India : Continued Terror Vulnerabilities
- UN Report blames India for inadequate anti terrorism preparedness. Highlights necessity to upgrade counter terrorism measures in all spheres on priority.
- Despite many protocols a joint counter terrorism strategy and functional mechanisms are found wanting with all regional countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Checking sources of financing for terrorist groups including the stock exchange route remains a problem.
- Application of threat warnings at the local level and intelligence adaptation is poor.
- Investigation in various bomb blasts including July 2006, Mumbai blasts which killed 187 personnel have not led to any conclusive arrests and perpetrators remain at large. This creates a high degree of assured invulnerability in prospective groups.
- No fly zone has been established at vulnerable nuclear facilities in the South. More needs to be done for preventing strikes on personnel and soft facilities.
India `s Poor Anti Terrorism Preparedness : Rap From UN
A confidential United Nations report has criticized India for low levels of anti-terrorism preparedness. This report has been prepared by the Counter Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council after a detailed survey of the terrorism preparedness of the country from a scrutiny of national laws to border check posts to judiciary to banks to police work and passports. In this comprehensive survey it was indicated that country`s laws on terrorist financing did not fully comply with UN Resolution 1373 adopted after the September 11, 2001 attack on the US. It was emphasized that terrorist financing in India occurs through informal channels including hawala, fake currency and drug trafficking. India`s law enforcement agencies also lacked a real time counter terrorism data base. The law and order and judicial differential between the prosecution agencies at the Union and State level also came up for criticism. There is no data base of personnel moving in and out of the country and laws for recording electronic evidence were also found lacking.
The need for comprehensive counter terrorism legislation has been recommended to encompass multifarious facets of the issue. Having a specialized threat analysis unit is also important. The judiciary system is also heavily clogged with over 30 million pending cases before Indian courts. With 10.5 judges per million compared with 107 per million in the US, there was no likelihood of clearance of these cases in real time.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) set up in March 2006 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, is not fully functional as it does not have the staff and abilities to enforce its writ. The role of donor agencies has also been castigated as it has been indicated that there are no comprehensive strategies in place to prevent terrorist organizations from posing as legitimate charities or to prevent diversion of funds. Lack of computerisation of the 76 border check points is also criticized as only 33 have such facilities. The challenge to a country with 15,100 kilometres of land border and a coastline of 7,500 kilometres is therefore enormous. ( Hindustan Times Report).
Comments. Ordinary Indians may not be aware of the level of terror threat faced by them. However the UN report is a most appropriate indictment of India`s counter terrorism policies and actions. There is no doubt that there is scope for considerable improvement at all levels of counter terrorism preparedness in all its facets from legal to financial controls which have not been fruitfully exploited so far by the administration. Hopefully India will now attempt to act more effectively to ensure that measures recommended by the UN are undertaken at the earliest else it will have largely unstable pockets of terrorist affected areas throughout the country creating instability. Some essential facets of terrorism and counter terrorism which need attention are covered in succeeding paragraphs.
Pan Indian Threat.
LeT founder Hafeez Muhammed Sayeed recently called for intensification of "jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan" to "strengthen Pakistan's Defence." While in Kashmir the call evoked sharp criticism, the Chief of Army Staff J J Singh said the security forces are ready to face any kind of eventuality and that their approach was not going to be different from what they are doing now. The call by the LeT which has a pan Indian presence needs to be addressed seriously. While the Army is well prepared to tackle militancy in the Valley, other areas of the country are vulnerable. Since the LeT`s reach is extended to the Indian hinterland, warning by the LeT commander cannot be easily wished away. More over LeT and other Pakistan based organisations as the JeM and Bangladesh based HUJI are networked with the Al Qaeda. Being extension of the Qaeda these can draw upon the extensive resources available at its disposal.
Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy.
In a globalized world, a major facet of a national counter terrorism strategy is the use diplomacy for enforcing controls on operations of militants from extra territorial boundaries. In the case of South Asia, this axiom is particularly true as India`s vulnerability to terrorism from other regional states be it state sponsored, supported or overlooked remains very high. This perhaps needs no elaboration. Amongst the many issues taken up by the Government with neighbours, one related to control of trans-border crime and fake currency racket from Nepal. Home secretary level talks were held in Kathmandu during the month where a joint task force was proposed to be established to control activities of criminal groups and militants and fake currency rackets. (PTI Report).
India also proposed fresh talks with Pakistan as part of an initiative to share information and intelligence on terrorist attacks. The Joint Counter Terrorism mechanism was to meet quarterly, but after its first meeting in Islamabad in March 2007 which focused on the bombing of Samjhauta Express that killed 68 people no further talks have taken place. India`s renewed appeal for reviving the Joint Counter Terrorism Panel with Pakistan assumes greater significance as Pakistan is rocked with more terrorist attacks and also news of Pakistan trained terrorists operating in Germany and Denmark were recently apprehended. Thus the incentives are as much for Pakistan as for India. A similar arrangement is essential with Bangladesh which was highlighted by the National Security Adviser M K Narayanan while speaking at the Sardar Patel Police Academy in Hyderabad.
The Seema Surksha Bal (SSB) on the other hand has revived the programme to provide weapons training to youths in border villages. The SSB is responsible for guarding the country's borders with Nepal and Bhutan. Weapons training and basic combat skills was being imparted to nearly 400 youths at Ranidanga near the Indo Nepal border. The aim is to make the border population part of a joint effort to defend the national frontiers.
Choking Terrorism Financing.
Sourcing finance for terrorism is seen to be quite easy in India . The National Security Advisor MK Narayanan had indicated possibility of terror groups investing in India`s stock markets at the Munich conference earlier in the Year. However the stock exchange authorities naively rejected such a possibility. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has recently alerted the government and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) about investments by Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi businessman with alleged links with Osama bin Laden, in Indian companies through stock markets. The SEBI has been asked to find out whether Khalid has been investing in India`s stock markets and raising funds to finance terror groups. (Sentinel Report). Comments. Terror financing has become a well oiled process, difficult to detect and has linkages with criminal syndicates. Technology has facilitated ease of investments most of which could remain innocuous. Investments in stock markets are an age old terrorist strategy to build up their coffers. Thus the possibility of terror funds making way to the stock markets remained high in India in particular which has a vibrant market and a very large investment community to track which is difficult. However by focusing on large transactions in odd shares, such a check can be imposed.
