a tolerant ruler and encouraged the ancient arts and study of Sanskrit language.
Except for these three periods, history of Kashmir reads like a chronicle of mis-governance. Weak rulers followed each other in succession. Palace intrigues, murders and revolts were common with some kings gaining the throne for barely a month. The country was devastated by bandits and the soldiers and landlords became the kingmakers. In 1587 Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir and brought it under his rule. There followed a long period of 200 years of peace under iron rule. Kashmir for the Mughals was a pleasure garden in more than one sense. The Emperors from Akbar to Aurangzeb valued its natural beauty and often traveled there for rest. The Kashmiri women, famous for their beauty were another attraction for the Delhi nobility and many a bride were taken from here into the royal and other lesser harems.
As the Mughal Empire tottered under the blows it received at the hands of the Maraths in 18th century, in 1739, Kashmir came under the rule of Kabul. The Afghan rule was a repeat of chaos and barbarianism of earlier era. A joint delegation of Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus went to Lahore, the capital of Sikhs, who ruled most of Punjab , and sought his help to oust the Afghan tribes. Maharaja Ranjit Singh the Sikh ruler, ousted the Afghans and peace returned to the valley. In 1846 by treaty of Amritsar between the Sikhs and the British, Kashmir came into the possession of Sikh General Gulab Singh , who established the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is clear that despite its abundant resources and impregnable position, Kashmir did not enjoy peace except in patches. The only time that peace was established was when Kashmir was ruled by outsiders as a part of a larger empire.
The happenings of the early 14th century are typical of Kashmir’s history. Jaysimha who ruled from 1128 to 1155 was the last great Hindu ruler of Kashmir. While the rest of North India had succumbed to Muslim invaders , Kashmir remained independent mainly due to the difficulty of approaching the valley through the mountain barriers. After Jaysimha , Kashmir again reverted to its earlier chaos with the landlords asserting their independence and confining the king’s writ to the boundaries of his capital, Srinagar. It was under these conditions that Rinchan, a Tibetan chieftain, captured the valley in 1320 . The king Ramchandra was slain and Rinchan ascended the throne and also married queen Kota. Despite his efforts to convert to Hinduism, the orthodox Kashmiri Brahmins spurned the lowly born Rinchan who then turned to Islam. Rinchan died shortly thereafter and his trusted lieutenant Shah Mir instead of crowning Rinchan’s son, invited another Prince Udayandeva and made him a puppet King. Udayandeva married Kota and ruled for a few years before Shah Mir gathered sufficient strength and ascended the throne in 1338. The Queen Kota surrendered on the explicit assurance that she would share the throne with Shah Mir. But a legend that is prevalent has it that on the verge of her fourth `marriage’ the Queen stabbed herself to death. The early Muslim rulers were tolerant ones and permitted the people to practice their own faith. But gradually with the influx of Muslim clerics from outside, Kashmiri Islam began to change. During the reign of Sikandar Butshikan, Muslim orthodoxy asserted itself at the prodding of his own minister Suahbhat, a former Hindu and recent convert to Islam. Hindus were prevented from even cremating their dead and the magnificent temples of Martandeya and Avantipora were destroyed beyond recognition.
The story of vanity, barbarianism and backstabbing was later repeated in the twentieth century as well. The periodic frenzy on religious grounds also has its roots in the past. Is the history repeating itself?
There is a great danger of the government getting stampeded into actions in Kashmir that could result in long lasting damage, warns Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).
There is a rising tide led by the chatterati/twitterati, the so-called liberal opinion, as well as some political pressure, on the government to do ‘something’ in the wake of violence in the urban areas of Srinagar.
There is a great danger of the Indian government getting stampeded into actions that could result in long lasting damage.
At a smaller level, what one is currently witnessing in the Kashmir valley is a re-run of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s ‘direct action’ ploy in August 1947.
On April 4, 1979, in the wake of ousted Pakistan prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s execution in Pakistan, a mammoth public meeting was held at the Hazaratbal dargah in Srinagar.
