Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Morale of the Human Element in Counter-Terrorism

On thurs day when the people were busy to pay homage to the persons in uniform who laid their life to save the Mumbaikars and innocent people killed by terrorist on 26/11, we in the newsroom of Sanmarg were ingaged in discussing the state of affaire of couter terrorism and morale our intelligence community. discussants were Sita Ram Agarwal, avery-very serious journo having deep nose in crime, Dr. H N singh” Abhigyat”, an eloquent story writer, Rajesh Tripathi, a magnificent blogger in current affairs and human traits and Ashika Singh, a hard core professional having very vide contacts with senior police officials around the country including myself. Ashika narreted an incident when IB served served fake and counter productive infgormation to state police about a terrorist activity. the persons named in that information in prison at that time. Sita Ram ji informed that the officer transfered to R&WB and other agencies feel victimis
The citizens of this country have valid reasons to be concerned over indications of poor morale and a deteriorating esprit de corps in the Mumbai Police and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), our external intelligence agency.

One may have the best of technical capabilities and unlimited resources, but if the human element responsible for using them effectively is disgruntled and pulling in different directions, our counter-terrorism machinery runs the danger of failing once again as shockingly as it did on 26/11 of last year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P.Chidambaram, National Security Adviser M.K.Narayanan and Congress (I) leader Sonia Gandhi show no signs of being the least concerned over the poor state of morale in the Mumbai Police and the R&AW.

One does not need to have access to inside information to realise that the staff morale is far from satisfactory in two segments of our counter-terrorism machinery that will have to play an important role in preventing another 26/11.We have had three acts of mass casualty terrorism committed in Mumbai by Pakistan-based terrorists.

To prevent another----either in Mumbai or elsewhere--- we need a revamped and rejuvenated police machinery in Mumbai which will act as a team in detecting and neutralising any new conspiracy. The role of the R&AW, which has the task of monitoring the plans and activities of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its terrorist creations, will be equally important. If the officers of the Mumbai Police and the R&AW are in a dispirited state of mind, the terrorists from Pakistan and their ISI creators will find the road open for a repeat of 26/11.

One has to only read carefully the reports appearing with disturbing frequency in the media to realise that the morale of the human element is in a poor shape. When morale and esprit de corps are poor, the human elements in the counter-terrorism machinery spend their time more in countering each other through the medium of an obliging media than in countering the terrorists.

The stories that some senior officers of the Mumbai Police are disseminating about each other and the serious allegations that they are making against each other do not speak of a happy, contented and energetic officer cadre on the go against the terrorists. They speak of the worrisome state of inter-personal relations among sections of the senior officers.

If inter-personal tensions are the cause of the poor morale in the Mumbai police, inter-service tensions are the cause of the malaise in the R&AW. When Indira Gandhi created the R&AW in September 1968, she had desired that it should not be a carbon copy of the Intelligence Bureau dominated by police officers. It was her wish that the new organisation should recruit its officers from a much wider reservoir in the open market.

After a little more than 30 years, those who entered the officer cadre of the organisation from the open market have reached senior levels and rightly aspire to become the head of the organisation. It is a legitimate aspiration. Some of the reported decisions regarding promotions at senior levels have rightly or wrongly created an impression that an attempt is being made to deny them a chance to occupy the chair of the head of the organisation.

The Special Task Force For the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus headed by G.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW, had in 2000 recommended that we should study and adopt the good practices of the concept of the intelligence community as it has evolved over the years in the US. This concept looks upon all the intelligence agencies as constituting a single community and all decisions--- whether in respect of human or material resources---- are required to be taken in the over-all interest of the community and the nation as a whole instead of in the interest of any individual agency of the community.

This recommendation was accepted by the Government, but there appears to have been foot-dragging in its implementation. Had the intelligence community concept been followed in decision-making, the kind of inter-service tensions that one finds in the R&AW now might not have been there.

The Prime Minister has an important role in the maintenance of morale and efficiency in the intelligence community similar to the role played by the US President. He should personally look into the reasons for the poor morale not only in the R&AW, but also in the Mumbai Police and address them in order to promote team work in our counter-terrorism machinery.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

26/11: Questions That Need to be Posed & Answered

The 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai left many important questions unanswered, if not unposed.

What kind of intelligence was available----from the Indian as well as foreign agencies?

How and by whom were the reports analysed, assessed and disseminated?

Were the gaps in the available intelligence identified and was action taken to fill those gaps?

What follow-up action was taken on the available intelligence----however inadequate it might have been?

What action was taken to strengthen physical security----- hotel and coastal security---- in Mumbai keeping in view the fact that the available intelligence---even if general and not specific--- spoke of likely sea-borne attacks on hotels, the Taj Mahal Hotel being one of them?

Who co-ordinated the physical security measures in the Governments of India and Maharashtra?

Some media reports immediately after the attack had quoted a senior executive in the Taj Mahal Hotel as saying that security was strengthened in the hotel for some days before the attack, but was subsequently down-graded. Who took the decision to down-grade physical security? On what basis?

Who co-ordinated the investigation after the terrorist attacks? What was the role of the Government of India in the co-ordination?

Were the foreigners, who escaped from the custody of the terrorists, debriefed thoroughly after they were rescued before they were allowed to go back to their countries? Who debriefed them? Were the debriefings recorded in writing? Where are those notes kept?

If they were not debriefed, why? Was their being allowed to leave India without being debriefed due to negligence or was it the result of a conscious decision? If so, who took that decision?

Was a detailed reconstruction of the terrorist attacks made? Who made that reconstruction? What were the conclusions of that reconstruction?

On what basis did the police come to the conclusion that apart from the 10 Pakistani terrorists who came by sea from Pakistan, no other Pakistani accomplice was involved on the ground in Mumbai?

On what basis did the police come to the conclusion that apart from the two Indian Muslims arrested and prosecuted, there was no involvement of any other Indian Muslim?

On what basis did the police come to the conclusion that there was no evidence of any pre-9/11 reccee of the places attacked by the LET or its accomplices?

Did the police seize the guest registers of the hotels attacked, make out a list of persons of Pakistani origin who had stayed there in the months preceding the attacks and verify their background? If so, did the name of David Colemn Headley, who had reportedly stayed twice in the Taj Mahal Hotel, figure in that list? The fact that the Mumbai Police became aware of Headley's stay in the hotel only after they were tipped off by the FBI recently show that the registers were either not scrutinised or were scrutinised superficially.

Did the police seize the immigration records of the Mumbai airport to check the particulars of persons of Pakistani origin who had arrived in the days preceding the attacks and left in the hours following the attacks?

Were the investigators able to get any evidence beyond the confession of Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive?

26/11 in Mumbai was the most well-planned, well-organised and well-executed terrorist attack since 9/11 in the US. The National Commission appointed in the US made a detailed enquiry into the sins of commission and omission, which made 9/11 possible. Its report was debated in the US Congress and made available to the public. The relatives of US citizens killed by the 9/11 terrorist strikes mobilised themselves to ensure that there would be no cover-up, that the truth would be brought out and that follow-up action would be taken to identify and remove the deficiencies in the intelligence and physical security agencies.

