<b>3 hard-drives stolen from Defence HQ</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->While South Block is silent on the theft, the IDS, which is the strategic think tank of the three armed forces, has filed the complaint. Apart from handling the Andamans and Nicobar Command, the Integrated Headquarters is tasked to prepare the net assessment of various strategic plans. The key staff of the IDS is housed in South Hutments, behind the Defence Ministry. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>National insecurity adviser</b>
Kanchan Gupta | New Delhi
Panic as Narayanan presses alarm button ---- Senior intelligence and security officials and counter-terrorism operatives are aghast at National Security Adviser MK Narayanan's shocking public disclosure that <b>"there is some information that one of our atomic installations is under threat. It is a LeT operation."Â </b>
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Narayanan, even while admitting <b>"I may be excommunicated after making this public", asked how serious is the threat to India's nuclear installations, said, "Of course, it is a very serious threat."</b>
The disclosure has triggered a tsunami, with waves of furious response swamping the portals of the national security establishment. Former intelligence chiefs, including of IB and RAW, as well as those who have handled the affairs of the National Security Council, are equally enraged.
<b>"Narayanan has painted a frightful scenario with apocalyptic consequences resulting from a fidayeen strike on one or more nuclear plant. When the NSA says something so disturbing, then it must be taken seriously," said a senior security official, adding, "But should he be saying it? Even if what he is saying is true, does this information belong in the public domain?"[/B]
If Narayanan, who is the custodian of intelligence inputs and advises the Prime Minister on national security as well as strategic affairs, is to be taken seriously, then security arrangements at India's nuclear plants are inadequate, making them vulnerable to jihadi strikes. This is the first such official admission, emanating from the highest level of Government.
[B]"Safeguards both within and outside our nuclear establishments, including research facilities where we do not deal with fissile material or handle it in minimal quantities, are excellent and impossible to breach. This fact is acknowledged even by critics of India's nuclear programme,"</b> said a senior scientist.
A former top national security official, accusing Narayanan of "wilfully spreading panic", said, "Ever since the media began to criticise him for the Government's failure to check jihadi strikes, more so after the Mumbai bombings of July 11, he has been responding with outrageous statements in the hope they will shore up his image... He doesn't realise the enormous harm he is causing to national security and he has demonstrated that he cannot act with discretion while handling sensitive information".
Narayanan's disclosure comes at a time when the India-US civil nuclear cooperation Bill is struggling its way up the Hill in Washington, DC. Deal-busters in the Congress can be expected to seize upon his statement and point out that the US should supply neither technology nor fuel to India if its nuclear establishments are so vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
This is the second time in recent days that Mr Narayanan has sought to create alarm and fear among the people with the help of 24x7 news channels. On July 21, Times Now carried a story of how <b>he has written to Chief Ministers, informing them about "two LeT cadre having joined the Indian Air Force".</b>
Along with the letter, he forwarded a top secret 40-page document prepared by the National Security Council Secretariat on "activities of jihadi groups within and outside India". The IAF, after combing its personnel, has refuted the claim, but niggling doubts remain within and outside the defence forces.
<b>"By sending the report to State Governments which leak like a sieve, the National Security Adviser has ensured that all and sundry get to know of the weak chinks in the defence forces,"</b> said the former top national security official.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>What ails our intelligence? </b>
Every time there is a major terrorist strike, the imprint of Pakistan comes out glaringly. Islamabad, on the contrary, accuses our intelligence agencies of having inspired and perpetrated serious incidents not only in India but also Pakistan.
<b>Washington DC-based Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a privately funded non-profit policy organisation, whose board of sponsors includes half of America's living Nobel laureates, brushes aside such charges as frivolous. It would be unusual for an intelligence agency to mastermind an operation that had the potential of endangering its own country's citizens, it reasoned. If something did go wrong, it would have been an awfully big disaster. </b>
<b>The FAS reveals that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has become a state within a state, answerable neither to the Army, nor the Government. The result is there has been no real supervision of the ISI. Drug money was used by it to finance not only the Afghanistan war, but also the proxy war against India. It reportedly supplies weapons, besides giving training to terrorists in Kashmir and the North-East.</b>
Are we equipped to deal with the challenge posed by Pakistan? The problem is highlighted by 7/11 serial blasts in Mumbai, which left 200 people dead. Regardless of Pakistan may say, we need to introspect and examine whether our own house is in order. Are our intelligence agencies and Government displaying enough vigilance to prevent the leakage of intelligence? How is it that, in spite of a large number of agencies, terrorists are able to strike at will?
One Union Minister in the previous Government had told a gathering of intelligence officials that the Kargil conflict was a result of the "failure to converge the information into actionable intelligence which led to the subserving of national security."
Have we learnt from our past mistakes? While talking to a police officer, I asked him what was wrong with the intelligence. He said that, with the creation of a plethora of Intelligence agencies, things had gone from bad to worse. Most intelligence officials sit in police stations and send reports based on the information collected by the police. The officer further added that the police station is the key point for interaction with the public and informants.
In our desire to collect more and more security related information, we have not only diluted the responsibility of the local officers in charge of the police stations, but also removed them from the responsibility of gathering intelligence. Apart from the central intelligence agencies, each State has its own intelligence set up. Also, each central paramilitary and defence force has its own system of intelligence gathering, including the Defence Intelligence Agency.
It is the reports collected and collated from different levels and sources that go into the formulation of the national policy on terrorism. Despite everybody trying his luck at collecting intelligence, we do not have an effective management system of intelligence.