A resolution was passed at that meeting condemning Pakistan and thanking Allah that Kashmir had made the right choice in 1947 in joining India.
There were mass protests in Kashmir and the property of pro-Pakistan Jammat-e-Islami cadres was attacked. Many prominent leaders of the pro-Pakistani Jamaat sought and were given shelter by the Indian Army, which saved their lives.
Feelings ran high against General Zia-ul Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator on whose orders Bhutto was hanged. Mobs in Srinagar shouted slogans demanding death for Zia.
In less than a decade, by 1986, the Kashmiri mood had changed totally.
Portraits of Zia-ul Haq in military uniform began adorning many Kashmiri homes and wayside tea stalls. Even the once marginalised Jamaat-e-Islami became a popular organisation.
To some extent, the popularity of the Jamaat and Zia can be understood as the consequence of the growing spread of Islamic fundamentalism all over the world.
This had much to do with the petro-dollars that began flowing into Kashmir after the oil boom that began in 1973 and the US-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia-led jihad after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
Many Kashmiri separatists invoke Sheikh Abdullah to justify separatism. But they gloss over the fact that after the 1971 War and Pakistani atrocities in then East Pakistan, Sheikh Abdullah came out clearly in favour of J&K being part of India.
Even Sheikh Abdullah suffered at the hands of fickle public opinion. From near sainthood, someone who blessed babies, his grave has to be protected from the wrath of mobs intent on its desecration.
The Kashmir Valley is thus no stranger to the emotional rollercoaster ride of public opinion. The current unrest is thus no different from its several earlier avatars like the 2010 agitation.
Before India takes any steps in the valley, some salient points/questions need to be understood and answered.
The first and most important point about the current unrest is the limited nature of its geographic spread.
The unrest and violence is confined to the Kashmir valley with not a squeak from the Jammu, Kargil and Ladakh divisions.
It needs to be clearly asserted that the separatists and their followers have no support in the rest of J&K. It is bogus for them to claim to be talking of J&K and its future.
When agitators in the valley chant ‘azadi‘ (freedom), in effect they want an independent Kashmir valley! The absurdity of this is not lost on the rest of the world. It is no surprise that the Kashmir agitation has not received any support from the world at large with the exception of Pakistan that wants all of J&K to merge with it.
The silence of the world media is due to logical fears that a tiny and unviable independent State of Kashmir will regress into a Da’esh or Islamic State den.
The ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the Kashmir Valley and slogans like ‘Sharia rule’ etc scare most countries. With the continuing campaign of terror worldwide, the Kashmiri cause of religion-based separatism has no takers.
Without global support Kashmiris have no hope of success. Pakistan has made three military attempts in the past to seize Kashmir, and failed. It will fail again should it try. That is the reality.
India guarantees freedom of faith and expression as a fundamental right to all citizens. It also promises equality before the law for all citizens.
As a result, India is home to all the world’s religions and over 180 million Muslims. If 180 million Muslims can be part of India, what is the basis on which the 4 or 5 million Muslims in the Kashmir Valley wish to secede?
India should set the record straight and equivocally declare that since it gives all the fundamental rights to its citizens, including Kashmiris, it rejects the demands for secession based on religious identity.
I recall a conversation I had with a Kashmiri school teacher during an army search operation near Sopore. I asked him what he meant by ‘azadi.’ Which is the freedom he did not have as an Indian citizen? Be it freedom of faith, expression, movement or economic activity?
His vague answer was that yes he has all these freedoms, but he wanted ‘Sharia’ rule to be imposed on all!
The real problem in Kashmir is unemployment. This is due to a population explosion and continued unrest driving away tourists and investment. Thus, there is a Catch 22-like situation.
Over time, some mosques in the valley have ceased to be places of prayer and instead become dens of political propaganda.
All over the world — even in Islamic countries — political preaching in mosques is prohibited. Unfortunately, governments in India have been chary of taking action against this misuse of religious places due to the fear of accusations of interfering with faith.