The Government of India, by taking advantage of the apathy and confusion in the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), has skilfully avoided any enquiry into the 26/11 terrorist attacks and diverted public attention away from its sins of commission and omission. The Government of Maharashtra did appoint an enquiry committee headed by S.D.Pradhan, former Home Secretary, but its report has been classified and not shared with the legislative assembly and the public on the unconvincing ground that releasing it could affect the ongoing prosecution.

The relatives of the security forces officers and civilians, who were killed by the terrorists, should emulate the relatives of those killed on 9/11 in the US, mobilise themselves and campaign for the constitution of a national commission to enquire into the terrorist strikes.

Kavita Karkare, the widow of Hemant Karkare, the brave head of the anti-terrorism squad of the Maharashtra Police who was brutally killed by the terrorists, should take the lead in the matter.

I never found oppurtunity to meet Hemant Karkare personally but one of his batchmate Raj Kanojia IPS , presently ADG CID WB police, told my colleague Ashika Singh that Karkare was an extremely sincere officer who, like the other officers killed by the terrorists, sacrificed his life in the fight against terrorism. Their sacrifice and the sacrifice of the civilians who were killed should not be allowed to go in vain.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Obama's Failure to Understand Indian Distrust of China

The failure of President Barack Obama to understand the distrust of China in large sections of the Indian civil society has landed the US in a situation in which the considerable goodwill between India and the US created during the administration of his predecessor George Bush stands in danger of being diluted by his unthinking words and actions.
The distrust of China in the Indian civil society is much deeper than even the distrust of Pakistan. Even today, despite Pakistan's continued use of terrorism against India, there is some goodwill for the people of Pakistan in many sections of the Indian civil society. As against this, outside the traditional communist and other leftist circles, one would hardly find any section which trusts China ---its Government as well as its people.
The Indian distrust of China arises mainly from three factors. First, the Sino-Indian war of 1962. Second, China's role in giving Pakistan a military nuclear and missile capability for use against India. Third, the Chinese blockage of the pre 26/11 efforts in the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council to declare the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), as a terrorist organisation and its subsequent opposition for a similar declaration against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JED).
The dubious Chinese stand on the issue of Pakistani use of terrorism against India is viewed by many in India as amounting to collusion.
The Indian suspicions of China have been magnified in recent years by Beijing's Look South policy. China is not a South Asian power, but it has sought to create for itself a large South Asian presence by developing a military supply relationship with the countries of the region, by helping India's neighbours in the development of their infrastructure of strategic importance such as ports and by supporting the Maoists of Nepal.
At a time when concerns in India over the increasing Chinese strategic presence and influence in India's neigbourhood have been increasing, it is an amazingly shocking act of insensitivity on the part of Obama and his policy advisers to project China as a benign power with a benevolent role in South Asia---- whether for promoting understanding between India and Pakistan or for influencing developments in other countries of the region.
It is politically naive on the part of Obama to expect that Indian political and public opinion will accept any role for China in South Asia in matters which impact on India's core interests. Bush's China policy had favourable vibrations in India by highlighting the threats that are likely to be posed by its military modernisation made possible by its economic power. A convergence of concerns over China between Washington and New Delhi laid the foundation for the strategic relationship between the countries.
Obama's projection of China as a trustworthy partner of the US in jointly tackling long-standing contentious issues in South Asia shows a shocking ignorance of the fact that China was one of the causes of the persistence of these issues. Its effort has always been not to promote mutual understanding and harmony in South Asia, but to keep India isolated by keeping alive the old distrusts and animosities and creating new ones.
At a time when Indian public opinion was looking forward to fruitful results from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US, reports from Beijing on Obama's visit to China would strengthen the impression that Obama is not India's cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Immediately following the arrests of David Coleman Headley, born as Dawood Gilani, and Tawahur Hossain Rana, a Pakistan born Canadian citizen, by the FBI in early November in the USA, the Bangladeshi security and counter-terrorism agencies moved to arrest three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) activists who were planning to attack the Indian High Commission and the US Embassy in Dhaka.

The connection between the two sets of arrests is evident. Available information till now identified the Headley – Rana duo had targeted the newspaper of Denmark (which allegedly had insulted Islam) and various strategic and civilian targets in India including the National Defence College (NDC) and other Indian and US targets. Both had visited India more than once and they appear to be connected with the LET’s “26/11” Mumbai attack. Their travel tracks between India and Pakistan and their activities and meetings in the two countries are being investigated.

The LET was primarily created by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence to target Kashmir and expanded later to attack other parts of India. The Americans had backed Pakistan through the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, and the USA was a friend. But the American withdrawal after the war left the Pak-Afghan region in a mess. Pakistan seized the opportunity to turn the Mujahidin into the Taliban. Both the Taliban and the ISI/Pakistani army hosted Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda Islamised the Taliban into following the intolerant Wahabi line.

Washington remained non-interfering and tolerant in the interest of oil and gas transit from Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan. This created an almost tailor made situation for Pakistan’s “strategic depth in Afghanistan” strategy in case of an India-Pakistan war. The ISI co-opted the Al Qaeda along with the Taliban.

The ISI/Pak army/Taliban/Al Qaeda team makes for a complex issue. But at the root of this potpourri is General and President Zia-ul-Haq’s vision of creating a conservative Islamic society where the intelligence, security forces and the army would be the guardians of his ideology. At the bottom line: the creation of Bangladesh with India’s involvement had to be avenged. While sections in Pakistan’s civil society and press have begun to realize the expectations of a globalized world, the monster created by Zia-ul-Haq’s vision has grown hugely and is threatening to devour the country. Unfortunately, sections in the ISI and the army still remain wedded to the old idea.

The September 11, 2001 (9/11) Al Qaeda terrorist attack in USA changed much of the picture. The Americans are aware and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly made it clear during her Pakistan visit in early November this year, that important sections in the Pak army, the ISI and the establishment are hand in gloves with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The LET, the strongest ISI terrorist front organization headed by Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, are not permitted to attack American assets inside Pakistan. Although the US has imperative strategic interest in Pakistan, a major attack on the US Embassy in Islamabad may very well precipitate devastating punitive action from the US. Therefore, a conducive country had to be found where the US could be targeted under cover. Bangladesh was tailor made, with an existing base which launched terrorism in India.

A significant number of Bangladeshis had fought as mercenaries in the Afghan-Soviet war. Trained in camps in Pakistan under the ISI, and in Afghanistan under the Taliban, some also fought in Palestine, some in Chechnya. Almost all of them returned to Bangladesh, they returned as emissaries of the ISI/Taliban-Al Qaeda team, and the ISI-LET became the controlling agent.

