An eye-opener on the state of Indian security

Book: India’s Internal Security: The Actual Concerns
Author: Dr. N.C. Asthana (I.P.S.) & Dr. Anjali Nirmal
Publisher: Pointer Publishers, Jaipur
Year: 2012
Price: Rs. 1200
Pages: 326+xvii
ISBN: 978-81-7132-28-7
Dr AG Khan

Human Rights Watch in In the Name of Security (2012) probes counter terrorism laws worldwide since September 11 and cites that violation of human rights is among the conditions “conducive to the spread of terrorism.”1

Here is a book by a scientist turned police man who bursts several myths about terrorism and the media coverage of the innocent but alleged terrorists. A nuclear physicist by training Dr. Asthana is an Additional Director General of Police. His wife Dr. Anjali Nirmal holds a Ph.D in police administration. Together they have produced 24 outstanding reference works and numerous research papers in various reputed international journals. Their previous works have been on the science of intelligence, terrorism, anti-terrorist operations, international security and several allied issues. Theirs is the final word with the authority of being the ultimate resource person(s) on the subject. Hence, what they say cannot be dismissed casually. They join the ranks of conscientious police men like Vibhuti Narain Rai, Hemant Karkare, Sanjiv Bhatt and S.M. Mushrif who dared to call a spade a spade:

Presently, we are chasing mirages; barking up the wrong tree;…. imaginary threats are being pursued and billions spent on them whereas some real threats remain undressed. We spend billions on these ‘diseases’ in our system which would eventually heal themselves, …. but ignore those which are lying dormant and, like syphilis or HIV, could erupt any time. This book brings the truth to light. (XII)

Divided into 13 chapters the book covers almost every issue that deserves immediate solution. The topics covered are: various dimensions of internal security; Kashmir and its real implications; Islamic Terrorism (Ignorance and Paranoia); India: The making of a Terrorist; unfair, unjust and unethical trial by media; Malicious intent of the police as proved by very very low conviction role; Anti-Naxal operations; Things on Simmer (Naga Problem); Analysis of legal Issues in Anti-Terrorist operations; The so-called Hindutva Terrorism; Flawed Responses and the Farces of Intelligence; worst case scenarios; what Really Ails us.

Needless to say every threat perception to national security has been analysed with the objectivity of a scientist. It will be worth while to green over of some of the issues which are likely to erupt if not addressed in time.

The first chapter enlists the fundamental issues that lie at the core of internal security: socio-political stability; territorial integrity; economic solidarity and strength, environmental security; and cultural cohesiveness. Expounding the role of self styled experts he cites Pravaeen Swami’s hysteria about SIMI. He points out that militancy, extremism, and insurgencies are generally confused with terrorism. He also discusses the knee-jerk reaction to sedition

The second chapter examines the Kashmir issue beginning with statistics from 1990-2001 which records 46540 “encounter” incidents resulting in the killing of 9718 civilians, 3056 SFS, 14356 terrorists and 2358 foreign militants; this he compares with the unofficial figures compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portals. On pages 30 to 34 are recorded SATP figures. If Kashmir remains with India the credit goes to sacrifices of security forces. They admit fake encounters such as Machil case and the Pathribal case and many more which cannot be exactly ascertained. He also admits “there was little restraint on the part of security forces and practically no accountability” (p 35). In short, there was no semblance of administration, or “rule of law” (p. 35). ISI blunders saved Kashmir for India (p 36) or else everything was almost lost. He further warns about the inferences we draw from the successful holding of elections or ‘two quiet summers” (p.40). There is undeniable proof of anti-India sentiment (p. 41) which exploded in the summer of 2010. He emphatically declares:

Terrorism or secessionism in Kashmir is not driven by Islamic fundamentalism or a desire to protect Islam against the onslaught of the west or the majority Hinduism in India - this could be the case for the Taliban …. the predominant sentiment is political - anti India to be precise…. Communalism is a historical social reality in India but it acquires distinct political overtones in Kashmir” (p. 57)

In the third chapter they ask: Is Islam compulsively driven towards terrorism? They cite Outlook poll in December 2008 which believes so and warns, that this is a dangerous perception - a myth that is, as rooted in ignorance as in prejudice. (p. 65). They cite Michael Scheuer who blames U.S. foreign policy for fueling Islamic terror (p. 71). Dismissing the absurd lure of the Houris in Paradise they remind that paradise is described in the most alluring terms in all religions. Why single out Muslims? Have not the Hindus exalted the pleasure in their ‘swarg’. They clarify that western scholars, their collaborators in India and the media pepole do not know that according to Islam, the houris in paradise are available for all Muslims, not just martyrs (p. 72).