Stopping political sermons in mosques and shutting down the constantly playing of tapes of propaganda from loudspeakers is the need of the hour.
It is time we made it clear that secessionism is not a freedom movement and India will not accept another Partition on the basis of religion, whatever be the extent of popular support in some pockets of India like the Kashmir valley.
We have learnt this lesson from 1947. What good has Partition done for the minorities?
As a student of insurgency and terrorism world wide (Kashmir, Sri Lanka, North Eastern India, Chhatisgarh, N. Ireland and South Africa) for over 25 years, one is dismayed at the Indian scene. We seem to have outdone Ostrich in burying our heads in sands of time, and in learning nothing from our own history. The two factors that seem to persist are weakness of leadership and apathy of common people. Political correctness and inability to face the truth have hobbled our approach to this menace that if not controlled in time will destroy our economy and derail our ambition to become a developed country.
From the analysis of attacks by terrorists over the last 2/3 years, it is clear that they seek soft target and maximum kills. The Home Minister is on record of having come to the same conclusion. Now if crowded places, malls, temples, railway stations or any place where large number of people gather, are on terrorist’s radar then the number would be around 786,000. As is our current practice, to post policemen to guard these places ( with at least 10 men) we would need a police force seven times the present number ………….and only doing chowkidari. This is impossible. This leads us to the conclusion that there is no real defence against terrorism of this kind.
Besides posting chowkidars all over the country (usually after an attack), the other aspect of our method of tackling this problem is ‘Post Mortem Approach’. We come into action after an event, collect evidence, try to find the culprits and go for a wild goose chase. In the last 20 years of facing terrorism, we have not had a single case where the attack was thwarted at the planning stage and the conspirators punished. It is like training doctors who can only dissect dead bodies and can neither prevent an illness nor cure it. The ill-logic of our approach is clear as day light. Is it then any wonder that like the famous brand of plywood and court trials, terrorism in India chalta rahe …chalta rahe (goes on and on).
The terrorism that India faces has two clear aspects- organisations based in Pakistan (with or without government support) and their domestic followers misled by the factor of religious affinity, separatism & secession and utopian Marxism or Maoism. The recent open statements by the Jihadi leaders in Pakistan, threatening sporting events all over India and accusing India of ‘stealing rivers’ etc shows the depth and all out nature of this threat. It is an undeclared war. Domestically, besides the appeal to religion, thanks to the sickular Indian media, a persistent narrative of oppression has been created. In addition, there is the indoctrination by religious seminaries that India, their land of birth, is Dar Ul Harab or enemy country. This absolves the local traitor of any feeling of guilt in betraying his own country. In the case of secessionists as well a false sense of victimhood has been created in Assam. In the case of Naxalites, their leaders mouth slogans of ‘social justice’ and oppression of the poor tribal’s. But on the other hand go round blowing up schools, hospitals and roads and thwart any attempts to take development to the tribals. In a meeting with a Naxalite undergoing life term in Chhatisgarh in July 2006, I raised these very issues with him. His answer was revealing, “ We are NOT interested in tribals, our aim is to overthrow the present govt and bring in people’s republic. Tribals are a means to an end” .
Prescription to deal with Terrorism.
Dealing with the external element of terror campaign is complicated by the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and our attempt to take out the terrorists based there entails the risk of escalation to nuclear conflict. Pakistan has been skilfully exploiting this factor to stymie Indian reaction. Here we have to adopt indirect approach. Indian actions must be covert and paying back in same coin, Keeping Pakistan destabilized is good for us. In addition we have to follow a strategy of ‘isolation and containment’ in all its aspects. We have tried engagement for last 11 years and have produced no results. It is time we implement policy of ‘containment’ for some period to pressure the civil society to deal with extremists in their midst. The contacts with Pakistan have to be at a minimum level of avoiding war. Time is not ripe for conflict resolution.