Since its birth in 1971 in a bloody struggle against Pakistan, Bangladesh underwent a series of upheavals, coups and revolts after the assassination of its founder and President, Sk. Mujibur Rahman, on August 15, 1975. Between August and November 1975 those perceived to be pro-India whether politicians, military officers or intellectuals were massacred. The USA and the West looked at these developments benignly. It was the era of the cold war – US-Pakistan-China axis versus the India-Soviet partnership vibrating discordantly in the region.

Major Zia-ur-Rehman, a Bengali in the Pakistan army, apparently a freedom fighter in Bangladesh’s liberation war against Pakistan in 1971, was the main usurper of the country’s freedom and beneficiary of Sk. Mujib’s assassination. Although he died in another coup in 1981, he formed the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). He brought the anti-liberation and pro-Pakistan group, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) and their linked organizations back from political banishment. These people had collaborated with the Pakistani army in Bangladesh, and were responsible for the rape and massacre of thousands of Bangladeshis.

The BNP, during its tenure in government from 1991 to 1996, and 2001 to 2006 in collaboration with the JEI and two other parties, turned Bangladesh into a country run by terrorists and Islamic extremists. The entire Pakistan establishment was their mentor, and the BNP/JEI combine with other obscurantists like the Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ) became the executors.

To start with, the common enemy was India, mainly because of India’s role in the birth of Bangladesh. But they raised the anti-India tirade into a national agenda and a Pakistan sponsored Wahabi Islamic sentiment had to be introduced. History was distorted in text books to suggest that the 1971 war was fought against India.

Capturing power by whatever means in a small developing country through election, is understandable. Even extending the hold by some means through democratic sham would still be somewhat hands off from the international community. But if the powers that be take to terrorism and encouragement of religious extremism that can hurt the international community especially when it is fighting terrorism, makes for another evaluation.

There are three major criminal and anti-national cases in Bangladeshi courts which are likely to come to a conclusion in a few months.

One is the Sk. Mujibur Rahman assassination case in which the main perpetrators of the crime are going to receive their sentences, with the verdict scheduled for November 19. The aftermath may witness some bloodshed from among the ruling Awami League.

The other is the trial of the assassination attempt on Awami League President and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, elder daughter of Sk. Mujibur Rahman, on August 21, 2004 at a party rally. The grenade attack killed 24 Awami League leaders and cadres and injured scores of others. Sk. Hasina was also severely injured. This attack took place at the height of BNP-JEI led four party alliance government.

The under trials include Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami, Bangladesh, (HUJI-BD) Commander Mufti Hannan who conducted the attack; Harris Choudhury, BNP Chairperson and Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s political advisor; Abdus Salam Pintu, Deputy Minister in the BNP – JEI government and a close friend of Khaleda Zia’s all powerful son Tareque Rehman; Moulana Tajuddin, leader of the Bangladesh chapter of the LET and brother of Pintu; Luftozzaman Babar, Minister of State for Home Affairs in the BNP-JEI government and a close friend of Tareque Rehman and an acolyte of Begum Khaleda Zia, among others.

It is to note that David Headley was in close touch with Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the Pakistani HUJI and mentor of HUJI-BD. Kashmiri, who is from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), was groomed by the ISI and the Pakistan army for Jihad in Indian Kashmir. But the two sides have fallen out at least, officially.

The third case is that of interdiction (accidentally) of ten truckloads of arms at the Fertilizer Jetty at the Chittagong Port in April 2004. The huge quantity of arms including rocket launchers, were meant for North-East Indian militants, the United Liberation Force of Assam (ULFA). Had this consignment reached its destination, the mayhem in Assam and other areas in that region can be imagined.

The ongoing investigations into this case have already exposed a virtual terrorist organization resting at the heart of the BNP-JEI led government. It was waging a war of terror against India along with collaboration and assistance from the Pakistani government. Almost the entire top leadership was hosted by Dhaka. Other Indian insurgents also had access and residency in Bangladesh.

The conspiracy footsteps go to the highest level of the BNP and JEI involving BNP senior Joint General Secretary Tareque Rehman, and the JEI Amir Motiur Rehman Nizami, who at that time was the Industries Minister and controlled the Chittagong Fertilizer Jetty. Former top intelligence officers from the Director General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and the National Security and Intelligence (NSI), including their former heads are in custody today undergoing interrogation. Lutfozzaman Babar, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s political adviser, Harris Choudhury and others were also involved and are being questioned. The scale and reach of this conspiracy suggest that Prime Minister Khaleda could not have been unaware of it.

It is well documented that Tareque Rehman was the godfather of Islamic extremists like Khatme Nabuwat Movement, the Jamatul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) and some others. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia openly said in 2004, that there was nothing like the JMB and it was media creation. She was also involved in covering the terrorists.

The most revealing aspect of the investigation directly links with the JEI-HUJI conspiracy today in Bangladesh. The ISI was directly involved in arranging the procurement and delivery of this arms consignment as was Dubai based ISI’s front media company the ARY. The ARY was a money transfer company for the Taliban and the Al Qaeda, according to reports. Finally, was the introduction of ISI controlled underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim in this project. The D-company arrived in Bangladesh.

The basic network of the LET, HUJI and others were laid from the mid-1990s. They were politically important for the BNP and JEI to fight the Awami League and other secular nationalist political parties.

Attacks on the life of Sk. Hasina started in April 2001. The person entrusted for this job from the beginning was HUJI commander, Mufti Hannan, who also led the August 21 attack. Interestingly, the grenades used for the ‘August 21’ attack were Arges grenades made in Pakistan, and part of the Chittagong consignment. Babar has confessed to this, proving they were pilfering from the confiscated consignment. These same grenades were used in the attacks which killed Shah AMS Kibria, and injured British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury, and others.

Those arrested in the planned attacks on the Indian High Commission, the US Embassy and some eminent persons, reveal that the LET and HUJI are working together in Bangladesh. One of the LET handlers arrested is Maulana Tajuddin, brother of BNP Deputy Minister Pintu, who is also in custody. Another is HUJI leader Abdul Majid.

Three Pakistani LET activists have also been arrested, but the detective bureau suspects about 30 have come from Pakistan, and are being protected by their Bangladeshi counterparts. One of those arrested by DB, Madrassa teacher Mufti Harun, confessed to his interrogators that Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the founder of the Pakistan LET and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, had instructed him over telephone to attack the US Embassy in Dhaka. Hafez Sayeed is an accused in Mumbai terrorist attack “26/11”, but the Pakistani establishment fear to touch him.

The BNP-JEI government allowed several Al Qaeda connected foreign NGOs like the Al Harmain Foundation of Saudi Arabia and the Revival lslamic Heritage Society (RIHS) of Kuwait to set up base in Bangladesh and bring in money to fund jihadists in the country. A research report developed in Bangladesh in 2005 says there were 125 Islamic organizations functioning under NGO cover that were either militant or supported militancy. Their ideological tenets were controlled either by the rigid Moududism, or JEI, or ISI controlled Wahabism.

What is necessary is to recognize urgently that the Islamic militancy or terrorism has networked globally, but the epicentre is still located in Pakistan.