Intelligence coordination should be at the heart of intelligence management, which includes gathering and analysis. As each department is an empire unto itself, we do not have clearly earmarked turf and every agency is stepping on the toes of others for inputs to impress their respective bosses. Intelligence relating to national security is provided not only by the IB and RAW, but also military intelligence, BSF, the Customs, Enforcement Directorate, and State police. In a midnight meeting during the VP Singh regime, then Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed remarked that the intelligence agencies were more keen to inform him as to what was likely to happen, instead of passing on the actionable intelligence to the ground level.
<b>The ideal arrangement would be to have all agencies assemble their information at one point, so that a complete picture is available to the decision-makers. It is best to do so at the district level, whether they are Central or State agencies</b>. Theoretically, the Joint Intelligence Committee and the National Security Council report to the National Security Adviser. But in practice, each agency works independently. The collection, collation and analysis of information are done by each intelligence agency in a veritable vacuum.
Over the years, political parties have misused intelligence and investigating organisations. <b>It is an open secret that governments in power misuse the agencies to bring about changes in political compositions, besides indulging in toppling games and spying on worthwhile individuals</b>. In fact, Rajiv Gandhi had openly accused the Government in 1991 of keeping him under watch. This allegation was repeated in 1996 and 1997 by the then Congress president against the United Front Government.
The bureaucracy, police and intelligence agencies weigh as to what should be reported and what should be watered down. They want to make certain that their bread is buttered on both sides. No wonder they present reports in such a way that they convey only what the bosses would like to hear or believe. This approach proves their loyalty not only to their bosses, but also to ideology. Such stance not only helps them in service, but also after retirement. This fact can be confirmed from the number of Ambassadors, Chairmen of Government Tribunals, Commissions and even Governors chosen from the rank of civil service.
When I was Superintendent of Police, a senior officer told me that the best approach is to guard from all sides and then take action. I told him that he was entitled to his approach and style of working, but putting the facts as they are and not as bosses want would be disloyalty to the nation. He said that sometimes telling the truth could harm one's interest.
We must not only be careful from external enemies, but also from the moles within. Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has said that there was a mole in Prime Minister Narasimha Rao's office. Besides streamlining external and internal intelligence set up, we must make sure that the country does not leak like a sieve, whether it is about defence or the officials of intelligence agencies deserting their jobs and seeking shelter abroad.
The political executive needs to take more interest in the intelligence and security matters, instead of leaving everything on god and bureaucracy. It was Albert Einstein who once said that<b> the world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing</b>.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Jihad's new targets </b>
The Pioneer Edit Desk
PM's silence is intriguing ---- Key aides of the Prime Minister are expected to be discrete and maintain a low profile. Not so National Security Adviser MK Narayanan who appears to be increasingly unmindful about the imprudence and impropriety of making public statements that convey the impression that India is a nation under jihadi siege with an indolent Government failing to rise to the occasion. On the face of it, Mr Narayanan's disclosure, made in the course of an interview to a 24x7 news channel, that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba has prepared an impressive hit-list of targets in India, including at least one nuclear plant, is an alarming admission by Government of the frightening scenario that we face as a nation. It would be facetious to dismiss the National Security Adviser's comments as either incorrect or exaggeration; after all, he is the repository of various intelligence inputs and presides over the national security establishment. If there were any doubts about his assertion, those have been removed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee who informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that the LeT is planning to carry out some strikes on critical infrastructure, military targets and religious places. This provides cause for concern; but, and more important, it also highlights a fact that the Congress and the UPA Government have so far steadfastly refused to admit: Jihadis have cranked up the ferocity of their attack on India. Of course, spectacular terror attacks over the past two years show that such denial need not be taken seriously, although it is amusing to note that even while the National Security Adviser and the Defence Minister were painting a grim scenario of a nuclear meltdown caused by a terror attack, the Minister of State for Home was furiously denying the possibility. Given the official admission, albeit late in the day, that for all its pandering to Islamists of various hues both at home and abroad and genuflecting at the altars of Hamas and Hizbullah, the 'secular' regime headed by the Congress has singularly failed in convincing jihadis to look elsewhere to promote their blood-soaked ideology. If India faced a threat from Islamist terrorism in the recent past, it now faces a serious, debilitating threat from jihad's army of fanatic killers.
It is anybody's guess as to how well prepared the Government and its agencies are to pre-empt a terrorist attack with disastrous consequences. If the Mumbai bombings of July 11 are any indication, all of India is vulnerable, notwithstanding Mr Mukherjee's assurance that "necessary steps are being taken to protect our vital installations and other high profile targets." It is surprising that the Prime Minister has chosen to maintain silence on his National Security Adviser's shocking disclosure, fielding Mr Mukherjee to answer questions raised by the Opposition. Is it because Mr Singh does not attach much importance to the information on the basis of which Mr Narayanan has made his dire prediction, backed by Mr Mukherjee's statement in Parliament? Or is it that like many other matters of state, the Prime Minister is uninformed about something so crucial? The nation deserves an answer because the lives of citizens are potentially imperilled. By electing not to speak when he was expected to, Mr Singh has let it be known that he doesn't care about the security of India and its more than a billion people.
Security what security?
Look whoâs misusing beacons
According to Mumbai Mirror a campaign against unauthorised use of red and yellow beacons on vehicles has thrown up names of two judges, one of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, and some private airlines.