Threat Identification and Investigation.
Indian intelligence agencies at the national level have been providing adequate warning of terrorist threats in general to respective state and city police. However there is no expertise on the nuances of threat identification and proactive action to be taken at the local level. Some key pointers are usually ignored relating to location and timing. For instance, the coming festival season is particularly susceptible to terrorist attacks. While the Centre has alerted all states on a possible strike in crowded areas of major cities, action at the local level needs to be effectively taken to identify the vulnerable religious places in respective localities and take necessary preventive measures to avoid untoward incidents by proactive actions.
Famous pilgrimage places as Shirdi and Trimbakeshwar have now been placed on the hit list of terrorists. This along with Navratri and Diwali festive time could be considered as ideal for a terror strike. While intelligence agencies have been issuing warnings to the state police, implementation of preventive measures are tardy. Considering the threat to the holy places, security has to be stepped up and precautions taken to avoid any untoward incident. Past attempts at stoking violence by targeting religious sentiments has not evoked a response so far. With the Shirdi and the Trimbakeshar sites being highly sensitive to sentiments of various communities, this may result in a major back lash.
The progress in investigation in the August 25 twin-blasts that rocked Hyderabad is also very tardy. As of now apart from releasing photos of suspects and arresting the brother of another suspect the police have not been able to discover the roots of this terrorist act. Lack of proactive policing was also evident with the discovery of six unexploded bombs in a Mumbai suburb on 26 September at the nick of time. The entire metro was engrossed in twin celebrations, India`s Twenty20 world title victory and Ganapati Festival. This discovery avoided what could have been a major tragedy apart from stoking up a highly sensitive communal cauldron. Lack of success by the Indian police to crack a single case of terrorist attack in the country over the past one year or so, despite extensive leads and casualties is alarming. This indicates that terror strikes are regular and will continue in the days ahead even as the Government attempts each time to place the blame on Pakistan.
Conclusion : A Counter Terrorism Doctrine
India lacks a comprehensive counter terrorism doctrine which can synergize concepts, identify strategies and processes required to comprehensively defeat terrorism. Presently such a unifying document is in the draft stage. An early publication will facilitate focus on evolving strategies at the national, state and local level to combat the menace of terrorism which is taking heavy toll in terms of lives and scarce national resources. What is of greater concern is that terrorism is now being adopted as a means to gain political ends with impunity by a vast multitude of population in the country. There is a need to stem the flow by adopting measures recommended by the UN in Counter terrorism resolutions from time to time.
(SAST October 2007).
India `s Terror Travails: The Biggest Threat to Growth
- Hyderabad bomb blasts kill 44. Terrorism emerges as the biggest challenge to India`s growth and development.
- State continues to ignore various strands of terrorism including Al Qaedism providing fertile ground for terrorist groups to operate in the country with impunity.
- Al Qaeda gives a call to its fighters to wage war against the Indian state making Kashmir as its focal point.
- Unless multi pronged measures to control spread of terrorism are taken, the growth will manifest in many forms affecting overall development.
- Communal and caste rioting raises ugly head in Gohana in Ahmedabad, Godhra in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Terrorism India `s Biggest Challenge to Growth and Development
That Terrorism is a major challenge facing India was well known, however the State had not accepted it attempting to play the down the threat on the specious plea that over reaction to a terrorist threat contributes to the aura that terrorists want to create. This attitude is also facilitated by Indian culture of conflict avoidance through an ostrich like approach. The larger context of terror amnesia in India was highlighted by a report in the Times of India which claimed that 3,674 lives had been lost in the country to terrorism-related violence which exceeded the combined total of North America, South America, Central America, Europe and Eurasia. 8,430 were injured and 2,070 taken hostage in India, taking the total number of direct victims of terror to over 14,000 in a little over 3,000 incidents in three years three months.
43 unfortunate citizens of Hyderabad suffered from the proclivity of the state to brush terror under the carpet as two powerful blasts ripped the city, one at Lumbini Park an amusement centre, regarded as India's biggest laser show arena and a prominent eatery, Gokul Chat at Sultan Bazar in Koti on 25 August. While the first was very near a high security zone, the second was near the communally sensitive old city. Unexploded bombs were also discovered in a movie theatre in Narayanaguda and in Dilsukhnagar. The blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat Bhandar were triggered by cell-phone timers. The trends of bomb attacks in Jammu and Kashmir had clearly indicated the use of cell phone triggers by militants. The Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad in May had also used cell phones as triggers. Despite all these indications, the terrorists succeeded in their mission with no trace of the culprits so far.
Central security agencies claimed that Karachi-based commander of banned Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HUJI), Abdul Sahil Mohammed, was the mastermind. He had been using internet chat rooms to plan the attacks. Ammonium nitrate-based explosive was suspected to have been used with each bomb packed with 1.25kg to 1.5kg of Neogel-90, made by the Nagpur-based Amin Explosives Pvt Ltd. Neogel-90 is not known to have been used in terror attacks in India, but there have been two seizures from suspected Naxalite in Kerala and Nepal. The explosives used bear a striking similarity to those employed by Mohammed Bilal of the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HUJI), who played a key role in the two earlier blasts.
Major Bomb Blasts in India after 9/11 are as given below:-
- Oct. 1, 2001 - Militants storm the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly complex, killing about 35 people.
- Dec. 13 - 13 people, including five gunmen, killed in an attack on parliament in New Delhi.
- Sept. 24, 2002 - Militants with guns and explosives attack the Akshardham temple in Gujarat, killing 31 people and wounding more than 80.