Like its ‘strategic depth’ strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan believes in waging India-centric low intensity war from Bangladesh. The US has been a more recent inclusion in the Pakistani/ISI perception.

Sk. Hasina, as the elder daughter of Sk. Mujibur Rahman is the living symbol of the breakup of Pakistan with the liberation of Bangladesh. If she is eliminated, part of Pakistan’s insult of 1971 will be avenged.

The bottom line is that the BNP-JEI government not only raped the country financially, not that some others have been innocent, but became a state sponsoring terrorism. Prime Minister Sk. Hasina declared that eradication of terrorism was on the top of the agenda. She lived up to her words. She has also called for a regional approach to counter terrorism. It is time that the international community, in its war against terrorism, co-operate closely with the government of Bangladesh.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Response to Arundhati Roy: “The heart of India is under attack”

In a recently published article in the British newspaper, Guardian, Arundhati Roy offers another scathing critique of the ‘militarised’ Indian state. In her own words “to justify enforcing a corporate land grab, the state needs an enemy – and it has chosen the Maoists.” The arguments in this article are not new; if one has followed Roy’s other writings on the Maoist issue in India as also on other kinds of non-state violence. She has earlier said that the “Maoists are for the Congress what the Muslims were for the BJP”- in different words, the ‘other’, the enemy that needs to be feared and annihilated. Roy is a prolific writer and thinker and as an intellectual her critique of the state is valid and also much needed. However, it is her doomsday predictions, her vehement and almost rhetorical rejection of the state and her constant demonising of the state, her uncritical endorsement of non state actors and their violent politics, and absolving the people of any responsibility that I would like to problematise further in this article.

To be fair to Roy, her analyses of the Maoist insurgency holds merit in many ways as she talks about the rising gap between rich and poor, injustices faced by the socially backward at the hands of the influential, the ever-growing tentacles of the capitalist free market and the MNCs salivating at opportunities to grab the lands of the poor. All of these are enough to provoke the violent social and political unrest amongst the masses, such as the kinds we have seen with the Naxalites and Maoists. Fact is Roy is not the only one saying this. Several people have pointed this out even while discussing the security implications of and responses to the Maoist challenge. A mere travel across India will reveal the stark differences of wealth. The malls and shopping complexes cater to the growing consumer class while poverty continues unabated. The root causes of Maoist violence lie in such inequalities, in the exploitative economy, in the apathy of the governments and in the corrupt practices which are unhindered. Coming from Ranchi, the capital of the state of Jharkhand, I am not oblivious to these root causes that have prompted the less privileged to seek refuge in an armed rebellion. If the Chief Minister of a state is busy amassing wealth and purchasing mines in Africa, bureaucrats busy making money to finance their private travels and luxurious lifestyles; what does one expect of a people who struggle to make ends meet and who struggle for every dignity that is befitting of a human life? Armed rebellion and violence seems a viable option for people who have nothing to lose.

However, what Arundhati Roy and others like her choose to ignore is how the Maoist war is not just a war of the have-nots against the haves. By rejecting the offers of dialogue and peaceful negotiations, by refusing to give up violence, causing large scale destruction of infrastructure (schools, railway lines and other public utility goods), by extortions, kidnappings and gruesome killings, the Maoist violence has degenerated into a war against all peoples and public utilities. Any sympathy one may have had for their cause has eroded as one questions whether anti state resistance must involve such mindless destruction and violence that inconvenience people further and add to their miseries. The Maoists are creating and endorsing the very chaos, fear, apathy, exploitation destruction and violence that they are supposed to be resisting. Roy also overlooks the other important questions. How is the unending supply of arms and weapons, bombs and explosives being made available to the Maoists? If they are all the people dying of hunger, starvation and entrenched in poverty, where do they get the resources needed for their armed rebellion? Where is the money coming from? What are their networks, supply chains? The chaos and fear the Maoists have unleashed is preventing normal activities such as farming and agriculture in remote areas. People who do not agree with their methods are hastily disposing off agricultural land and property and are forced to flee their homes and villages. In several Maoist infected areas where the Maoists have driven out the people, land remains uncultivated. Clearly those terrorised by the Maoists are not “people” worthy of Roy’s sympathies.

Roy said in a CNN IBN interview that “my fear is that because of this economic interest the government and establishment actually needs a war. It needs to militarise. For that it needs an enemy…you have an army of very poor people being faced down by an army of rich that are corporate-backed.” On the ground level, how does it benefit the state or the governments to have a rebellious group constantly eroding their resources? The security provisions in the light of the Maoist attacks require massive financial and human resources investments that are hardly beneficial to the state. Even for a ‘militarised’ state it is one thing to have an external enemy and threat (that basically enhances its legitimacy) and another to have an intra state insurgency that would erode its resources, question its legitimacy and threaten its very existence. It is one thing to argue, for example, that Pakistan supports terrorism against India and another to say that a militarised state that Pakistan is, it needs the war against the Taliban; it creates and sustains this internal war against the Taliban. The latter, even the hard liners and hawks within the Indian establishment would find it hard to accept. An intra state insurgency aimed at over throwing the state cannot be part of the state’s own militarisation plans. It is not in the interest of the Indian state to create and sustain the war with a group of disgruntled citizens.

Moreover, it is hardly a case of ‘an army of the poor against the army of the rich’, as Roy suggests. On the contrary, it seems like the Maoists are better armed, better equipped and have better intelligence facilities. The police and paramilitary forces in India are hardly the ‘army of the rich’. Joining the police in India is fuelled more by an economic need than with the real intention to be an agent of the state. Several policemen and constables are unwilling to risk their lives in Maoist infected areas and are utilising their life savings to get civilian and urban postings. They do not have the requisite arms and weapons to fight the Maoists nor the willingness to fight them. An ill equipped and demotivated police force where constables and policemen are also from poor and backward classes hardly merits such harsh criticism as Roy posits. In many conversations with policemen in Ranchi, I have found them fearful of any postings in Maoist areas, and continuously requesting for more urban postings like in Ranchi or Jamshedpur. And all of them are not exactly high class wealthy policemen but young and poor men who might eventually be the victim of a Maoist landmine attack or be killed in an encounter. On the other hand, an armed movement, like the Maoists, requires tangible resources and not mere rhetoric and ideology as Roy would have us believe.

I have never argued nor believe that the state is sacrosanct and we should not be critical of the state and its policies. As a feminist I would be the first to argue that patriarchal states promote unequal gender relations and are especially biased against women and minorities. Critique of the state is very necessary in any informed intellectual and democratic policy discourse. However, Roy makes the state into a monstrous actor and absolves ‘people’ of all responsibilities. She never suggests alternatives as to how we must fight/critique the state and instead legitimises anti-state violence all the time. She conveniently overlooks that those who actually die in this anti state violence are not corrupt and wealthy politicians, but poor people, and poor policemen. Francis Indwar, the police inspector of the special branch of the Jharkhand police was the only bread earning member of his family. He was kidnapped and brutally killed by the Maoists not in an armed combat, but in an act contrary to the revolutionary path. The body of the inspector was found in Bundu Police Station area near Ranchi on 6 October 2009. The unarmed policeman was beheaded all in the name of the anti state resistance that Roy justifies. There are many other Francis Indwars. Human rights activists like Roy and others remained silent on the death of Indwar and continue to make noises about the arrests of Maoist leaders and ideologues like Kobad Ghandy and Chhatradhar Mahato. Hundreds of other policemen and other unarmed people have died in the Maoist attacks while Roy accuses the media of demonising the Maoists and coming up with figures about Maoist violence that are inaccurate and even false. The state, the media and also the international community are all against the “people”, some people on whom Roy’s intellectual discourse inscribes the status of victims!