Among the organisations slapped with a fine are Air India, Airports Authority of India, Kingfisher Airlines and Akbar Travels of India (one vehicle each), and Jet Airways (five vehicles).
Some of the prominents members of the list are:
3. Five vehicles of Jet Airways â one fined Rs 600, action against others not speicified
4. Vehicle no BLF- 4027 â Gulf Air â action not specified
5. Vehicle no MH 02/WA 2147 â Kingfisher Airlines â action not specified
6. Vehicle no MH 02/Y 7306 â Air India â fine: Rs 200.
18. Vehicle no MH 01/V 7568 â Saudi Arabian Airlines, Mumbai â Fine: Rs 100
The fines of misuse of beacons are hilarious, 100 - 700 rupees. No wonder people are not afraid to use it. The above could be just a tip of the iceberg.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Lashkar is India's Al Qaeda</b>
Counter-terrorism operations through appropriate covert action should be taken to stop LeT from killing innocent civilians and bleeding India ---- Less than a month ago, Pakistan supported terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) carried out synchronised attacks in Mumbai, killing 201 and maiming hundreds more. It was the most brazen and devastating assault since the one on Parliament on December 13, 2001, and led the establishment, and even a taciturn Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to denounce it in strong terms. It was also aimed to act as a disclaimer to the growing public perception that the Government was incapable of reacting strongly.
Five immediate conclusions can be drawn from the attack. First, India is high on the list of terrorist groups. Second, most of these groups are based in Pakistan and enjoy financial support of charity and religious organisations in Kuwait, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Third, groups like LeT have managed to get a toe-hold in the mindscape of a small section of Muslims incensed by events like Babri Masjid's demolition and the Gujarat riots. Fourth, these groups are transnational. Fifth, Indian state's response has been grossly inept, belying its claims of emerging as a global power.
Therefore, we need to look at how terrorist groups like LeT have grown in the past two years, in the shadow of the US led global war on terrorism and the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. It would be fatally naive to under estimate the strength and scope of LeT. It would be equally foolhardy to point fingers at Al Qaeda, an anonymous conglomeration of terrorist elements with different objectives and motivations, for attacks like the Mumbai blasts. It would be more appropriate to understand that LeT is India's Al Qaeda, a network of terrorist groups and individuals, in Pakistan, West Asia, Bangladesh, Nepal and inside India.
India must understand that LeT is a highly ambitious organisation of Sunni (Ahle Hadis) extremist ideology, generously funded by powerful Islamist forces and the Pakistan military. The US is certainly not concerned about the growth of Lashkar till another attack takes place on its soil. India must not wait for the State Department's action. It has already banned the group and locked away the files.
LeT is one of the better-known charity organisations in Pakistan with more than 2,200 offices. It has also attracted generous contributions from the Pakistani diaspora in UK, Europe and US besides religious organisations in Riyadh, Kuwait and Dubai. Today, it runs one of the biggest chain of schools (140 on the last count) and colleges, including engineering, and madarsas (29) in several parts of Pakistan. It brings out magazines, including those for children, called Nanha Mujahid, and women, apart from an Urdu weekly and an English monthly. It also runs two websites. The group has expanded its base in PoK and Sindh, besides its original home, Punjab. In Lahore, for instance, where it has its headquarters, the group recently constructed a new mosque in Markaz Qadsiya (cost: Rs 4.6 crore), and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed leads prayers every Friday.
Lashkar's relief, rescue and rehabilitation activities during the October 2005 earthquake in PoK won it public acclaim from Gen Musharraf's regime. Two Ministers visited LeT camps and praised the relief work.
Besides the schools where young students are taught that "jihad is tourism", LeT's expansion into civil society is pointer to its political ambitions, a la Hamas. A recent advertisement in their jihadi weekly is revealing. It states, "On the orders of the honourable Amir of Jamat-ud Dawa, Professor Hafiz Saeed, we have appointed four judges who would work under the supervision of Markaz-e-Darul Qaza al Sharai Jamat-ud Dawa, Pakistan. The Markaz is at Al Qadsia Mosque, Lahore. All the Muslims are urged to resort to the following courts for speedy justice: Jamia Mosque Quba, Islamabad, Markaz Umm-ul Qura, Gujranwala, Jamia mosque Namra, Faislabad and Jamia mosque Sheikh-ul Islam, Multan." In essence, the group is now setting up parallel courts in these towns.
The reason for documenting Lashkar's activities is to point out that it is not a terrorist group that operates out of tents as many of our policy makers seem to think. This misconceived notion has spawned a legion of enthusiasts who waste no time in advocating bombing LeT missions in Pakistan, like the Israelis. Thanks to India's consistent obfuscation in dealing with acts of terror, LeT has metamorphed from a band of mercenaries carrying out sporadic attacks in Kashmir into a network which has expanded across India and beyond.
This is a threat which we can ignore only at our peril. Our opinion makers singing 'Give peace a chance' should realise the immense potential of groups like LeT . By attacking select targets like Ayodhya, Akshardham and trains, LeT has shown its capability. We must get out of this perverse argument that, by taking a stand, we are playing into the hands of terrorism. It is the other way around. If we don't stop groups like LeT, there will be no peace to talk about.
National security through redefinition
Tuesday, August 01, 2006 at 0000 hrs
``This has not happened in six months' time. In 2001, it was 131 districts; in 2003, it had gone up to 143, and in 2004, this number had gone up to 157. I would say that the number has gone up, but it has not gone up only in six months time; it has gone up in three years' time. That has to be borne in mind.''