Elaborating on the misconception about Jihad they, in a lengthy but highly argumentive paragraph, regard it the intellectual bankruptcy of the west and their sycophants. It is neither a case of clash of civilizations or clash of religions. The United States Department of Justice has used arbitrary definition of Jihad without any understanding of the underlying theological concepts (p. 73). “It does not mean that all the Muslims are hell bent upon waging war upon the entire world and would not stop till they have converted the entire world to Darul-Islam (realm of Islam) (p. 75). If anyone believes so his understanding of the whole phenomenon of terrorism is flawed (p. 75). They emphatically conclude:

We have Muslim terrorists but they are not driven by a desire to conquer the world; …. they have become terrorist because of some more mundane problems and issues - some of them are real; some are perceived. (p. 75-76)

Since U.S.A. wanted to label someone with the tag it created the myth of Wahabism and Salafism. They raise the issue, of whether the jobless Mujahideen became terrorist after the Afghan war. They cite Robin Cook that after all Bin Laden was a product of monumental miscalculation by western security agencies (p. 81) but the experiment went horribly wrong (p. 83). They point out that the popular notion of Saddam Hussein’s defeat was a “crucial milestone in the campaign against terror” was too naïve. …. “the very unjustness of Iraq war has provided an emotive reason for terrorism to exist.” (p. 90)

Coming to the Indian scenario, the couple declare that persecution complex matters. (p. 97) So does communal hatred (p. 99).

Chapter four studies “The Making of a terrorist” in the Indian context “when it comes to a terrorist strike the entire nation seems to come under the spell of a bloodlust of sorts …. In the name of combating terrorism, the police and the intelligence agencies have been committing untold atrocities upon people in general and the Muslims in particular. The repercussions are felt in the form of widespread feeling of lack of faith in the Indian system” ….. (p. 107). They assert that media has been propagating all sorts of factually wrong notions (p. 108). They cite Syed Shahabuddin: investigators target the entire community …. they can get away with making false allegations. (p. 111). They emphatically warn: Reports of torture may also serve as a recruitment tool among some Muslims in India and abroad to join extremist group (p. 117). 4.3.2. discusses Torture Galore: Abandon All Hope Ye who Enter Here (p. 118).

Citing Vidya Subramaniam of The Hindu over closure report in Gulbarg Society case …. “the R.K. Raghavan-led special Investigation Team says Ms. Jafri’s husband …. was killed because he provoked a “violent mob”. (p. 128). This is to say: if you defend yourself, you provoke your murderer” (p. 128) a fact witnessed recently in the gang rape murder on 16 December by Raghavan’s logic Damini should have not only surrendered but also should have enjoyed the rape as a Chinese proberb tells us, Chapter five dissects with objectivity and sincerity the role that the media plays by resorting to “unfair, unjust and unethical” trial. “The charge of the Muslim bashing brigade” is led by a journalist called Praveen Swami” - a fake terrorism expert and “a steno of the I.B.” who has been allegedly passing off I.B. manufactured stuff as serious news. He is called a “terror salesman” (p. 136). The couple cite Bhatkal brothers and Indian Mjuahideen fiasco in addition to the 5 crore defamation case against Swami and The Hindu editor N. Ram The couple takes cognisance of Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association’s expose of the media bias in Batla House encounter case (p. 148-49). The Batla House encounter as studied by the DUJ team too has been taken cognisance of and questions about the slain inspector Mohan Chand Sharma’s death in the encounter has been discussed at length by raising several questions. Interestingly the couple has thoroughly studied Z.I. Khan’s 1-15 July 2011 article on Praveen Swami.

In Chapter X we find an analysis of “so-called Hindutva terrorism”. The analysis begins with Praveen Swami’s reports on the Ajmer Dargah blast dated 12 October 2007. He placed the blame on Islamist neo-conservatives. Obviously, both the stories cannot be true simultaneously (p. 271).

This chapter probes Abhinav Bharat Project. However it considers the notion of Hindu terror as stupid as that of Islamist terror. While admitting that Hindus and Muslims are involved in a lot of pouring out mutual hatred on facebook, “to imagine a grand terrorist design in a perverted dream shared by millions since long is absurd. And who said that Hindu criminals, would, should or could never use bombs…. do the reporters think that only Muslim criminals or “terrorists” had a copyright to using bombs?”