Roy refuses to hold the Maoists accountable for their violence. Again this would not surprise anyone who follows her writings. She also justified the 26/11 attacks forgetting that the people who died in the brutal acts of terror had nothing to do with the ‘state’ and its policies. Her stance was more problematic when she suggested in another Guardian article last year that it was justified for a group of terrorists to come from across the border and carry out the carnage one saw in Mumbai, all in the name of resisting the state’s policies and injustices. She reminded us that we deserved it and it would continue to happen because of the way minorities were treated in India. It did not worry her that those delivering the violent justice were not even part of the Indian state but misguided jihadis from across the border. What she also forgot to ask in her over zealous need to justify the violence was whether the Muslim minority in India preferred to be represented by such brutal killers. They did not and expressed their sentiments quite clearly by refusing to consider the terrorists as Muslims in the first place. Her sympathies were not for those who died in the Mumbai attacks. Her sympathies are not with Francis Indwar. She had more sympathies for the Taliban who needed to be ‘understood’ as she famously said during her visit to Pakistan. Mourning for the dead in her intellectual understanding is always about which class or discourse the dead belong to.

Roy justifies and legitimises violence by non state actors in the name of self defence and resisting an oppressive state and condemns state violence. It is the exact opposite of what statist discourses do; they do not question violence perpetrated by the states while non state actors become illegitimate monsters and a nuisance. She does not prefer the intellectual middle ground nor concerns herself with the multiplicities of experiences and ideas within any discourse. It is worthwhile to note that she does not engage with the idea of violence itself (a favourite of both the right and the left within the political spectrum). Victimhood is the construct she often uses to justify violence, but victimhood is politically and sparingly applied to those resisting the state alone. Why is one type of violence okay, one type of exclusion okay, one type of fear and exploitation okay, one type of communalism okay? The burden of the ideology she carries is more than the weight of these questions, perhaps.

I have argued that violence has its uses but should not become an end in itself. This seems to be the case with the Maoists as also with the Taliban both of which continue to reject democratic methods and peaceful solutions. Militants and separatists in the North East of India and even Kashmir have all at various points come to the negotiating table. Groups such as the Hamas and even the LTTE had brief periods where they realised the potentials of non violent engagement with the states they resisted and participated in democratic processes. Wherever violence outlives its purpose, the political entity or resistance group meets its doom and fails the very people it represents/acts for. It has happened most recently with the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Excessive use of violence by states also results in their failure and ultimate demise. Khmer Rouge, German Nazism, Italian Fascism all saw their end. Most recently and closer home even the Pakistani regime has realised that violence can turn its ugly head like a Frankenstein monster. By refusing to not engage in a democratic manner and persisting in their violent methods, the Maoists are making the same mistake that groups such as the LTTE have done in the past.

Democracy and democratic methods can also give rise to Nazism and Fascism as we have seen in the past. We could also contest the idea of democracy and democratic methods in India. But I still prefer this democracy to what I see in the neighbourhood (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma and Bangladesh) or for that matter in many parts of the Western world. Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram has on different occasions said that “Maoists must abjure violence and take the path of democracy and dialogue.” The governments of states affected by Maoist violence have been asked to discuss the issues of development, neglect, deprivation and government structure in case they (Maoists) give up arms. Are they willing to seize the opportunity? Roy says that government should talk to the Maoists unconditionally. Is that even a legitimate or logical demand?

And what exactly is this monster called the ‘state’ that Arundhati Roy continues to spell doom for? State comprises of territory, sovereignty, government and most importantly population. We do not exist outside the state but are part of it. In IR theory, as also in other disciplines there is a great deal of pessimism about the state as the international and political actor. However, a total rejection of the state in the developing/underdeveloped world is not only dangerous but is also an indication of a very narrow understanding of the state. Where civil society is still in the nascent stage and where state with all its evils remains the only hope of the people, Roy’s arguments are at best empty rhetoric. Feminists also who have been very critical of the statist discourse and the treatment of women under patriarchal states have not called for the total annihilation of the state, but have tirelessly worked for reforms. Even non state groups have been keen to capture political power and run de facto states (LTTE is an example). I am not suggesting that the state is beyond questioning but only that there needs to be a constant and more sustained theoretical and intellectual engagement with the idea of state and alternatives to it. The state, as an idea and as a political entity exists and cannot be wished away overnight.

Roy has raised some very good points/good critiques earlier but making the state into some monster and all of us as helpless people who are victims of the state, manipulated by the state is not exactly an analytical framework which can provide succour to the helpless or serious policy alternatives. State is not an entity out there, but a creation in which most people have a role. She deprives the people of their agentive capabilities, forgetting that state is because of the people and not people because of the state. If the state must change, reform or even be overthrown, we, the people have to accept responsibility and act accordingly.

And finally, violence of all sorts, though sometimes necessary must not outlive its purpose. History bears testimony to that.

“In violence, we forget who we are.”
---Mary McCarthy---

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

China’s Dalai Lama Question - India in The Cleft

As the Dalai Lama prepares for the November 8 visit to Tawang, where the monastery has become one of the various arguments put for the by China for its claim over Arunachal Pradesh, the irate leaders in Beijing continue their strong opposition to the visit. India has made it clear recently from the highest level that Arunachal Pradesh is India’s sovereign territory and does not recognise its disputed nature as claimed by China. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh politely, but firmly, made it clear to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Thailand (October 24) that the Dalai Lama was an “honoured guest” and was free to travel anywhere in India.

India’s position on the Dalai Lama has been consistent. The Dalai Lama is considered a spiritual leader and is not allowed to engage in politics. (read anti-China activities). The Tibetan refugees in India have to keep within Indian laws. In peacetime statistics, India hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. There are an estimated 20 million Bangladeshi illegal economic immigrants and there are people from many other countries in India. All have to abide by Indian laws.

The Dalai Lama has now publicly stated that his visit to Tawang was religious and not political. This is hardly going to satisfy China. The Chinese leadership has equated the entire embodiment of the 14th Dalai Lama with sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping had a sharp vision for the future of the country. He was persecuted by Mao Zedong, expelled three times from the Communist Party, and rehabilitated each time by Mao because each time he was required to retrieve the country from the chaos created by Mao himself. Deng was the father of China’s reform and opening up policy, and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. He put full integration with Hong Kong at another 50 years, and with Taiwan a hundred years if needed, and the “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong and Macao for the short term. In his vision for the long term future how ideology and politics would evolve was not known. The underlying message was communist China could change to a capitalist China – though capitalism could be defined in different ways. Redefining capitalism has already started.