- May 14 - Militants attack an army camp near Kashmir's winter capital, Jammu, killing more than 30, including wives and children of soldiers.
- March 13, 2003 - A bomb attack on a commuter train in Mumbai kills 11 people.
- Aug. 25 - Two almost simultaneous car bombs kill about 60 in Mumbai.
- Aug. 15, 2004 - Bomb explodes in Assam, killing 16 people, mostly schoolchildren, and wounding dozens.
- Oct. 29, 2005 - 66 people are killed when three blasts rip through markets in New Delhi.
- March 7, 2006 - At least 15 people are killed and 60 wounded in three explosions in the pilgrimage city of Varanasi.
- July 11 - 187 people are killed in seven bomb explosions at railway stations and on trains in Mumbai, blamed on Islamist militants.
- Sept. 8 - At least 32 people are killed in a series of explosions, including one near a mosque, in Malegaon town, 260 km northeast of Mumbai.
- Feb. 19, 2007 - Two bombs explode aboard a train bound from India to Pakistan, burning to death at least 66 passengers, most of them Pakistani citizens.
- May 18, 2007 - A bomb explodes during Friday prayers at a historic mosque in Hyderabad, killing 11 worshippers. Police later shoot dead five people in clashes with hundreds of enraged Muslims who protest violently against the attack.
- August 25, 2007 - Two bombs explode in Hyderabad, at Gokul Chat Bhandar and Lumbini Park killing 42 persons. (Based on reports in Reuters web site and confirmations)
Despite these large number of incidents and mass casualties, India`s counter terrorism response is notable by lack of a doctrine. Politics plays an important role in India`s counter terrorism battle. Thus the reaction remains as much dependent on the alignment of the government of the day in a state as it does on the effectiveness and efficiency of the police force. There is no doubt that there is support moral and infrastructure support from across India`s borders. States inimical to India`s interests feel that the terror weapon used under the shadow of strategy of deniability provides them enough leverage against India. Such policies are not new to South Asia. However what is strange is that while diplomacy is a part of India`s counter terrorism policy, it has not been effectively used against other states, be it Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar or Nepal. Joint counter terror mechanisms are in existence, however these are not result oriented and are process driven talking shops. Despite concrete evidence, deniability is a normal tactic followed by India`s neighbours and New Delhi has not been able to pin the blame at the doors of Dacca or Islamabad, this despite availability of substantial proof including location of terrorist camps in both these countries. (Details of camps in Bangladesh have been provided at www.security-risks.com an open source information web site on South Asia). Yet India has not succeeded in enforcing closure of these sites.
Of greater concern is the fertile ground provided to terrorist organizations to flourish. This is a combined function of deficient policing in terms of inefficiencies, ineffectiveness and numbers. Political considerations also dictate policing. Apprehensions of alienating vote banks be it of majority or minority community frequently dictates authorization to police to take action. Thus even suspects of terrorist acts are routinely let off based on political considerations.
There are many reasons for a weak response to terrorism in India. The criminal investigation and judicial system is extremely frail. Thus it was only on 1 August 2007, that a sessions court held banned Al Umma founder S.A. Basha guilty of "conspiring and transporting bombs" in the 1998 bombings in Coimbatore in which 58 people were killed. 19 bomb blasts had rocked the city on 14 Feb 1998, during then deputy prime minister L.K. Advani's election tour. The blasts also injured 250 people and caused loss of property worth Rs.140 million. Abul Nasser Mahdhani, chief of Kerala-based People's Democratic Party was acquitted after being lodged in jail for eight years. Mahdhani is an influential leader of the minority community who had sought bail from Madras High Court on health grounds and was given special facilities once M. Karunanidhi government came to power in Tamil Nadu in May 2006. The clout of Mahdani was evident with the Kerala assembly passing a unanimous resolution seeking the release of Mahdhani on "humanitarian grounds". The irony is not just the political pressure brought about in this case but that a person can be wrongfully confined for over eight years or is it that the prosecution deliberately failed to bring enough evidence to the courts to find him guilty.
The case of under world criminal and terror operator Dawood Ibrahim is also very curious. He is charged with numerous offences including that of master minding the Mumbai Terror blasts of 1993. Dawood is reportedly living a sheltered life in Pakistan along with his compatriots Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel. The ISI has long used Dawood as a terror operator and criminal financer in India to undermine the state in many spheres given his vast criminal network particularly in Mumbai, the financial capital. Despite a red corner notice by Interpol, Pakistan has been denying Dawood`s presence in the country. The issue came under discussion between the US and Pakistan recently when Washington asked Islamabad to arrest him. However it was indicated that Dawood was not a Pakistan citizen and thus not living in the country. "Nobody by the name Dawood Ibrahim has been arrested by the security forces," Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesperson Brig (Retd) Iqbal Cheema told a media briefing, "He is not in Pakistan and there is no truth in reports of his arrest in Quetta," He went on to state, "But he is an Indian national, the UN lists him as an Indian, and he should be looked for in India. As far as my knowledge goes, he is not in Pakistan," In an era of globalization, inter state movement of personnel who have the shelter of a government and particularly its intelligence agency can go unnoticed and citizenship is hardly an issue under these circumstances. Suffice to say the Indian state has not been able to pin down Pakistan on the Dawood Ibrahim case.
Another significant issue is the manner in which the Indian establishment is handling the threat of Al Qaeda. The terrorist Organization recently threatened to target India accusing the nation of "killing more than 100,000 Muslims in Kashmir with US blessing". A video released recently indicated that, "the targeting of Tel Aviv, Moscow and Delhi" is also "our legitimate right". This is not the first time that the Al Qaeda has given a call for waging a terrorist attack against India. A detailed assessment of the tapes later indicated that the call for jihad in Kashmir by the Al Qaeda was led by the deputy Zawahiri. The Indian Express while analyzing the case has brought out that until now, only Pakistan had questioned the activities of Indian consulates in Afghanistan but, this is the first time Al-Qaeda has openly objected to Indian missions in Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad for their "alleged machinations" in supporting the American action in Afghanistan. This is also the first time that the terror group is equating Hindus with "Zionists" and exhorting members to target Indian interests along with those of US, Russia and Israel. (http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/209991.html). The Al Qaeda may be more than serious this time given that it seeks support of Pakistan based terrorist groups operating in Kashmir such as the LeT and the JeM in its fight for survival against US initiated drive against terrorism now being played out in Pakistan.