Domestically, we have to have a special law to deal with terror conspiracies and arrest and punish would be terrorists BEFORE they strike. Our Home Minister is an eminent lawyer and I am sure he can conjure up a suitable law that has safeguards against misuse. From Morocco to Indonesia, every single country (including Pakistan) have special anti terror laws. We have seen how UK , Spain, and the US have arrested and sentenced people for conspiring to commit terror acts. CAN THOSE WHO OPPOSE AN ANTI TERROR LAW POINT TO SINGLE INSTANCE IN LAST 20 YEARS THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO NAB AND PUNISH TERRORISTS BEFORE THE ACT?
Even after a terror strike it is difficult to convict and punish a terrorist as the Qasab trial shows. It needs to be reiterated that the murderers of lat Rajiv Gandhi or the guilty for attack on Parliament and Mumbai blasts of 1993 could only be punished under the now extinct POTA/TADA a special law. In absence of this the perpetrators of Mumbai train blasts of 2006 and countless other terror acts are never going to be caught or punished.
In addition to these measures, like in Bihar (where the law and order has dramatically improved) we need to have stringent law against possession of illegal arms and explosives and implement it ruthlessly. If done properly, the terrorist may have the intent but will lack the means to carry out acts of terror.
This measure is a secular measure and makes no distinction between an Islamist, Hindu fanatic, naxalite or Assam secessionist. A minimum mandatory jail sentence of 10 years with no exceptions could well do the trick. These are simple and logical measures to deal with terrorism menace. If these are not being thought out then one has to come to sad conclusion that behind their Z-Plus security, the politicians are not interested in safety and security of ordinary citizens.
WHY EXCLUDE NORTH-EAST FROM IPL-4?
An Open letter to Shri Lalit Modi.
Colonel Anil Athale,
Chhatrapati Shivaji fellow studying internal security.
Dear Mr Lalit Modi,
I am a great admirer of you and the way you have put the IPL (Indian Premier League) on the top rung of world sporting events. The carping critics, and there are many, are shocked that cricketers are being offered huge monetary incentives or are ‘bought’ and ‘sold’. We Indians are hypocrites when it comes to money matters………Laxmi is the most favoured deity in all households and yet we claim to not want her……..
The IPL has done one thing for certain; it has broadened the spread of cricket. Earlier, with just one national team, the opportunity was limited. But now with so many teams, players from small towns and budding talents get their due.
But what impressed me most was the kind of spirit it has generated. So here we have MS Dhoni from Jharkhand captaining a Chhenai team and becoming hugely popular there. One also sees Sardar Harbhajan becoming a Mumabikar………with Mumbai Indians. There could not be a better counter to the SS or MNS or other parochial Senas . The IPL has contributed tremendously to national integration. For despite the nostalgia for the halcyon days of Hockey as ‘national game’ the fact today is cricket is our national game. It is here I feel that IPL can contribute positively by involving North Eastern India and help it join the national mainstream
I spent good month in the North Eastern states last year, meeting cross section of people. The dominant impression was that the people of North East are yearning to join the national mainstream. Any one who has travelled to those parts of our country will testify to the fact that the people of North East are some to the friendliest. Insurgency is long over there and in many respects, Kohima or Aizwal are far more peaceful and safe than Delhi, Hyderabad or Pune. To illustrate the sea change in the area, one instance sticks in mind. Captain Neikezhakuo, who hailed from Kohima in Nagaland, was awarded Mahavir Chakra (MVC) during the Kargil border conflict. Captain Neikezhakuo led his platoon to Tololing ridgeline overlooking an important army formation, ejected Pakistani regulars and re-captured the ridgeline in a five-day-long battle. But he lost his life in mortar shelling on June 18, 1999. When his last rites took place in Kohima, virtually the entire town turned up. Many newspapers commented that more people turned up for his funeral than even for the last journey of the legendary Naga leader ZA Phizo.