It was Deng Xiaoping who told the Dalai Lama’s delegation in 1982, that anything on Tibet’s future could be discussed except independence. Interpreted, since the Chinese do not exactly spell out in words, the offer was to discuss the extent of Tibetan autonomy within overall China’s sovereignty. This gave wide configurations to the Dalai Lama’s set up to explore, and they did, studying different existing examples around the world.

In hindsight, and without access to any other information, it can only be concluded that Deng Xiaoping hoped for a closure of the Tibet issue between China, and the Dalai Lama and his supporters across the world.

The Dalai Lama had already opted for a non-violent path, and for real autonomy, not independence. He made this exposition first to the US Senate in 1987, and in his Strasbourg declaration in 1988.

All indications from Deng Xiaoping’s observation suggest he was aware that in convoluted claim of China’s historical sovereignty over Tibet was legally not tenable, and hence enveloping the 14th Dalai Lama and Tibet on a template of somewhat extended autonomy would fundamentally bring this important buffer state with India, into China’s fold. Deng Xiaoping was no liberal. He was practical and realistic. Tibet, he felt, would be a festering sore otherwise.

At the same time Deng would not allow pro-independence movements by Tibetans in Tibet. He sent his chosen leader of the fourth generation leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), now President Hu Jintao, as Tibet Autonomous Regions (TAR) Party Secretary to ensure that pro-independence sentiments did not get an upper hand. Hu Jintao rose to this task, crushing the demonstrations by Tibetan monks in Lhasa in 1987-88. Greater autonomy for Tibet was Deng Xiaoping’s settlement formula.

Paramount leaders Deng Xiaoping’s strategy on Tibet and many other areas do not obtain any longer. As he started losing grip because of old age, things began to change. After his death, an overhaul of Chinese policies have become noticeable. Deng Xiaoping was no peacenik. But he was a pragmatist with foresight, and actually aware how global politics was moving. His “one, country, two systems” formula for Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan (with much more autonomy for Taiwan than the other two).

Taiwan is a different issue. It is virtually independent and its status is guaranteed by the USA. Even then, there have been recent movements towards a more stable relations between mainland China and Taiwan.

Deng Xiaoping formula on Tibet developed further could have worked for the following basic reactions. First Tibet, or Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), a truncated map of the original Greater Tibet is within China, and land locked. The Dalai Lama and his advisers in the Kashag (the Dalai Lama’s Cabinet) and outside are not separatist militants or terrorists as Beijing paints them to be.

A land locked region, the Dalai Lama is fully aware and has spoken too, that Tibetans could greatly benefit from China’s development while remaining within overall Chinese sovereignty. Most importantly, the Dalai Lama is not anti-China, he is pro-Tibetan autonomy which will give his people the freedom preserve and keep alive their history, culture, religion, and manage their own development.

Unfortunately, China sees a ghost of separatism or “splittism” in every word the Dalai Lama utters. Their basic position still remains that there is a hidden plan of “independence” in the Dalai Lama’s offer of autonomy. The March 14, 2008 Lhasa riots further convinced the Chinese the Dalai Lama was behind it, something they themselves suspect is not true. The 2008 Beijing Olympics offered the two frustrated minorities, the Tibetans and the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang, an opportunity to protest and demonstrate for their rights.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is faced with a serious dilemma on the Dalai Lama. This has not only to do with issues like sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also the legitimacy of the Communist Party itself.

Since the 1989 students demonstration in Beijing, a tiny but increasing audible civil society, backed by some retired veteran leaders, are asking questions and protesting the methods of the CCP. Freedom of expression is the core. Issues are also related to religious beliefs, and religions like Buddhism are becoming attractive to the people. Buddhism and meditation practice like the Falung Gong movement are becoming popular not only among sections of the people, but also among the security and military establishments. Therefore, the leadership feels any room to the Dalai Lama and Buddhism would be inviting threat.

The current Chinese leadership is debating whether to settle the Tibet issue during the 14th Dalai Lama’s life time, or keep him at bay with a hard line approach hoping that after his death the movement will fall into disarray. There is also a stream of opinion that the Dalai Lama is the best bet as he was holding back the more radical Tibetan elements. The recent example of sentencing four Tibetans to death for the Lhasa riots, two of whom were executed last week, suggests the hard line is the choice of the moment.

President and Party General Secretary Hu Jintao holds the policies on the Tibetans and Uighurs firmly in his hand. Following the July 05 Uighur riots in Urumqi this year, no firm decision on actions was taken by the leadership till Hu returned from a G-20 meeting in Germany, which he cut short.

China is using its economic clout to cut the western support to the Dalai Lama. They made French President Sarkozy eat humble pie. US President Barack Obama decided not to meet the Dalai Lama before his upcoming visit to China in mid-November. These are, however, political games.

The Dalai Lama figures very high for the CCP in the India context. The proximity of the Dalai Lama’s residency in Dharamsala to Tibet is perceived by Beijing not only a card in India’s hand. But even without India’s involvement on the Tibet question the holy leader’s halo shines over Tibet.

The Dalai Lama’s position on Tawang and the entire Arunachal Pradesh in territorial terms would challenge some of China’s basic premises on sovereignty over Tibet. Beijing’s vehement opposition to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang (or Arunachal Pradesh as whole) came after he declared in 2007 the legality of the MacMahon Line.

The Chinese position is that the Chinese Ambassador in Lhasa only initialled and did not sign the agreement at the 1914 Shimla Agreement which drew the MacMahon Line demarcating the Southern border of Tibet. The question is what authority did the Chinese Ambassador have in the demarcation of the India-Tibet boundary.

China claims the Ambassador was a symbol of China’s sovereignty over Tibet. They are yet to clarify how an Ambassador represents sovereignty.

The Shimla Agreement had two parts. One was the demarcation of the India-Tibet border, and the other was to draw the Tibet-China border. The Ambassador had relevance to the latter agreement, but had no locus standi on the former.

The 14th Dalai Lama remains very important to endorse China’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh. Equally, his position accepting the legality of the MacMahon Line negates China’s claim on this strategic state of India.

China would not have so militantly opposed to the Dalai Lama’s Tawang visit if they did not see it in the larger perspective on the legality of their claim on Tibet.

China’s claim on Tibet is based on manipulating history to which most of the international community was in agreement over these years either explicitly or implicitly. But Beijing is actually aware that if the historical case is re-opened, the first thing that will come to light is that the title of “Dalai” was bestowed upon Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhists by the Mongol Khans, and not by the Chinese emperor. The Khans brought the Dalai Lamas to Mongolia to introduce the peaceful aspect of Buddhism to counter the paganism which was destroying the country with internecine wars. China, as it was then or as it is now, had no relevance to Tibet’s destiny.