The government should accept that terrorism is a networked threat and Al Qaeda need not have a presence in India for a direct peril to manifest, it could be through its vast support network of organizations. That Al Qaeda may not be in the country but Al Qaedism has taken roots was also evident with the premature declaration of 15 Arakanese Muslims from Myanmar, arrested in Moreh on the Indo Myanmar border as Al-Qaeda members. This was done without any formal investigations or concerns.
The episodic nature of counter terrorism measures in India was evident with security exclusion across the nation on Independence Day, 15 August. In the capital New Delhi, 70,000 policemen and paramilitary troops were deployed at government buildings, diplomatic enclaves and main intersections. Each year the Indian police seek to sanitize the area around the Dias where flag hoisting is to take place and the concentric rings are ever expanding. This time an aerial alert was also sounded not just in the Capital, Delhi where such a practice is routine but also to the state governments to specially observe any unusual aerial activity to include, "remote controlled toy aero planes laden with explosives as an indigenously designed missile to hit distant targets."
The approach to terror financing is also indicative of not just lack of information of the manner in which terrorist organizations garner funds but also considerable dichotomy within the government establishment. Thus a few months back, the National Security Adviser, Mr. M K Narayanan in the Munich security conference had indicated that terrorists were laundering funds through stock markets. The Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram on the other hand responded in the parliament on 17 August in a written reply that, "The government has consulted the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The information available to the government does not indicate any surreptitious entry by terrorist outfits." (Economic Times Report). This statement ignores the standard processes that organized criminals have been using to launder money on the stock market such as, `pump and dump` to artificially raise prices.
That the police force is not employed based on threat analysis was also evident with the entire police machinery from village to the state level in Andhra Pradesh either deployed for anti Naxal operations or on VIP security apart from routine crime control activities. This deployment neglected the warnings received from the Home Ministry that Hyderabad continues to be on the terror hit list before and after the previous attack on Mecca Masjid. The somnolence of the state had been passed down to the police whose priorities seem to be totally different than what the threats indicated. Other reports also indicated that the twin blasts could have been averted if the police had been allowed to pick up some of the jihadi foots soldiers who have found a sanctuary in pockets of the Walled City.
The police have to neutralize terrorist cells which have established comfortably across the span of the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in league with the local outfits as the SIMI. The counter terrorism mechanism in India has to gear up to face the emerging challenges as the present organization and capabilities are pathetic. This has to be supplemented by effective policing at the grass roots. At both levels there are major anomalies resulting in continued attacks by terrorists in the Indian hinterland. Capacity building of the police forces and awareness amongst the masses are two principal measures which need to be ensured in the fight against terrorism in India. Thus far both these remain principal weaknesses providing terrorist groups adequate space to operate with impunity.
Ironically the problem is not of funding. As per MHA Annual Report, in 2006-07, a huge sum of Rs 1067 Crore (Approximately $ 250 million plus) was allotted to the states for combating terror with the focus being on Jammu and Kashmir, North East and Naxal affected states. Almost the same amount was allotted for all years starting from 2000-01 onwards, adding up to Rs 7000 Crore or $ 1.8 Billion. This is in addition to the normal police budget. However as there is no linkage between capacity building and expenditure, results are not evident. (SAST SEP 2007)
INDIA : SURVIVING COMMUNALISM AND TERRORISM
- Inter faith and sect clashes in Punjab and Rajasthan mark extensive rioting during the month.
- A major terrorist attack in Hyderabad leads to death of 13 personnel.
- A second bomb attack in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh but casualties are limited.
- SEZ Singur sees rioting in West Bengal.
- Two Indian workers kidnapped in Nigeria.
Clashes in Punjab
The Month of May saw clashes in Punjab spreading to other parts of the country as people of the majority Sikh faith objected to Dera chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim portraying himself in the attire of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and inserting advertisements in newspapers saying that he would give nectar to his disciples. Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, however in a press statement denied that he had tried to copy Sikh Gurus in any way. He said that his aim was to bring peace and brotherhood in the world. (Daily Pioneer Report). The clashes between the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa and Sikh organizations began in Bathinda on 14 May and spread to other parts of the country on 15 May, as violent mobs damaged over a dozen vehicles, including an ambulance, in Bathinda. At least 30 persons, including two Punjab Police personnel, were injured where over 10,000 followers of Dera Sacha Sauda attacked the police forcing them to run for shelter. (Daily Pioneer Report).
The Akal Takht demanded an unconditional apology from the Dera chief. The Dera expressed regrets over the incident first but this did not assuage the clergy, who insisted on an unconditional apology. He then tendered an apology directly to Guru Gobindsingji in a face saving exercise and finally only on repeated insistence faxed a copy to the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committtee offices on 27 May, the last day of the deadline provided by the Sikh clergy. This has so far partially satisfied the clergy.
Social Reengineering Not Confrontation
Sikh religious politics is an extremely volatile issue. The rituals, dress and attire codes in the religion are strict. Sikhs also believe in the sanctity of the gurus. The present crisis has erupted as the Baba of Dera Sauda is accused of imitating the 10 th Guru, Guru Gobind Singhji. The Dera, is a sub sect of followers in North India which was set up in 1948 by Shahenshah Mastana in Sirsa, and draws its support mainly from Dalits and the economically backward in north India. It has been able to expand its base due to its ideology of equality, which many say is more liberal than mainstream religions. The sect, also claims it does not accept any donation, doesn't believe in caste or religion. Ram Raheem, who was born in Srigurusarmodia in Sriganganagar in 1967, into a family of landlords, took over from Shah Satnam Singh in 1990. He as well as the organization are controversial and a CBI enquiry is reported against them.