That was Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister, speaking in the Rajya Sabha in November 2004.
I had cited figures from official sources about the spread of Naxalite violence. Could it be any consolation that the sway of these violent groups had been spreading for a longer period than just six months? Quite the contrary: every year, year after year, the reach and lethality of Naxalites had continued to spread, showing that the rot in governance had continued to increase without let.
The situation continued to worsen. By October 2005, open sources were reporting that the number of districts affected by Naxalite violence and activity had risen to 165. The Rajya Sabha debated the matter again, in November 2005. Shivraj Patil improved on the reasoning. Though the figures I was citing are published by the Home Ministry itself, he said that such figures give a misleading impression. If one village in a district is affected, the whole district is counted as being affected, he said. Hence, the figures gave an impression of large stretches of the country being in the grip of extremist violence when that is not the case.
Why not disaggregate further, I had to inquire. After all, when the terrorists attack, they do not decimate the entire village. They kill just a handful from the village. They burn down just a few houses. Why not publish figures by household? And divide the number of households that have been attacked by the total number of households in the region, and thereby do even more to keep people's morale up? Better still, why not disaggregate and count the number of individuals who have been killed, and divide that number by the total population of the region or the country? Wouldn't we feel even safer?
But the Home Minister is the Home Minister. His reasoning has prevailed. Faced with more lethal attacks over a wider area, his Ministry has just stopped giving figures of the total number of districts that are affected by Naxalite operations and activity. It now gives figures only of districts "badly affected" by Naxalite violence. This comes to 76 districts. Isn't that reassuring? National security through redefinition!
A truer index of the extent to which this virus is spreading is the fact that, after all, the Home Ministry had been using the same criteria for decades. On that basis, in the early 1990s, 16 districts were affected. In 2003, 56 districts were listed as affected. In October 2005, the number had risen, as I said, to 165. Since then, the situation has become much, much worse.
That Naxalites are actually carrying out violent attacks on police stations, that they are actually executing people is not the index of their sway. Violence comes at a much later stage of their operations; in almost every case, years later. In an interview with The Telegraph (July 15, 2005), a member of the Maoist Central Committee, "Comrade Dhruba", is reported as saying that, apart from Bankura, Purulia and Midnapur districts, "our mass base in Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia is ready." He adds, and this is what has a bearing on the Home Minister's way of measuring, "After five years, we will launch our strikes."
By the time violence is unleashed, the Naxalites have entrenched themselves firmly in the area. They commence with surveys â a 56-page survey that was recently recovered of "Perspective Areas" in a targeted state is so proficiently done that it would put some of our best institutions to shame: pattern of holdings; crops; problems of each crop; issues relating to wages and tenure; caste composition and tensions. Then front organisations are formed to instigate people on these issues. Experts instigate the demonstrations into violence. Reprisals fuel polarisation. Sympathisers and agents are steered into "voluntary organisations", local bodies, cooperatives. Only after years of such capture and consolidation are dalams and the like formed. Violence is unleashed thereafter.
By that time, the situation has gone so far beyond the reach of the State apparatus that it can only do what the Home Minister is doing now.
THE PROPER CRITERIA
The criterion, therefore, is not whether violence has actually been unleashed, nor whether the level of violence has become embarrassingly "bad". That entire area must be taken to be affected by terrorist activity in which that group â say, Naxalites â is able to prevent officials of the State from carrying out their primary functions: of governance, of dispensing justice, of executing development works. The relevant questions to ask, therefore, are:
â¢ Do the people of the area look to the police for protection from the Naxalites, or are they now conducting themselves in such a way that the Naxalites would spare them?
â¢ Have the contractors of the area to pay Naxalites a cut for the works they execute - say, on construction involved in "development projects"?
â¢ Who is dispensing "justice" in the area? The regular courts, or the Naxalites' mobile courts?
â¢ Are the government officials themselves not paying protection money to the Naxalites?
And remember, there are many types of insurgencies that are afoot in different parts of the country. The tests apply to the NSCN(IM) in Nagaland, to the score or so groups in Manipur, to the terrorists in Kashmir, as much as they apply to Naxalites.
THE COMPREHENSIVE MECHANISM
Replying to the debate in November, 2005, the Home Minister had gone further in providing comfort. He had taken the House into confidence, and, going by the way he spoke, he had shared a deep secret of the State. The passage is worth reading in full. Shivraj Patil told the Rajya Sabha that, in fact, a comprehensive mechanism is already in place to tackle challenges to internal security. ``This mechanism is already there'', he said. ``Probably, it is not known to the Hon. Members because it is an internal matter that we are doing.'' He shared this State Secret, the information about this ``mechanism'':
``We have a Special Security Secretary here. The responsibility given to the Special Security Secretary is to talk to the DIGs and other officers in the Naxalite-affected states every month or two months or whenever it is necessary, and decide as to what has to be done... Then there is a committee which is presided over by the Home Secretary, who talks to the Chief Secretaries of the states and DIGs of the states and they decide as to how the policy should be evolved to deal with the Naxalite activity or the terrorist activities in J&K or the North Eastern states. And, then, there are regional committees of the Home Minister and the Chief Ministers who meet periodically to decide about the policies. And, then, the Chief Ministers have been talking to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister every now and then, whenever they want. There is coordination. There is institution for coordination. You don't think that we are not talking.''