Unfortunately such is the ignorance of mainstream media and rest of the country that these landmark events are seldom noted or reported. You, Mr Modi have the chance to correct this. Why can’t the North East have a team in IPL-4? Why can’t we have some IPL matches played at Kohima, Imphal, Aizwal , Dibrugarh and Tezpur besides Guahati. All these places are connected by air and I am sure the state govt’s will be more than willing to ready stadia. The media exposure that the IPL will give to these beautiful places and people will boost tourism, economy and promote national integration.
Currently many businessmen pay hefty sums to insurgents in NE. Surely they can spare some of it to sponsor a cricket team! Also some time ago the BCCI and ICC (the Indian cricket board and international cricket council) talked of spreading cricket to China. Then why not to our own North East? Given the sterling sportspersons that these areas have produced I am sure the next Sachin Tendulkar could well be from Manipur!
As to the so called insurgency in North East, a ruling party politician had once confided to me that the NE states themselves make sure that there is some insurgency is kept on otherwise as he said, “Delhi will forget that North East ever exits!” Sad but true.
Mr Modi, here is your chance to make a lasting contribution to nation building that would be remembered by posterity. Just a thought, I think it is time you thought of making all teams play each other only once and not twice as is the practice now. One felt that too many matches would set in the law of diminishing return as far as public interest is concerned. By doing this you could induct more teams and variety.
I know it is a daunting task to plan for this at short notice, but if you could do the miracle of shifting the IPL -2 to South Africa last year at short notice, surely you can do this! And one last request, ban the racist players like Shohil Tanwir………….( see the video http://www.desivideonetwork.com/view/kg98vq199/sohail-tanvir-blames-hindus-for-ipl-snub) Cricket is a game of Gentlemen and not fanatics.
The LeT terror campaign is backed by the power and resources of a state. To compare this with the acts of a crowd of motley Hindu extremists is like equating chalk with cheese, says Colonel (retd) Anil Athale.
The recent controversy over a politician’s remark on ‘Hindu terror’ and another gem of invoking visions of an India and Hitler need to be dismissed with contempt they deserve. The former American Ambassador to India, David Mulford’s comment that Indian politicians can stoop to any level to garner votes is a ringing indictment of this tribe of politicians.
But such is the power of repetition of lies that there is a great danger of these becoming self-fulfilling prophesies and therefore need to be challenged. An even greater reason is that a politician in wilderness (and a former chief minister) has insinuated that (just like Pakistan) ‘saffron’ terror has infiltrated even the Indian armed forces. He approvingly quotes the example of a lone wolf rogue officer who is alleged to have got involved in terrorist acts. In the interest of national security, these wild assertions need to be challenged.
Terror threats that India faces:
As a multi-ethnic, religious and linguistic subcontinent, India faces many revolts backed by narrow ideologies. There is the separatist movement in Kashmir valley (not Jammu and Kashmir but only the valley), Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. In addition there is an on going unrest in heartland of India where the Communist insurgents want to overthrow the state and usher in ‘their’ version of ‘people’s republic’, popularly called Naxalites. All these movements indulge in use of terror tactics off and on.
In addition to the above, since last two years, a motley group of Hindu extremists have taken to ‘retaliate’ for the past acts of terror attributed to Islamist terror groups located in Pakistan and who receive some support from fringe element of Indian Muslims.
The groups like the Students Islamic Movement of India or its latest avatar, the Indian Mujahedeen, are essentially an extension of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
A brief look at statistics shows that in the last five years the LeT-led combine has carried out ten major attacks in which over 625 Indians have been killed and over 3,000 have been wounded seriously. Equally startling is the fact that so far not a single terrorist involved in these activities has been punished. Most of the investigations have reached a dead end or the perpetrators have fled to Pakistan. The alleged saffron terror is linked to four incidents in which over 19 people have lost their lives and a few score have been wounded.
But even more telling is the fact that the LeT-led campaign against India is essentially a joint enterprise with Pakistan Army (through the Inter Services Intelligence). While in all other insurgencies including the one in Kashmir valley, there is an element of external support (The Naga rebels do receive Chinese help), the LeT-led campaign is unique in that it is a virtual proxy war launched by one state against the other by using the tactic of deniability.