The Chinese would be aware that in India, the Dalai Lama goes far beyond politics. He is intricately enmeshed in the psyche of the Indian people as a religious leader of their own. China appears to have convinced some Indian writers recently to suggest Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru committed the cardinal sin in hosting the 14th Dalai Lama and his followers in 1959 when they escaped from the Chinese army’s Tibet offensive. Therefore, it would be wise to expel him from India for the betterment of Indo-China relations, it is argued by some Indian Sinophiles. The same writers fall into deep coma where Chinese assistance to Indian insurgents and separatists are concerned.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Chinese authorities understand that pouring venom on the Dalai Lama is a frustrating effort. Nobody in the world believes this propaganda, and their acceptance inside China is losing purchase.

The bottom line that emerges is that the 14th Dalai Lama remains the center-point on the Tibet question. The Chinese have two options. Either settle the issue during the life time of the 14th Dalai Lama and not interfere with the selection of his reincarnation. Or face the whole question after his demise, something which is unpredictable but could be worse.

China is riding on its economic power. But this power is dependent on its export industry much of which is controlled by foreign interests. This command is not permanent and the balance can change when China’s cheap labour market is milked dry.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Needless to state, but imperative to be highlighted at the very outset of my addressing the subject of my talk “Role of Media in Coverage of Intra-State Conflicts Particularly Proxy War”, is that the Indian Armed Forces and other forces engaged in battling threats to India’s internal security along with the Indian people view the Indian media and should continue to view the Indian media as a pillar of the Indian nation- state when other pillars of state have lost their sheen in Indian public’s esteem.
Naturally, the expectations of India’s Armed Forces and the Indian public from the Indian media in coverage of internal security threats are very high.

Through this paramount perspective I would wish to address the subject of my talk. It would be intellectually dishonest if while delving in the examination of the theme one is hesitant to share truthfully one’s perceptions on the Indian media’s role in the coverage of India's internal security challenges that plague India.

Most of my observations would be borne out by analyses available on the Internet, nationally and internationally, especially after Mumbai 9/11.

The Indian media is doing yeoman’s service in keeping India's political leadership and the Indian bureaucracy under scrutiny and highlighting waywardness and misgovernance wherever and whenever due. The Indian media would be well within its rights to keep India's political leadership and the Indian security forces too under scrutiny in terms of being vigilant and prepared to meet India's national security challenges.

However, there is one vital difference when it comes to Indian media’s scrutiny and coverage of India's intra-state conflicts and proxy war.

The vital difference that Indian media needs to recognize is that in the coverage of Indian security forces operations in an intra-state conflicts environment, there are two distinct and different DEFINING CONTEXTS and DEFINING PERSPECTIVES – the first is political and the second “National Security.”

Political coverage and analyses of root causes of intra-state conflicts should be kept separate by the Indian media in their coverage from “operational coverage” of security forces operations. The latter falls in the ‘national security domain’ and any adverse or indifferent media coverage impacts India's international, regional and domestic image. More importantly, Indian media should not fall prey to the disinformation strategies of the anti-Indian terrorists, insurgents and militants who tend to use the Indian media for vilifying the Indian security forces and lower their morale.


India today stands at strategic and political cross-roads as never before. Poised on the verge of emerging as a global power on the strength of her economic resurgence and national attributes of power generate their own set of problems from nations adversarial to India centering on arresting India’s rise.

Major inter-state wars are no longer a policy option in today’s global security environment to secure one's national objectives to cut down opposing nations to seize. Limited Wars and Asymmetric Warfare are however a more attractive policy option.

India’s emergence as a regional power in South Asia and its ascendancy towards global power status is adversely viewed by Pakistan and China.

Is it not a curious coincidence that India’s rise in power potential is matched by an increase in India’s intra-state conflicts encompassing a wide spectrum from proxy war, terrorism, insurgency, militancy and fundamentalism. Therefore, there is a BIGGER GEO-POLITICAL ANGLE involved.


The defining contextual background that the Indian media needs to reflect in their coverage of India’s intra-state conflicts can be summarized as follows:

· India’s security environment today is embattled both externally and internally.

· India’s main adversaries, namely Pakistan and China despite peace overtures by India continue to be intransigent and adversarial.

· India’s internal security environment today in coincidence with the growing intransigence of Pakistan and China has become more turbulent, disruptive and threatening.

· The Indian Army is over-stretched in meeting its primary role of defending India’s external and internal security and meeting calls for disaster relief etc

· The Para-military and police forces are overwhelmed by handling increasing incidence of terrorism, insurgency and militancy.

While defining the contextual background of India’s intra-state conflicts it needs to be stressed to the Indian media that Pakistan and China would continue to be long range threats to India’s security and asymmetric warfare in the form of fomenting and facilitating intra-state conflicts within India would be a recurring phenomena.

The Indian Army and other internal security forces are not likely to have respite from these threats for decades to come. The Indian media therefore needs have this contextual background as an in-built component of its media coverage.


The wide spectrum of intra-state conflicts comprising proxy war, terrorism, insurgency and militancy spanning the entire length and breadth of India should no longer be viewed by the Indian media through the narrow prism of being localized law and order problems afflicting a particular State. Intra-state conflicts particularly Pakistan’s unending proxy war needs to be viewed not as an intra-state conflict but as ‘Pakistan’s War Against India’ by asymmetric means

Mumbai 9/11 marked Pakistan’s escalation of its proxy war against India from terrorism and suicide bombings to an armed assault on India by commando groups which held India’s might and sovereignty to ransom for nearly three days in the full glare of international media publicity. Hence forth Pakistan’s proxy war against India needs to be viewed from the perspective of ‘War Against India” and Indian responses fashioned accordingly.

Indian media’s coverage of intra-state conflicts plaguing different parts of India need to be viewed from some significant perspectives as follows:

India’s intra-state conflicts are not the creation of the Indian Army, Para-military forces or the police.
India’s intra-state conflicts with the exception of Pakistan’s proxy war arise from policies or lack of policies of India’s political leadership and its inept and corrupt civil bureaucracy.
Indian Army and the Central and State police forces in intra-state conflict environment have to face the wrath of the affected people which really should be directed at the political leadership and civil bureaucracy.
In combating intra –state conflicts the Indian Army and police forces involved are not only hampered by people’s wrath but also poor intelligence, political interference and political considerations arising from vote-bank considerations especially in proxy war situations.
In combating Pakistan’s proxy war the Indian Army is hampered by the political leadership being susceptible to external pressures and prevailing on the Army to hold its hand in the name of CBMs with Pakistan.
The battle of the security forces against proxy war, terrorism, insurgency and militancy needs to be covered by the Indian media in a manner in which the above perspectives get framed so that accountability is asked from where it is due and not from the Indian Army or police forces.

The security forces cannot provide “instant –fix” solutions to situations which have been allowed to fester for decades by the Indian nation- state due to under-development and social and economic inequalities. The Indian media therefore has to exhibit more understanding, patience and a sense of sensitivity to those battling daily to protect that India lives.