So there is a mechanism. There is committee upon committee. There are meetings after meetings. All concerned are talking. The result is before you â in the increasingly lethal depredations wreaked by Naxalites â by now in 14 states; they must have been visible in the trains in Mumbai.
100 PER CENT IMPLEMENTATION
In his statement on the Mumbai train blasts too, the Home Minister gave a long list of meetings that had been held in the wake of the blasts. The last time, there had been more. I had cited recommendations that had been made by the Task Forces on Border Management and Internal Security â two among four set up after the Kargil War. I had shown in detail how little had been done in regard to them.
The first reaction of the Congress Party and its props was, ''Which reports? Where are the reports? Is he prepared to authenticate them?'' As I had carried both the voluminous reports with me, I lifted them, and said I would authenticate them there and then. The attack shifted, ''These are secret reports, how is he citing them?'' Then, ''But what did your Government do for three years?''
Uncharacteristically, the Leader of the Opposition, Jaswant Singh got provoked enough to state, ''As a matter of personal knowledge, I do wish to say that I had the distinction and honour of simultaneously holding the portfolio of Defence at that time and I can state to the House that about 95 per cent of the recommendations of the Subramaniam Committee report and the Task Force on the Armed Forces were implemented.''
He had, as is usual with him, been careful in his choice of words. He had referred only to the recommendations of the main report of the Subramaniam Committee and the Task Force on the Armed Forces â not to the Task Forces on Border Management and on Internal Security, whose findings and recommendations I had been reading out. But that was enough. The Home Minister built on what Jaswant Singh had said:
''Sir'', Shivraj Patil said, ''The points which were raised by Mr Shourie have been replied now by the Leader of the Opposition sitting over there. And, I can assure the House that the recommendations which have not been implemented are in the process of being implemented.'' The Home Minister returned to this later in his response, and remarked, ''I am very happy to point out that when this point was made by Mr. Arun Shourie, the Leader of the Opposition was here in the House and he did get up and say that nearly 95 per cent of the recommendations of the Group of Ministers have been acted upon, have been implemented and I had no difficulty in getting up and saying that even 5 per cent recommendations which remained unimplemented, would certainly be implemented by the Government because they are good recommendations and we have no difficulty in implementing them.''
One hundred per cent of the recommendations having been implemented â for we must assume that, months having passed, even those remaining 5 per cent have been implemented â the results should not surprise us! On 21 February, 2006, the Minister of State for Home told Parliament that in 2004, 653 had been killed in Naxalite-related violence. In 2005, 892 were killed. Going by open source compilations, in 2006, up to 23 July, already 550 have been killed.
But, as I mentioned, that is not even a partial index of the state of affairs. Captured documents indicate that Naxalites have already put in place ''Regional Bureaus'' for two-thirds of the country: including one for Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and UP â and, a high authority on Left-wing violence tells me, the person who has been identified as heading this ''Bureau'' is one of the very best organisers among them. Further, barring the Northeast, J&K, Himachal and Rajasthan, ''State Committees'' are by now in place for every other state, ''Special Area Committees'' have been instituted for UP-Uttaranchal, Bihar-Jharkhand, and Bengal.
An ''Urban Perspective Document'' sets out detailed strategy for extending operations into and unsettling urban areas. Governance is weakening in many cities even now, it notes. And this weakening can only accelerate: urban population is expected to increase from 285 million to 540 million by 2020. A fertile field.
The point is that each such terrorist movement is proceeding systematically. Its programmes cover every aspect: land, caste-tensions, ''courts'', targets for raising finances, recruitment, training, capture and production of arms, calibrated unleashing of violence. And on our side?
The Home Minister's ''comprehensive mechanism''. His ''100% implementation''. His redefinitions of the area that is affected.
And yet, the inattention to Left-wing violence is not the worst of them problems.
<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Third-class governance canât give first-class response to terrorism</span>
By the end of 2003, we were being told that our agencies had neutralised over 160 ISI modules â counting only those outside Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. Since then, up to July 11, 2006, again counting only those outside Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, another 75 modules are reported to have been neutralized.
These are substantial achievements â we can imagine how many more deaths and how much more dislocation would have been caused if these had not been got at and the persons caught or killed. But the figures have another side to them.
First, that there were that many cells to be neutralized shows that ISI had been able to set them up. Second, the cells that have been unearthed were found to exist across the entire country.
Going by the tabulation of the cells that have been located and finished just since January 2004, we see them having been found in state after state, town after town. In Andhra: Hyderabad (several), including one at the Begumpet airport, Nalgonda; in Karnataka: Alamati, Hesaraghatta on the outskirts of Bangalore, Jelenabad area in Gulbarga district; Delhi (several separate ones in several localities across the city); in Bengal and neighbouring regions: Ghosepur, Darjeeling district, Rishra, Hooghly district, Chowgacha village, Nadia district, Kaliachak, Malda, Kolkata; in Uttaranchal: Dehra Dun; in Maharashtra: Mumbai, Aurangabad, Manmad, Malegaon; in Rajasthan: Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur; in Punjab, where a serious effort is being made to stoke up Sikh militancy: Jalandhar, Amritsar, Nawanshehar, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Batala, Malerkotla; in UP: NOIDA, Lucknow, Hardoi, Lalkurti; Goa; in MP: Gwalior; Faridabad; in Gujarat: Ahmedabad; and so on.
