New and bolder cross-border terror

The two horrific incidents of Islamic terrorists slitting the throat of a Hindu target in Amravati in Maharashtra and the beheading of another in Udaipur in Rajasthan a week later in public view after making an open threat in the two cases for support expressed by victims on social media for now suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her remarks about the Prophet Muhammad during a TV debate, indicate a new level of threat to the India’s internal security from radicals manipulated by a hostile Pakistan.

In both cases, the terrorist act was preceded by meticulous planning denying the idea that these events of raw violence could be attributed to a “sudden and severe provocation” directly related to what the BJP party official had said.

Many in the legal profession disagreed with the judicial observations made by the Supreme Court while rejecting the request of the “accused” former BJP spokeswoman to consolidate the numerous cases filed against her on the same count.

Essentially, the court held Sharma directly responsible for the beheading in Udaipur of an unfortunate Hindu tailor. Can it be said that what the BJP rep said as a ‘spoken’ word – for which a set of laws are already enforced – was good enough for a group of people to plan the physical violence of a gruesome murder of two Hindus for simply accepting his remarks?

The socio-political environment – as bad as it is – cannot legitimize recourse to a medieval form of public violence. The state of democratic India must punish these “terrorists” on a deterrent note in the name of its internal security and do everything possible to uncover the larger conspiracy behind these events involving India’s adversaries, for a full response. as effective.

In India, all religions are on the same footing when it comes to respecting the sensitivities of their followers and no community can claim to be on a different pedestal from the others in this respect.

It is now becoming clear in the investigation of these cases by the NIA that the acts of terrorism could be the work of Pakistani operatives who were guided through the planning, resource mobilization and modus operandi to carry them out.

These events should be seen as the culmination of three alarming aspects of cross-border terrorism that have become particularly salient since Prime Minister Narendra Modi – known for his tough stance on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India – returned to power. for a second term. in 2019.

One is the extensive exploitation of radical Islamic groups by Pak ISI in the proxy war against India in Kashmir and elsewhere – more so after the repeal of Section 370 of the Constitution. He was aided by the relocation of the Taliban emirate to Kabul in August 2021, which had occurred with the full support of Pakistan.

Second, the rise of the anti-Modi lobby comprising elements of the opposition, civil society forums and anti-Indian forces abroad, with its tales of majoritarianism, authoritarianism and anti-minority vision of regime, encouraged Pakistan to openly denounce India for promoting Hindutva to the detriment of Muslim rights and freedom.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan clearly made this allegation when announcing Pakistan’s national security policy. His successor, Shehbaz Sharif, followed up with increased propaganda about the suppression of human rights in Kashmir – this was done in a bid to bring Pakistan closer to the United States again.

There is an acceleration in Pakistan’s attempts to spread radicalization and breed potential agents in India through the clandestine use of social media to create terrorist modules profiting from the Hindu-Muslim conflicts here.

It may be recalled that following the ban imposed on the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) — a militant community front of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind — in 2006, the Indian Mujahideen (IM) emerged as the SIMI jihadist front which was responsible for several acts of terror thereafter.

IM had strong international ties and showed how Islamic terrorism could be eliminated from community activism. It is a matter of great satisfaction that India’s intelligence setup is fully geared up to detect any potential militant linked to Pakistan or any other foreign entity.

The third worrying development is the escalation of minority politics by a small opposition and its allies in a bid to garner electoral numbers – they campaigned for India under Modi to cease being a secular state.

This was done in complete disregard of the fact that the built-in secularism of the Constitution guaranteed that the democratic principles of one man, one vote, the development of all, and the equal protection of the law to be provided by state governments, could not be diluted.

The domestic environment is marked by an increased propensity for communal violence and the spread of radicalization. The case of the alleged insult of the Prophet Muhammad by a BJP official is used by Pakistan to highlight the paramount identity of Indian Muslims as part of the Ummah and bring the OIC into the picture to buttress this – an unusual request was made that India as a nation should apologize for what was at best an indiscreet expression of opinions by a party person about the Prophet in a debate where a Muslim participant was insulting freely the Hindu gods.

The leadership of the minority community here remained silent on the “internationalization” of a national event – ​​they had every right to speak to the government about it and protest against it. The sovereign democratic republic of India cannot be questioned by any country on any matter of internal governance.

There are forces – home-based and those operating across borders – that seize every opportunity to destabilize this country, especially on cross-community issues. The narrative of majoritarianism and the lack of protection for minorities is now turned into calls for violence and many minority community leaders even support radicalization and foreign-inspired terror.

It was clear from the beginning that after the success of the anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan, Pak ISI planned to replicate the Afghan Jehad in Kashmir and attempted to send the first Taliban mujahideen to the valley under the guise of Harkatul Ansar in 1993.

It is not surprising that Taliban elements have appeared in the POK after the recent return from the emirate of Kabul. Militancy in Kashmir is becoming an instrument for spreading radicalization to the rest of the country and increasing the recruitment of terrorists for planned actions wherever possible.

The Amravati and Udaipur incidents need to be seen in this larger context and the strategy for dealing with this threat needs to be reframed for urgent action.

The time has come for zero tolerance against any violence that adds to terrorist activity. The wandering community violence and isolated cases of clashes between individuals are on another footing. It is good that the NIA addresses all aspects of the Amravati and Udaipur affairs, including the conspiracy as well as the role of local administrators and police officers.

If political elements are directly involved, no leeway should be left to them. The Center must demonstrate its political will to legally pursue the case to its logical conclusion in order to create deterrence against this type of dictated violence.

It is worth mentioning that the average members of any minority community in India have the same livelihood and security concerns that ordinary people of the majority community would face here – they all desire to live in peace.

A democratic India must sternly repress politically motivated violence and especially counter radicalization instigated by the adversary. The analysis of social media must be broadened because they have become an instrument of combat and subversion. People should be aware that social media is like a public platform that should only be used for legitimate communication and is subject to do’s and don’ts governed by IT law. information. In general, don’t use social media for anything you wouldn’t do or say in a public forum. The right to privacy cannot be taken for granted when using social media. Indian citizens must also be educated on national security in a broad sense and their contribution to it in the interest of national unity and integrity, as required by the preamble of our Constitution. The country must unite against terrorism, regardless of internal differences on political or religious issues.

(The author is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Opinions expressed are personal)

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