Briefly the common threat that runs through all of India’s intra-state conflicts are:

Armed conflicts intended to attack the sovereignty, national integrity and national fabric of India.
The core aim externally is the diminution of India’s regional and global standing.
The core aim internally is to project that India’s governance is incapable of meeting such challenges when violence and there are used against security forces, government machinery, infrastructure and innocent civilians.
Terrorists, insurgents and militants, in essence, challenge the Constitution of India and the legal provisions that are enshrined in it.
If these are the defining characteristics and in which there could be no dispute, it is pertinent to ask the Indian media whether these defining characteristics are truthfully projected in their coverage.

Is it not a common occurrence in Indian media coverage, where India’s ‘bleeding hearts’ are given more prominence in their allegations that terrorist, militants and insurgents human rights and legal rights are not being respected and that the security forces have been harsh and repressive. Nobody in the media emphasizes that the security forces too have human rights and that the State needs to protect them against false allegations and unsubstantiated charges.

Has the Indian media ever questioned or pondered whether terrorist, militants and insurgents who challenge the Indian Constitution and operate outside it are eligible for refuge and rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution?


Before one ventures to lay out what are the expectations from the Indian media in terms of its coverage of intra-state conflicts and with particular reference to proxy war, one is tempted to ask how does the Indian media itself perceives its role in such an environment where the anti-Indian forces are bent on eating into India’s entrails?

Does the Indian media perceive itself as an inquisition tribunal to castigate the security forces? Does the Indian media perceive itself as a ‘shield’ to protect the political leadership and the civil bureaucracy from its culpability in the generation of such conflicts? Does the Indian media perceive itself as a ‘crusader’ on behalf of India’s “bleeding hearts?” Does the Indian media perceive it has the moral high ground to be judgmental on India’s security forces as they battle for India’s integrity? Or does the Indian media perceive themselves as a pillar of the Indian nation-state as it battles the multiple threats being inflicted on it through the medium of intra-state conflicts and proxy war?

Needless to say that it is the last role that the Indian media should adopt in such an environment and reinforce the impression that it is indeed a pillar of the Indian nation-state.

If that is accepted then my next point is that the Indian media should assert that it would not like its role to be discussed as ‘The Role of Indian Media in Intra-State Conflicts and Proxy War’ but more importantly be discussed as “THE ROLE OF INDIAN MEDIA AGAINST INTRA-STATE CONFLICTS AND PROXY WAR”.

If that be accepted then the role of Indian media as a ‘Force Multiplier' in all its connotations would come fully into play and needs no further elucidation

More importantly in their coverage of such conflicts, if the Indian media has to err it should err on the side of national security imperatives and the security forces, rather than on the side of terrorists, insurgents, and militants and “humanizing” them and glorifying their causes.

Does it need to be emphasized that in intra-state wars and proxy war the security forces are fighting an “invisible enemy” with their one hand tied politically. Does India want to repeat Indian history of yore by letting divisive forces within to tear apart the Indian nation-state?


In the examination of the theme assigned to me I have been asked to particularly dwell on the role of Indian media in proxy war which we all know is being directed, facilitated, financed and facilitated by the Pakistan Army and lately by exploiting the fringe elements of the minority community as local modules and sleeper cells.

These create their own challenges for the security forces both by external parameters and internal political compulsions where each so- called secular political party is competing to outdo the other in terms of minority appeasement.

Rather than highlight where the Indian media has failed in this direction, I would just like to dwell on what the Indian media needs to do and that is “framing” Pakistan’s proxy war and terrorism against India in the correct perspectives which have been touched earlier. Specifically, the perspectives that the Indian media should bear in mind while reporting on Pakistan’s Proxy war against India and which need emphasis are:

Pakistan’s Proxy War and Terrorism is no longer confined to Jammu & Kashmir aimed at the secession of the State from India.
Pakistan’s Proxy War and Terrorism against India is no longer militancy or terrorist activities, or insurgency arising from indigenous root causes.
Pakistan’s Proxy War and Terrorism against India is a full-fledged “War Against India" by Pakistan by applying all the instruments of Asymmetric Warfare against India by a combined and coordinated use of militancy, terrorism, insurgency and possibly tomorrow use of nuclear terrorism.
Pakistan’s Proxy War and Terrorism is no longer targeted at Indian security forces. Today, it targets the Indian Republic as a whole. It targets innocent civilian population and India’s economic, financial, scientific and other strengths including its social fabric.
The root causes of Pakistan’s Proxy War and Terrorism against India, and which transcend any other root causes, is Pakistan’s unrelenting hostility towards India. India is Pakistan’s “Enemy No.1”. Pakistan could not cut down India to size in four wars. It now intends to down-size India strategically by asymmetric warfare which is akin to unleashing termites to eat into the very entrails of the Indian Republic.
The Indian media therefore has to breakout of the fixation that media coverage of Pakistan’s Proxy War needs to be confined or viewed through the myopic lens of militancy and terrorism as some law and order problem. Pakistani apologists, separatists in Kashmir Valley and modules and sleeper cells in heartland India need to be mercilessly exposed by the Indian media in their coverage of Pakistan’s proxy war.

In this sphere one would recommend that the Indian media should transcend the domain of national security and give a laser focus on the Indian Government’s policies which encourage Pakistan to follow its perfidious policies against India without restraint and reciprocal punitive measures.

Concluding Observations

Finally one would like to emphasize that the Indian media’s coverage of India’s intra-state wars and particularly Proxy war should be devoid of politicization, devoid of “humanizing” the anti-national elements waging war against the Indian nation state and devoid of creating panic and fear by speculative reporting.. More importantly the Indian media should not fall prey to the disinformation strategies of the terrorist and insurgent groups and nor should the Indian media emerge as the mouthpiece of India’s “bleeding hearts” who only have a one-point agenda without regard to national security sensitivities.

The latter impression of the Indian media prevails amongst the security forces engaged in battling India’s internal security threats and that too in an agonizing manner. Such thoughts and perceptions are best captured in the agonizing eloquence of a police officer, Abhinav Kumar, SSP Dehradun, in the latest issue of OUTLOOK weekly October 26, 2009). In the ‘Cover Story Opinion page, without naming the media but implicit in the message, the senior police officer states:

· “How did the defense of a pluralist tolerant vision of India acquire moral equivalence with a rebellion based on a murderous ideology”

· “Our bleeding hearts forget all too easily that it is not the PUCL or the PUDR that really underpin our rights: instead it is the readiness of the men in green and khaki to die for the country that remains the ultimate guarantor of our national freedoms.”

· “Our civil society must give up this dangerous flirtation with the ideologies of hatred and murder and must give honest support to t those of us who are being asked to make the supreme sacrifice.”

The coverage of India’s intra-state conflicts and Proxy war by the Indian media should not be viewed as one more mundane professional activity but approached with a sense of purpose as a ‘national mission’ against those who threaten India’s internal security and nationhood.