The present spate of violence has political as well as religious overtones as both the Congress and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab have been using religion to win support of the people. The confrontation between the Dera and the Sikh clergy was imminent as the Sikh clergy is apparently taking the incident as an opportunity to cut down the proliferating activities of the Dera particularly its influence in the masses in Punjab. While the demand for closure of the Deras is not likely to be implemented apart from being wholly illegal, the stand off may have an impact on the overall socio-religious dynamics in Punjab, which the Sikh clergy hopes will reduce the popularity of the follower ship of the Dera. The underlying crisis however denotes that the need for social reengineering of society in Punjab as well as other Indian states to provide equity to the lower economic and social classes which seek solace away from main stream religious groupings in fringe elements as the Dera.
Dausa - The Gurjar Agitation
Violence raged over much of Eastern Rajasthan starting with the death of 13 people, including a policeman killed on 29 May and at least 100 injured in clashes and police firing in three districts of Rajasthan during protests by the Gurjar community over grant of Scheduled Tribe status in the state. Six bodies were found in Gangapur city, Bayana and Mahua in Dausa and neighbouring Karauli district and seven bodies in Bundi, were sent for post mortem. Highways linking Jaipur with Agra , Delhi , Kota and Sawai Madhopur were blocked by angry demonstrators and the Army was deployed on Jaipur-Dausa-Agra and Kota-Jaipur national highways. The Army also staged a flag march on the Jaipur-Dausa highway where no traffic was being allowed. The protestors were demanding that the Gurjar community be shifted from OBC to Scheduled Tribe category.
Agitation by the Gujjar community focused on grant of Scheduled Tribe status which will facilitate easier recruitment in government including security forces jobs than as Scheduled Caste as at present. The issue is as much political as ethnic with the present state government having promised consideration of ST status to the Gujjars but failing to take definitive measures for the same. The atmosphere is extremely volatile and it will take some time for tempers to cool. By the end of the month, the simmering discontent resulted in clashes between the Gujjars and Meenas in the state, the latter already granted ST status were fearful of infringement in their reservation quota.
Blasts Kill 13 In Hyderabad Mosque attack
A powerful crude bomb exploded during Friday prayers at the historic Mecca mosque in Hyderabad on 18 May, killing 13 persons and injuring 30 others, including two children. Two live bombs were also detected from the spot soon after the explosions and were defused. The explosion occurred where the faithful perform ablutions before going for prayers. The injured, some of them bleeding profusely, were rushed to Osmania and other hospitals by the worshippers in whatever modes of transport they could arrange. (Media Reports).
Expired SIM cards are reported to have prevented a grave tragedy. Three of the four mobile phone bombs placed at the Masjid, failed to explode because their SIM cards had expired and hence could not complete the circuit needed as per a DNA report. Police sources indicate that the death toll would have been over 200 if the other bombs had also exploded. All the three SIM cards had been disconnected a couple of days back after the bills were unpaid. The bombs bear a striking similarity to the one that exploded in Malegaon killing 37 people. The police have also confirmed that this was a planned terrorist attack. (DNA and other Media Reports).
The terrorist blast in Hyderabad was anticipated as the general trend shows that such an event occurs once in every two months in the country. Hyderabad with its communal composition is an ideal target for militants who wanted to create mayhem in the population. That there were adequate warnings to the police was admitted by the Chief Minister as well as the police in Hyderabad . The date and day was expected as the Tableegi Jaamat was to hold a major congregation in Hyderabad on 19 May, expected to be attended by some 2 Lakh Muslims. However the people for once did not react in a polarized manner by targeting members of particular communities. The police were also quick to ensure that the mobs were not allowed to gather at places for long and took effective measures to block people from reaching the flash point. The blast once again underlined the vulnerability of Indian main stream metros to terrorist attacks and the need for effective policing.
SEZ : Protests Continue in West Bengal
The problems of SEZs in West Bengal once again came to the fore when violence erupted at the Tata Motors plant site in Singur on 20 May. Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at Krishi Jami Rakhsha Committee activists when they hurled bombs and brickbats in a bid to enter the area. IGP (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said here that activists of the Committee, who gathered at Bajemelia for a "law violation" programme under the leadership of local Trinamool Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Committee convener Becharam Manna, tried to break a police cordon in a bid to proceed to the Tata Motors' site.
The acquisition of land for Special Export Zones in West Bengal has been extensively politicized making it an extremely volatile issue. Reports indicate that the Naxalite are also exploiting the grievance of the people to advantage and have made inroads in areas such as Nandigram, where a petrochemical SEZ was to be established but which has now been cancelled. Providing adequate compensation to the farmers who are being displaced would contribute to depoliticizing the issue which needs to be examined by the state authorities.
Terrorism and Counter Terrorism - Bomb Blasts in Gorakhpur
Six persons were injured in serial blasts in the city of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh on 22 May. Initial reports said there were bomb blasts in Golghar Market, Jalkhal building and Ganeshpur crossing one after the other. Police said the crude bombs were kept in tiffin boxes in new cycles. The first bomb went off at around was followed by other two in gap of five minutes. The bomb attacks denoted use of sophisticated timer devices to detonate three low-intensity bombs. The bombs kept in tiffin boxes and tied to cycles went off at five minutes interval after 7 pm, near Baldev Plaza, Ganesh crossing and Jalkal building in the busy Golghar area. 10 kg of explosives and 20 litres of ammonium nitrate were recovered from Faizabad station on 23 May. This is close to the Ram Janambhoomi site near Ayodhya a religious flash point.
The need for effective counters to terrorist threat in India has yet to be evolved. Penetrating terror cells, surveillance and vigilance at religious places and other possible targets across the country is the answer to the continued danger of a terrorist attack in the country. The police will do well to enhance the capability for intelligence collection and pre-emptive penetration of terrorist cells along with vigilance on the ground as in Jorhat to defeat the scourge affecting India for over two decades now. Indian workers in terror prone and unstable hot zones as Nigeria also need to be provided adequate security cover to ensure that they are not subjected to the vestiges of gangs operating in some parts of the country.