The list of these 75 modules apart, just look at the far-flung places from which suspects of the July train blasts in Mumbai are being picked up â that itself shows the long reach of the ISI and its terrorist limbs within India, of the faraway places at which they have been able to set up sanctuaries.
Finally, that the blasts and other terrorist operations have continued unabated shows that the cells which have been located are but a fraction of the ones that have been set up. Several factors have afforded such easy access for the ISI. The principal one is the near collapse of law enforcement â from intelligence to investigation to combat to the courts.
As is well said, you cannot have a first class response to terrorism in a third class system of governance. Why should anyone be deterred from executing another round of blasts in Mumbai trains when he sees that those caught for the blasts executed 13 years ago are well and kicking; when he sees that their lawyers have been able, and with such ease, to ensnare Government prosecutors in the courts?
But the evaporation of governance and of the law-enforcement mechanisms is just one aspect, indeed it is in large part a consequence of complicity. In particular, of the perversion of pubic discourse â by which every action against terrorists, their sponsors and their collaborators is called into question and the national resolve dissipated; second, by the ever-strengthening nexus of rulers and criminal elements. And by the permissive atmosphere that has been fomented by these factors.
Which terrorist group, which potential recruit to terrorism will be deterred when he sees the solicitude with which the prime suspect of the blasts in Coimbatore, Abdul Nasser Mahdani, is being looked after? When he sees, as The Indian Express has reported (July 24-25, 2006) the comforts that the DMK Government has arranged for him, including Ayurvedic massages â with 10 masseurs and a senior physician labouring over him; and that too at the tax-payersâ expense? When he sees that even the elementary restrictions on Mahdaniâs moving about in the prison have been cancelled in the face of opposition from security services?
When he sees that the representatives of the CPI(M) come calling on him in jail to seek his help in fighting elections? When he sees the Kerala Assembly pass a unanimous resolution on his behalf â and sees that that Assembly has not passed any comparable resolution for any other individual?
When he sees how doggedly the Government of Karnataka holds up the investigation into Telgiâs doings? When he sees a Chief Minister defend SIMI, an organization that has been banned for secessionist and anti-national activities? When he sees what happens in our Parliament â how members shout each other down and cannot speak in one voice even while discussing the blasts in Mumbai? When he sees how, even after the Supreme Court has struck down the IMDT Act as unconstitutional and as a threat to national security, the Government, the principal party of which depends on votes of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, incorporates those very provisions in the Foreignersâ Act? Who would not feel emboldened to sign up for the greater glory of jihad and shahadat?
THE FATAL CONCESSION
Nor is it just the terrorist module that is encouraged. The organisers and controllers of these modules are given a free hand. In the statement that Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf issued on 6 January, 2004, the words that Pakistan was made to agree to were very, very carefully chosen. There was great resistance from Pakistan. But, in the end, it had to agree to those words. By that declaration, Pakistan was made to commit that for sustaining the dialogue it would stop cross-border violence, and ensure that no part of the territory under its control â that is, including PoK â shall be used for terrorism.
By contrast, in the statement that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed with General Musharraf in April 2005, India agreed that to ensure that terrorism will not be allowed to thwart the ââpeace processââ. This was a fatal concession â for by it Pakistan was in effect enabled to continue terrorist activities at will. The onus would henceforth be on India to continue the ââpeace processââ and the ââdialogueââ in spite of the terrorist attacks.
The result has been dramatically brought home in the wake of the Mumbai train blasts. The Prime Ministerâs address to the nation was anaemic. Perhaps that registered even in the Government. The second statement had a hue of firmness. And with much background briefing â ââwe wonât put up with this nonsense foreverââ â the Foreign Secretariesâ meeting was called off.
And then? The Prime Minister goes to Moscow. Meets Bush. And suddenly, the official line becomes, ââWe wonât let the terrorists succeed in their design to halt the peace processââ!
So, Pakistan can pursue both limbs â talk peace, wage war! And all we can do is to go through the ritual again.
Blasts in Mumbai. Blasts in Srinagar. Another debate in Parliament. Another slew of statements â ââWe resolutely/ strongly/unequivocally condemn this dastardly/ cowardly/treacherous/barbaric act... It shows their desperation... Government remains committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms... We will not allow them to disturb communal harmonyâ¦ We will not allow them to derail the peace process...ââ
The Home Minister repeated all the standard phrases in his statement to Parliament last week. He also implied that his ministry had done its job. ââThe Central Government has been sensitising the state governments/UTs about the plans and designs of terrorist outfits. They were asked to streamline physical and protective security of vital institutions...ââ
And the Government is on the job even now, he assured. âThe Government has made an assessment of the situation following these blasts,â he told Parliament. And what did the assessment yield? âThe security apparatus has to focus greater attention and improve intelligence-gathering capabilities particularly at the local level to collect actionable intelligence... There is also a need to further enhance physical security and access control at airports, metros, vital installations... besides accelerated border fencing, overall coastal security... State Governments have been asked to improve coordination between the Railway Police Force and the Government Railway Police to enhance security of trains and railway stations...ââ
Should he not have said, âThe Government has made yet another assessment of the situation following these blastsâ? And did we really need yet another âassessment of the situationâ? After all, what is new in this list? And what happened to that claim of 100 per cent of the recommendations of those Task Forces having been implemented?
