Bangalore blasts: outrage with a difference

Posted on July 25, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics, terrorism |

In general there has always been the shadow of suspicion on the government of a country in allowing “public outrages” to happen at a convenient time, when it is politically difficult for it to pass a law or an act which it wants to pass – but that the outrage will help swing public opinion in favour of the law or act. There seemed to be a pattern during the British Raj, when “outrages” by terrorist “freedom-fighters” always happened when the India Govt. needed or wanted to pass a particularly repressive or exploitative measure but faced opposition from the Home Office or the British Parliament. Typically, all those supposedly involved were caught quite quickly, and in the court, all their preparatory meeting details, and detailed day to day activity were placed as evidence. This pattern continued even during the later days of open, mass Congress politics, and there exists a White Paper published by the British Govt. of India which details speeches given in a closed AIWC session, about how Gandhiji himself was not so “pacifist” after all. The British police knew exactly what went on within the higher committees of the groups and parties publicly opposed to it, and they made short shrift of those groups it considered particularly obnoxious – whereas people who suddenly “switched” to a moderate, cooperative attitude to the British government after “realization” in jail, appear to have survived and risen to prominence in the latter phases of the Congress led movement. We can isolate these leaders as those who took great pains to distinguish between the British as a nation, and the particular British government they were fighting against. These were leaders who emphasized that they wanted India to remain a “close friend” of Britain, and in fact were in favour of the administrative system imposed by the British, but simply wanted control of the system. This is why most of the administrative people, or army officers who had been extremely loyal to the British authorities, and helped suppress or defeat Independence movements survived and flourished under the post Independence government.

To a certain extent, this policy probably continues even now in the West. There are trails in sometimes released old internal documents, (such as a particular heavily inked out doc released by the US government which indicates that someone close to Indira Gandhi was passing on daily briefs to the US secret services during the 1971 Indo-Pak war). A typical strategy would be to infiltrate into groups, (with agents who have either been blackmailed or enticed) and in fact encourage outrages or help organize them. This is the reason, these cases are so quickly solved, with the group caught quite easily – the secret services had in fact probably helped plan the whole “outrage”.

Could a similar thing be happening in the states of India? No. For one thing, India is a much larger country with a much larger population and diversity than the US or the UK. The hold of the centre into the minutest corner of the provinces are not so strong as in the US or UK. Organizing explosions of the scale carried out in Mumbai, Rajasthan, Bangalore, Hyderabad, require support by a secret service funded by the resources of a national government, or a force which has similar resources at its disposal. Thus Al-Qaeda controlling substantial portions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, or Pakistan itself, could be likely candidates in supporting these acts.

I had already predicted that outrages in Indian cities will increase after the trust vote as the forces which have their own ambitions of controlling India will panic. The targets will be common people, and crowds, and commercially and economically important centres – especially those which could be attractive for or in consideration for foreign investments or interests. We can also more or less be certain that explosions will take place where there is a captive Muslim population that can be emotionally blackmailed into collaborating, facilitating or providing cover. States which have consciously provided a strong safe haven for various Muslim religious “revivalist” groups will be exceptions. In these states only religious centres of non-Muslims can be targets. (Thus I think Calcutta/Kolkata will be an unlikely target, the seat of a state government that forced out Tasleema Nasreen before pressure from a violent Muslim agitation – it would be comparable to Kalidasa’s famous story of cutting the branch that supports).

Pakistan’s involvement could be without the knowledge of the elected government, and it is quite likely that sections of the Pakistan army, as well as its secret service the ISI, are ideologically committed to the establishment of a pan-Islamic hegemony over the subcontinent. Such a hegemony will apparently be attractive to China also, as from the time of Mao’s wooing of Muslim tribals during his struggling Long March days, as well as from his own writings (where he finds similarities between communism and Islam) the Chinese have always favoured Islam over non-Islamic cultures in South Asia. Islamic hegemony will also ensure almost certain erasure of Buddhist influence and support in the Indian subcontinent for Dalai Lama. In an earlier post I had considered the possibility that China may itself face the consequences of Islamic jihad in its own backyard, the north-western badlands of Yunan. For Islamic ideologues, the Chinese Communists represent the most “ungodly” of unbelievers – and their counterparts in Pakistan have simply used the classic Islamic strategy first effectively used by the Prophet of Islam himself, of making selective alliances with “unbeliever” groups against other “unbeliever” groups. Chinese communists can ponder the fate of Najibullah, hanged by the feet and beaten to death publicly – an incident over which the West gloated and probably celebrated over bottles of champagne.

Sooner or later Pakistan’s fundamentalist officer ranks and the ISI has to be neutralized to ensure some degree of control over the extremists. Pakistani Punjab is the corridor from India to the NWFP rogue areas bordering Afghanistan which are completely under the control of the Taliban. Neutralizing Multan will also disrupt the flow of resources to support Islamic militants trying to move into the Kashmir valley. Unless the Pakistani Punjab/Multan connection and link is “broken”, India will never be safe from its major saboteur on its western frontier.

There are most likely well developed connections between almost all of the extremist groups, be they “Communist”, separatist, or religious. These groups probably also collaborate and help each other. The state has to look seriously into the socio-economic factors that have allowed “Communists” and other extremists to mobilize and gain support. The communist and separatist guerrilla strategies are essentially based on thousands of years old tactics renewed and redefined in the twentieth century (Tsun Zu, Mao, Che) – a fluid, mobile, continuous low intensity warfare, intended more to slowly bleed the “enemy” to death rather than risk being crushed by the much more resourceful “enemy” in combat forms chosen by the “enemy”.

One way of dealing with the extremist problem is to prepare militarily to encircle extremist strongholds and gradually tighten the noose, but give a short period of time before starting operations after encirclement, in which extremist leaders should be offered an ultimatum to join the representative electoral process and allow developmental work to proceed or be liquidated completely. In all such cases we have to remember that there are genuine socio-economic factors such as intense and ruthless exploitation of sections of the Indian population living in these areas.

Such internal measures and a strategic plan to deal with the Multani corridor are needed to tackle escalating “outrages”.

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