Modernisation - Para Military Forces
Home Ministry sources indicated through a written reply by the Minister of State for Home, in Rajya Sabha that modernization plan for the para-military forces to provide them better-quality arms and ammunition, strategic equipment, vehicles, state-of-the-art communication, surveillance and body protection suits, is under implementation. Latest modern technologies with respect to these items are being introduced for the modernization process. The expenditure on modernization is met out of the regular provisioning budget provided to the para-military forces. During the last 3 years, the total budget allocated for provisioning was Rs. 4654.72 crore and out of this an amount of Rs. 1292.34 crore was spent on modernization. (MHA Press Release).
A matter of concern is not just allotments but utilization of funds with a view to addition to capacities. Accretions are seen more in terms of numbers rather than capacity of forces to combat varied threats that have emerged over the years which challenge the police and para military forces across the country. Lack of audit of capacity building appears to be a major draw back in modernization of police and para military forces in India.
Indian Workers Kidnapped in Nigeria
Militants in Nigeria`s Port Harcourt region kidnapped two Indian petrochemical workers from their residence. The militants originally seized 10 workers but the military rescued seven, an army spokesman said. A Nigerian driver was killed in the incident. Efforts for release of the personnel are underway. Nigerian oil belt is notorious for kidnapping and extortion. The Chinese had been vulnerable to the threat by such groups and a number of them have also been killed. This is the first such attack involving Indians working for the Indonesian company Indo Rama controlled by an Indian group.
SAST JUNE 2007
TERRORISM, COMMUNALISM AND LAW AND ORDER
- Update provided by MHA indicates continued threat of terrorists in the country with inimical groups active in Pakistan and Bangladesh .
- Three suspected ultras apprehended in the capital.
- Criminal justice system likely to be reviewed as per report by Home Minister in the cabinet.
- Osama CDs reported in Patna and other parts of rural Bihar .
- Indian members of parliament alleged to be involved in human trafficking.
Terrorism - New Delhi
Delhi Police is reported to have arrested three militants, including one Pakistani national, belonging to the LeT, from the Dilli Haat shopping arcade in the national capital on 26 April. The three militants, two of them Kashmiris, were arrested from the popular ethnic shopping hotspot Dilli Haat by a team of the Special Cell of Delhi Police. Among the seizures made from the ultras included 2 kg RDX, a detonator and some hand grenades, Joint Commissioner of Police, Karnal Singh informed. They were reportedly planning to target some market places in the capital.
( http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1093073 )
A follow up report in DNA India indicated that arrest of three Lashker-e-Taiba militants seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. Interrogation revealed that these terrorists were working on the instructions of Abu al-Qama, the mastermind of the 2005 pre-Diwali blasts in the capital, and had possibly come on a recce mission here. It also came to light that there was one more person, possibly a LeT operative, at the Dilli Haat who was tasked with taking the Pakistani militant to a hideout in the capital after collecting the explosives. Police suspect they were planning to target the 150th anniversary celebrations of the 1857 uprising to be held at the Red Fort in May. ( http://www.dnaindia.com ).
Osama CDs in Patna - Bihar
CDs containing speeches by Osama Bin Laden in Arabic language with English sub titles were available in Patna , the capital of Bihar . The speeches urged Muslims to join the Jihad or holy war. CDs were also seen in rural pockets of Patna and adjoining Bhojpur. Two suspects in 11 July 2006 , Mumbai terror blasts are said to have been arrested from Madhubani in Bihar thereby indicating presence of fundamentalist elements in the state mired in poverty and underdevelopment.
The recovery of Osama Bin Laden`s CDs in Bihar is a serious issue which needs to be closely investigated. The influence of such propaganda in Bihar which has a sizeable Muslim population and is under developed can be considerable and adequate measures to check the spread are essential.
MHA Reports on Terrorist Threats in India
An update on terrorist threats in India prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) India indicated that terrorists were entering the country from Bangladesh , Nepal and West Asia . This was conveyed to a meeting of chief secretaries convened by the cabinet secretary. The MHA indicated that Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, mainly the Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) and Jaish e Mohammad (JeM), are using their "still intact" infrastructure in Pakistan/PoK to extend their tentacles to the hinterland. These organizations were operating apart from Jammu and Kashmir in UP, Karnataka and Maharashtra . Infiltration was also not fully under control as per MHA assessment. The strategy of the terrorist outfits in the hinterland comprised of well-calibrated violence against soft targets; attempts to undermine economic and scientific prowess; subversion of minority youth; provoking communal tension via local outfits; bringing in hardware through land and sea routes; and terror financing said an Economic Times report. Surrogate bases in Bangladesh , Nepal and to some extent, even in the Gulf were used to sneak in terrorists and route terror funds. Infiltration in batches into Bihar from the Indo-Nepal border, into Gujarat from the Indo-Pakistan border and into West Bengal from the Indo-Bangladesh border was also reported.
Harkat ul Jehad Islami (Bangladesh), having strong links with JeM and LeT, was said to be recruiting Indian youth, sending them to Pakistan for arms training and re-inducting them into India via Bangladesh for carrying out terrorist attacks. Local outfits like SIMI were providing logistics for attacks. Counter terrorist measures suggested included strengthening special branches, besides improving co-ordination between central intelligence agencies and the special branches to enable elimination of sleeper modules. 669 such terror modules and sleeper cells were busted between 2004 and 2006 as per a report. Police modernization, filling up of vacancies in the state police and greater police-public co-ordination for improved ground-level intelligence were the other measures suggested. ( http://economictimes.indiatimes.com)
The threat of domestic terrorism in India has been increasing each day. However lack of a coordinated approach and grass roots level efficiency and effectiveness has resulted in continued proliferation. While the MHA has been providing adequate warnings, action at the state level has not been effective in controlling the spread. The latest warning along with inputs for counter terrorism suggested by the MHA should provide impetus to the states to enhance policing to check the menace. A Counter Terrorism doctrine prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the concept paper of which had been presented to the Cabinet Committee on Security needs to be issues at the earliest to provide states common guidelines for implementation. A standards on security efficiency and audit needs to be prepared for benchmarking policy effectiveness. It is only through comprehensive measures as outlined above can terrorism be controlled in the country.
