India: A threat to itself and to neighbors


A macabre terrorist incident like the one descending upon German Bakery, involving the death of nine innocent people on February 13, deserves to be abhorred and condemned; yet this despicable tragedy may bear the proverbial silver lining in context of the Indo-Pak interaction. The crudely assembled device not only smashed a bakery much frequented by foreigners, but also demolished quite a few myths and sound bytes that have dominated the Indian media and the official rhetoric. It could even have seriously jolted the perception of terrorism that most of Indians have come to perceive as bearing a “crossborder” lineage and may serve to open their eyes to a threat that is entirely made in India and help in correcting a state of denial that is spreading its vicious tentacles into the body politic of Indo-Pak relations.

Pune blast, just preceding the efforts to resuscitate a comatose peace process, and grudgingly acknowledged as India’s own by a section of intelligentsia, provides revealing insights into the rise of indigenous terror in India and the country’s persistent application of terror politics to achieve political ends at the cost of Pakistan.

In studying the rise of indigenous terror in India nothing can be more revealing than the state of Mahrashtra, where Pune is located; an area which has become a crucible of anti-Muslim hatred and where the resultant desperate Muslim backlash, trying to get even with the system, is most apparent. No wonder the state, particularly its jewel in the crown (Mumbai), has become the lodestone for terrorists. Being the fiefdom of Bal Tha-ckary, the rabid maverick who has acquired a larger than life stature for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and leadership of Shiv Sena’s Muslim intimidating hooligan gangs, Maharashtra, particularly its Marathwada Region provides ideal grounds to nurture made-in-India terrorists.

The pattern set by six terrorist bombings, that have rocked Maharashtra since 2003, amply reflects the pattern followed by the Hindu terrorists; target Muslim community and then brazenly pass on the blame to “cross border terrorism” involving non-state actors like LeT as well as Pakistan’s ISI. A peculiar and recurring aspect of these strikes is their timings and the place of attack; mostly occurring on Fridays between 1.45 and 2 pm at the towns’ most prominent mosques when the attendance is maximum. The Prabhani blast occurred at Mohammadiya Masjid on Friday, November 21, 2003; Purna blast occurred on Friday, August 27, 2004 targeting Meraj-ul-Uloom Madrassa and Masjid Siddharth Nagar; the Jalna blast also occurred on August 27, 2004 at Quadriya Masjid; the Nanded Bomb that killed its Hindu mastermind was intended to detonate on Friday, April 7 at the mosque near the Railway station at Aurangabad and the Malegaon I blast too occurred on a Friday (September 8, 2006). In all these cases, the leads provided by the forensic, as well as the circumstantial evidence, poignantly pointed to the Hindu hand but were ignored by CBI. Indian intelligence and police combine alleging that Muslim extremist modules, sponsored by Pakistan, were behind such blasts simply does not make sense unless one accepts that Muslim ‘terrorists’ involved were so senseless as to target devout Muslims offering Juma prayers to raise communal frenzy so that they could invite a Hindu communal backlash.

To every action there is bound to be a reaction and the nearly 15 percent segment of Indian population i.e. Muslims, humiliated and left at the bottom of social heap, has responded in kind to seek retribution. Despite widely held perception of the secular ethos of the Indian democracy, Muslims are mired in mass poverty, lack of education and is mostly excluded from the pale of a Shining India; becoming victim of a rising wave of Hindutva driven extremism.

Pune blast has served to underscore the persistent Indian trend of blaming Pakistan for all and sundry acts of ‘made in India’ terrorism on its soil and using the occurrences as propaganda ploys to regulate the ebb and flow of political and diplomatic interaction with Pakistan. Coming at a time, when India is under pressure from the global community to pick up the threads of negotiations, it is not hard to discern as to who assembled the device and what the bombers’ motives were. Already the leads are pointing to internal dynamics; Hindu Right wing organisations as well as Muslim activists. The hard reality, underscored by Pune blast is that terrorism made, sustained and nurtured in India is acquiring a momentum of its own. The question remains that how long will it take India to acknowledge its presence and objectively formulate an effective response instead of holding Pakistan to ransom for each and every incident of terrorism on its soil. If this reality makes a mark in India, the life of the victims of the Pune blasts would not be, after all, such a tragic waste. MOMIN IFTIKHAR. The writer is a freelance columnist.

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