But while we keep repeating, âTerrorists will not be allowed to succeed,â the fact is that through them Pakistan has already succeeded in several respects:
â¢ It has succeeded in creating the impression â I dare say, in India too â that the status of Kashmir vis a vis India is not a settled issue. Indeed, that what will happen in the future, what some Government of India will do is an open question. When it is asked in Parliament, âDoes the Government stand by the unanimous Resolution which Parliament had passed, namely that the only unfinished business relating to J&K is that we have to get back the parts of the state that Pakistan has usurped?,â the Government remains silent.
â¢ Pakistan has succeeded in establishing that it shall have an equal say in what the final solution shall be.
â¢ It has succeeded in establishing that the secessionists it has been patronising, arming, financing are the representatives of the Kashmiris, and so they are the ones to whom the Indian authorities must talk.
â¢ And the Indian authorities must talk to them without the secessionists agreeing to anything in advance â in the Rajya Sabha, on July 26, the Home Minister was specifically asked by Yashwant Sinha, âHas Hurriyat agreed to give up violence?â; all he could claim was that they are giving the impression that they are willing to do so! As for their avowed goal of taking Kashmir out of India, they are not even giving any impression that they have diluted that goal one whit.
â¢ Pakistan and its local agents have already accomplished the âethnic cleansingâ of the Valley, having driven the Hindus out. They are now systematically driving them out of Doda.
Equally ominous is the fact that, while India has always maintained that issues between Pakistan and India shall be dealt with bilaterally, that we will not agree to any third party mediation, now the US is the very visible third party in everything. Recall the change in the Prime Ministerâs tenor after he met Bush in Moscow.
Moreover, the initiative has by now passed completely into the hands of Musharraf. He is the one who is forever proposing formulae, and we are put to reacting. Worse, he has succeeded in bringing the various political groups in Kashmir to talking his language. Omar Abdullah, the PDP leaders as well as the Mirwaiz are now lauding Musharrafâs formulations, and proclaiming that these â âSelf Rule,â division into Regions â are the ones that show the way forward.
FUNDAMENTALISATION OF DISCOURSE
It is because our media is so preoccupied with the âcontroversyâ of the day, it is because it is so preoccupied with âlife-styleâ journalism, it is because there is the censorship of âpolitical correctnessâ that we do not realise how fundamentalist the discourse has become in Kashmir. We keep repeating nonsense about the great tolerant traditions of Kashmir, about the âSufi Islamâ of Kashmir, about the unique catholicity of âKashmiriatâ, about the incomparable blend of Shaivism and âliberal Islamâ in Kashmir.
In fact, the very persons who are âpeople like usâ are now taking positions that cannot but shock every Indian, and cannot but wreak a terrible outcome. Hari Parbat is sacred to every Kashmiri Hindu: how do you feel when Hindu refugees hear it being referred to in speeches and publications as Kohi Maaran â the hill of evil? Can you imagine a person who has held high office in the state telling Kashmiris that hey must learn from Hamas? Can you imagine his leading associate denouncing the Amarnath yatra as âa cultural intrusionâ? Can you imagine a situation, when persons holding a peaceful observance against the massacres in Doda are killed, the Chief Minister proclaims in effect that the protestors invited the deaths upon themselves? Can you imagine a person who was till the other day Chief Minister telling the second âRound Table Conferenceâ that we must accept âOne country, two systemsâ? Can you imagine a leading political light of the Valley tell the same conference that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly was a âsovereign bodyâ, that Article 370 was a âtreaty between two sovereign bodiesâ?
How do you feel as you see the glee with which a Pakistani website reports a mainstream, ânationalistâ Kashmiri politician proclaim that New Delhi âis responsible for the volatile situation in Kashmir, where its troops are killing Kashmiris unjustifiably and forcing them to take up armsâ? How do you feel when you read him demanding to know, âWhy is India killing innocents?,â and declaring, âBy these evil designs, India forces our youth to take the gun and sacrifice their livesâ? When he declares that the Indian Army has been given âa free hand to kill innocent peopleâ? When you see that his charge against his political rivals, that is the current Government in the state, is that it is âin league with the occupation authorities to run a campaign of terror against Kashmirisâ?
Such rhetoric is the staple today. And the results are brought home every other day. When a Lashkar man is killed these days, four to five thousand turn up for an ostentatious demonstration in his honour. The counter-insurgency groups which had been built up with such great effort have all been abandoned by Delhi. The killings by the terrorist bands become more and more brutal by the week â corpses are left with their heads hacked off, people are sent back to their homes with their limbs and parts sawn off... New technologies are introduced â car bombs; grenades â the man who throws it is paid when he produces the pin...
Has Pakistan not succeeded? Has its instrument, terrorism, not succeeded? And our Government applies itself to organizing yet another âassessment of the situation.â Actually, it does more. It is only by a hairâs breadth, it is only at the very last minute that the decision that had been taken â namely, to agree in the Indo-Pak meeting of May 21, 2006 to withdraw troops from Siachin â was abandoned.
The terrorist infrastructure remains intact in Pakistan, and securely in the hands of ISI and the Army. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and other such groups have been allowed a free field to operate in POK after the earthquake â to organise relief, to open âeducational institutionsâ. A better opportunity to pick up recruits for jihad and shahadat could not have been provided. Musharraf remains set in his singular aim.