Threat on Southern Coast
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr Karunanidhi issued a stern warning to the LTTE to keep off the Tamil coast. This follows reports of many consignments of explosives and landmines located on the coast line. A report in the Tribune indicated that the Indian Navy is on full alert and totally geared up to thwart any possible attacks by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or any other forces in the Bay of Bengal off the Tamil Nadu coast. Commodore Peter E. Vanhaltren, Naval Officer-in-Charge, Tamil Nadu, told The Tribune, "We are fully prepared and our war ships patrolling the area are geared up to deal with any kind of threat. During the last two weeks sea patrolling and air surveillance has been increased." The Indian Navy has a naval air base at Uchipalli, south of Rameswaram, which is the closest point in India to Sri Lanka and Jaffna , the base of LTTE. All seven naval detachments on the Tamil Nadu coastline have been equipped with nine radars to detect intrusion into the Indian air space. (http://www.tribuneindia.com/)
Surveillance on the Tamil Nadu coast has been enhanced by the Indian Navy by installing radars at seven places covering Rameswaram, Thondi, Jagathapattanam, Mallipattnam, Kodiyakkari, Thopputhurai and Nagapattinam. Indian Air force had fixed eight radars at Seeniappa Dargah Casurina jungle near Sundaramudaiyan village in Ramanathapuram district.
Review Criminal Justice System
The Union home minister Shivraj Patil in a debate in the Lok Sabha indicated that there are plans to introduce significant changes in the criminal justice system, including incorporation of provisions for compensation to victims of crime. A draft is likely to be circulated by the Central government on this account shortly. Other changes are being asked for from human rights groups and others related to protection of witnesses and effecting strong deterrent against communal violence. Victim protection and compensation was one of the major aims of this review as per Patil.
The criminal justice system and law and order in India is a concurrent subject, thus the central government and the states have joint responsibility which has rendered an ineffective response. A more coherent response by focusing on threats such as terrorism is called for, which is probably the aim of the review.
Indian Members of Parliament - Human Trafficking
Baburam Katara, Ramswaroop Koli, Mohammad Tahir Khan were named in an alleged case of human trafficking exploiting the diplomatic immunity of their passports as members of the Indian parliament. The racket was exposed when Baburam Katara was apprehended while taking an unknown woman and a boy on passports of his wife and son to Toronto , Canada .
Human trafficking has been a major problem as the line up for Indians to move to greener pastures is very long. However the present incidents have exposed the scale of this racket involving members of the parliament and total violation of diplomatic immunity granted .
(SAST MAY 2007)
TERRORISM AND INTERNAL SECURITY : NEW VULNERABILITIES
- Terrorism portends in the hinterland in India continue to be a reason for alarm. A number of cells are uncovered in the probe following blasts in the Samjhauta Express.
- Maritime terrorist threats - Increased hazards to coastal and off shore assets anticipated.
- Special Economic Zones - Delays in clearance of projects anticipated as policy is likely to be reviewed.
Spreading Network of Terror
The spreading network of terrorism in the hinterland was evident during the probe into the Samjhauta Express blasts which killed 68 personnel in Panipat in February 2007. The police team investigating the blasts found clues leading to Indore in Madhya Pradesh from where suitcases in which bombs were placed are reported to have been bought. The newspaper in which one of the recovered bombs was wrapped is said to bear markings of Aligarh edition of a Hindi daily. The prime suspect Azmat a resident of Lahore was reportedly apprehended from Ambala Cantonment. Azmat had stayed in Kanpur and villages around Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The individual had also spent time in Goa. These movements denoted extensive linkages of the terrorists behind the blast with local support networks in each of these areas without which such extended stay by a foreign national in the hinterland would not have been possible.
Maritime Terrorism Emerges As A Key Challenge
Marine assets are expected to be the next target for attacks by terrorists. This has been evident over the past six months as targets on the coast and off shore assets are a key vulnerability given effective security measures taken against terrorism in the air. While Proliferation Security Initiative and Container Security Initiative have been launched by the USA to prevent induction of hazardous material including nuclear through the marine route, India is not a part of these initiatives as it entails issues of sovereignty. The US Navy has also proposed a concept of Thousand Ship Navy (TSN) which is slated to be a coordinating mechanism for navies around the globe which would act in concert to protect sea lanes and ensure freedom of the seas.
The capability to launch maritime attacks is limited to the Al Qaeda and the LTTE. The Sea Tiger wing of the LTTE is said to have extensive capabilities which has been proved from time to time. The threat to the Indian coastline is therefore only in the medium term as no indications of capability building by indigenous terrorist organisations in this sphere are evident. However a freak attack such as a suicide strike by a fast attack boat laden with explosives on Bombay High could create a grave situation with a combination of economic and environmental hazards which India is incapable of managing at present.
The task of maintaining surveillance of the coastline of over 5400 kms with over 1100 islands is daunting. The main challenge at present is of gun and explosive running. India seems to be quite inadequately prepared for the same. The Coastal Security Scheme launched by the Central government is still in its nascency and is likely to be fully implemented only in another five years at best. This involves establishment of maritime police stations for patrolling of coastal waters. In addition the Coast Guard has been considerably enlarged to take on additional responsibilities.