The Late Krishna Menon, India’s de facto foreign minister in the 1950s and early 1960s, was of the view that “Pakistan views partition as only a beginning. Her idea is to get a jumping off point to take the whole of India. Their minds work in this way — that it was from the Mughals that the British took over. Now that the British have gone back, the Muslims must come back.” (Breacher Michael, “India and World Politics: Krishna Menon’s View of the World”, Oxford, London , 1968. page 171)
Even the former Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharaf is on record to having admitting that even if Kashmir issue is resolved, relations with India would remain stormy.
The LeT terror campaign against India is thus backed by the power and resources of a state. To compare this with the acts of a crowd of motley Hindu extremists is like equating chalk with cheese.
Religious fundamentalism and terrorism: A tenuous link!
Even since Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden invoked religion to justify their terror attacks, the terrorism tag has been unfortunately put on the religion of Islam. A little introspection will show that the Al Qaeda’s newly found belief in the Islamic cause is fake. Osama never tires of invoking the cause of Palestine (and now even Kashmir) to justify his actions. But wasn’t the same Osama happily collaborating with the hated Americans through the decade of 1980’s in Afghanistan? Was America then not supporting Israel?
The truth is that Osama’s basic aim is to grab power in Saudi Arabia. He felt that he had an IoU from the Americans on this. But once the first Afghan war was over, the Americans apparently refused to oblige him. It is only then that he remembered the plight of Palestine/Kashmir.
A general study of 9/11 bombers or even the latest failed Time Square terrorist do not show much direct connection between religious fundamentalism and terrorism. None of these were typically religious people. An MIT study has also similarly shown that there no direct link between poverty and terrorism. Though undoubtedly, like the lone surviving terrorist of Mumbai attack did belong to a poor family, his motivations seem very clearly money!
The growth of religious fundamentalism can indeed provoke riots and disturb peace but by itself cannot lead to terrorism. It is true that riots or mob violence is bad, but it is a like a crime of passion, whereas terrorism is like a pre-meditated mass murder. It is necessary to clearly distinguish these two.
Terrorism that the world faces today is essentially a power struggle and proxy war to achieve this worldly aim. Religion is used only as a cloak to hide the true intentions, be it Osama or the LeT. Even the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan) is similarly out to grab power in that country.
It is unfortunate that the current political power struggle got the ‘Islamist’ tag because the terrorist’s themselves invoked religious sanction for their acts by selectively quoting from the holy book.
Luckily for the Indian subcontinent, the fact that in Pakistan in last five years there have been over 42 attacks on mosques and over 530 worshippers have been killed while performing namaaz. In the entire period of 63 years these many attacks have not taken place in India. The Indians who fall into the LeT trap must look at this reality and honestly answer the question whether they are safe in India or Pakistan?
One is aware that the incidents of the Gujarat riots in 2002 will be evoked. But the fact is that in these riots (according to the Union home ministry) 800 people lost their lives. Besides this, 232 (mostly from the majority community) were killed in police firing! When one alludes to the ghost of Hitler and German genocide of Jews, one must ask a question, were any Germans killed by their police for attacking Jews? Our modern politicians seem to have not read much history but have surely studied Gobbles’ quite thoroughly, and have succeeded in repeating a lie again and again to make it an established fact. This does not in any way condone partisan behaviour of the police or even inability of the government to control the violence quickly enough.
But the worst is the snide attempt to drag the armed forces into the controversy. One would like to remind these unworthies that the armed forces of India have always acted with utmost impartiality in these situations. If any one has doubt go and ask Kutubuddin Ansari, a tailor from Ahmedabad, who told this author with tears in his eyes that it was the timely arrival of the army that saved him and his family.
By sowing doubts about the integrity of armed forces whose interest is this person serving?
Colonel Anil Athale (retd)