Controlling Terror Finance
Terrorism is largely funded by money laundering and other means of financial fraud. An agreement signed between the Egmont Group and Finance Intelligence Unit of the Government of India is slated to improve monitoring spurious financial transactions including money laundering by terrorist groups. Egmont is a multinational grouping of states based in Brussels which enables sharing data of financial fraud between member countries. Finance Intelligence Units have been set up in India under the Money Laundering Act to monitor and analyse financial crime. The process of prosecution is lengthy hence such agencies act merely as deterrent. However the arrangement with Egmont will provide access to a vast network of data to Indian financial intelligence units thereby enhancing checks on financing of terrorist groups.
Nandigram - The Protest Boils Over
The West Bengal police was accused of using force to break the two month long siege by farmers of Nandigram in concert with CPI (M) cadres in the state. Reports in the media indicate that 14 people were killed and 60 injured in firing by the police contingent which was over 2000 strong. This was said to be a part of the strategy of the CPI (M) to gain lost ground in Nandigram 140 kms from the state capital, Kolkata where a chemical hub has been planned. ( Hindustan Times 15 March 2007). The police claimed that they retaliated in self defence as the villagers first opened fire. The state intelligence is reported to have failed to gather information of likely resistance as the farmers had collected arms and ammunition and were well prepared to defend against a police strike. This assessment was apparently not made by the police as well as the CPI (M) cadres as per Arindam Sarkar (Hindustan Times, 15 March 2007). Killing of farmers in police firing finally led the West Bengal government to cancel plans for a Special Export Zone (SEZ) in Nandigram and the entire policy of SEZ coming under thorough scrutiny. In related developments the Kalinganagar project in Orissa has also been cancelled due to resistance by the farmers. The SEZ policy is likely to be reviewed by the Central government. In a country as India where over 70 percent people subsist on agriculture, industrialisation has to ensure that tillers are not denied their key asset, land. Thus SEZs need to be created only in those areas which have fallow and waste land or farmers should be incorporated on ownership basis in these projects with assured incomes and reskilling.
(SAST April 2007)
Terrorism and Communalism within India - Some Clarity in Policy
Terrorism Policy of the Government
During the month the Prime Minister at a national seminar on "Law, Terrorism and Development," organized jointly by the Indian Council of Jurists, the All-India Bar Association, and the India Legal Information Institute highlighted the impact of terrorism as, "It subverts the economic and financial environment for growth and deprives ordinary people of their basic needs and even livelihood." And "necessitates enhanced military and security expenditure." The Prime Minister very rightly rejected the call made by the Intelligence Bureau Chief, Mr. S L Narasimhan for stronger laws against terrorism by stating that the police must use, "relevant provisions" in a "professional and scientific manner" without linking these to any religion. . Mr. Narasimhan had called for legal provisions to prevent officers and men who, "We need to find answers to these issues as national counter-terrorism strategy suffers immensely when officers and men who put at stake everything in protecting society, find themselves helpless facing legal and extra-legal campaigns when the threats have receded,"
Terrorist groups were said to operate with "large financial and material resources at their disposal, terrorist groups are able to use modern communication system and state-of-the-art technology to pursue their agenda." And link with "organized crimes like drug trafficking, gun-running and money laundering" to a point where "Terrorism has also emerged as one of the most serious threats to international peace. The terrorists themselves were classified by the prime minister as those who are the fringe elements and can be isolated by a clear and purposive response. Willingness of the government to "talk to any disaffected group prepared to abjure violence, it stands firmly committed to enforcing zero tolerance to terrorism within the framework of existing laws", was also highlighted.
This was followed up by the Prime Ministers speech at the conference of the DGPs - IGPs Conference on 23 November 2006 which can indicate virtually the Indian Government`s policy on terrorism and insurgency in the country as indicated by the following excerpts:-
Jammu and Kashmir.
The positive developments witnessed in J&K have generated the hope that political solutions can be found to address public grievances. To allow the political process to take the desired direction in Jammu & Kashmir, it is imperative that the level of violence is brought down significantly. This requires strong will and determination to sustain the anti-militancy effort but with greater sensitivity. I am confident that our police forces are well equipped to deal with these challenges.
In the North East, the option of conflict resolution through dialogue has been pursued with all groups that have shown willingness to abjure violence. While we are committed to the process of peaceful dialogue to resolve all outstanding problems, the Government will not countenance the deliberate use of violence against innocent citizens. The people have rejected violence and opted for a democratic path to ensure peace, stability and development. The people in the north-eastern States and elsewhere expect the security forces and the Police to protect their lives and property and to this they are legitimately entitled to.
Naxalite groups continue their attempts to spread their influence in the countryside and threaten the internal security environment. I am pained when I see the extent of suffering inflicted on ordinary people by the Naxals who claim their movement is for the benefit of the same common people. What justification can there be for brutal and inhuman killings of innocent tribal of Chattisgarh, or the blowing-up of a truck carrying tribal witnessed earlier this year? What can justify causing damage to roads and railway tracks, inflicting untold hardships on the common people?
There is therefore a need for faster development of Naxalite-affected areas, and for a responsive, transparent and sensitive administrative machinery. We need a greater focus on employment generation, on land reforms, on redistribution of land, better education and health facilities, backed up by firm police action wherever needed.
Preserving Values. While security is important, our fight is not about security alone. The fight today is about preserving our values and our traditions. I have said on many occasions earlier that the police in modern India must become a partner in development. It is an essential component of our institutional framework to ensure economic prosperity of our people. At the same time security devoid of justice has no meaning. The Rule of Law and transparency are the bedrock of our democracy. It is your responsibility to ensure that our people have the assurance of an environment of security with justice. (With direct quotes from the PM`s web site)
Possible Terror Targets.
The Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil indicated in a conference of all the Director General Police in the country that the atomic plants had become targets for terrorists in addition to shipyards, refineries and multi purpose projects. The Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and the Goa Shipyard has been indicated as some of the possible targets. The coast line is said to be highly vulnerable. The focus of the Lashkar e Toiba is said to have shifted to economic targets on the coast line. It is also envisaged that terrorists will occupy vacant islands and employ these as bases for launching operations on the coast line. To that extent there is a need to ensure that such islands are regularly patrolled by the coast guard. Rs