The first thing that is required for standing up to what is in store can be put in the words that were used by a high-up in the present Government itself:
â¢ The PM and others must see that this Government does not have the mandate to make any fundamental changes in our foreign policy, certainly not in our defence policy; that it does not have the mandate to take decisions that will jeopardise our countryâs territory;
â¢ They must give up the delusion that problems that it has not been possible to solve in 55 years can be solved by âout-of-the-box thinkingâ in five weeks;
â¢ Individuals must give up the delusions of what has been rightly called âthe Gujranwala School of Foreign Policyâ â the delusion, namely, that while others have failed, I will succeed because I am manifestly more sincere, because I am from that part of the sub-continent.
Next, the Government must spell out what the ultimate solution is that it has in mind for Kashmir. It must share with the people and Parliament what is happening in talks around Round and other tables.
In the alternate, Parliament must insist that it be taken into confdence. Once the deed is done, it will be too late.
Parliament must also get Government to specify what it understands by âSelf Ruleâ; by âmaking borders irrelevantâ; by âautonomyâ - is âthe sky the limitâ still?; by the proposals that are being bandied about â joint management for power, tourism, horticulture...
Most important, it must rescind the fatal concession it made in the April 2005 statement â that we will continue the âpeace processâ irrespective of terrorism.
And a final plea â to the media: report in detail what the ânationalistâ, mainstream political leaders of J&K are saying in the Valley. Unless the country is alerted now, obituaries will be all that will be left to pen.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ansari admits to role in Delhi blasts
[ 30 Jul, 2006 0039hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
BASOPATTI (MADHUBANI): Kamal Ahmad Ansari, one of the two suspects arrested here for 7/11, has confessed to Mumbai ATS that he was involved in the May 22, 2005, blasts at Satyam and Liberty cinema halls in New Delhi in which one person was killed and 50 were hut, intelligence sources said.
The sources said Ansari, a Pak-trained explosives and arms expert, was in Delhi on that day. He reportedly masterminded the twin blasts and personally oversaw the entire operation, they added.
Ansari's disclosure will put a question mark on Delhi Police's claim that Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) was responsible for the blasts.
<b>DMK govt ordered six cases dropped against Muslim terrorist in TN</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->TIRUNELVELI, AUGUST 6:Barely two weeks after it was sworn in, Tamil Naduâs DMK government ordered that cases be dropped against 12 Muslim fundamentalists, all followers of Kichaan Buhari, an Al Umma sympathizer and key accused in the Coimbatore serial blasts.
Cases were registered against the 12 in 2000 and 2001 under IPC Sections 153 A (promoting enmity or hatred between different religious communities) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy).
<b>The six cases, relating to desecration of idols of Hindu deities in villages surrounding Melapalayam near Tirunelveli</b>, were at the trial stage in the district court when the GO (MS No. 431 dated May 27, 2006) was issued by the state <b>Home department, ordering the Tirunelveli district collector to drop the cases</b>.
The accused, initially detained under the National Security Act, had obtained bail. <b>Senior policemen in Tirunelveli are shocked by what they term the DMK governmentâs âblatant sympathyâ for the Muslim fundamentalists</b>.
âObviously, the accused committed the offence with the grave intention to create law and order problems and disrupt peace in Tirunelveli district, known to be communally sensitive. Also, all of them have links with Muslim fundamentalist outfits. The government should have allowed the law to take its natural course. <b>For a new government to resort to such a move is rather demoralising for the police force,â </b>said a senior police officer in Tirunelveli.
The other cases include Crime Nos. 377, 378, 379, 380 and 391 of 2000, all relating to desecration of idols of Hindu deities in villages surrounding Melapalayam. Rasool Mohammed and eight others had been booked under Sections 153 A and 120 B of the IPC in all these cases.
From the Letters section of today's Asian Age
<b>Muslims and Mumbai Probe</b>
Sir, The news item Mumbai: Probe Muslims who travel (August 8), claims that the government of Maharashtra has issued some directives to Mumbai police to check all Muslims travelling abroad. This is to clarify that the government of Maharashtra had not issued any such directives. No such checking of all Muslims is being done or is intended to be done by the police. It is also absolutely incorrect to say that thousands of Muslims have been arrested from different parts of the city in blast-related cases. Arrests made in connection with the recent serial bomb blasts in suburban trains on July 11, have been immediately conveyed through the media. So far, eight persons have been arrested in this connection and their names etc., have been given to the media immediately. Arrests were made by following the due process of law and all the arrested persons were produced before the magistrate and are in custody only under the orders of the magistrate. No particulars of arrests etc., and other information have been concealed by the police. In fact, the head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) investigating these cases has been personally addressing the media every alternate day and giving all relevant information. During the course of investigation, the investigation agency has been making enquiries with various persons regarding arrivals and departures to and from Mumbai by railway, air or some other means. All this is without any religious, caste or other bias. The police has not demanded from any person any document or proof from their employer regarding their travel. It is necessary to establish the identity of the persons who have travelled by that name. In a large and extensive investigation of this magnitude, where 186 persons have died and more than 800 have been injured, extensive investigations are definitely justified. However, the investigation process does not have any bias of any kind. People of all religious, ethnic or any other background have been checked, verified or interrogated as per the requirements of the investigation from time to time. The news item seeks to create a totally erroneous impression by showing the investigation to be communally biased. The news item is likely to spread disharmony and ill-will between the communities and create communal tension, which is totally uncalled for. I have been wrongly quoted as having informed about large numbers of arrests and of not giving the exact figures when questioned by the journalist. No journalist of The Asian Age has met me in this regard nor have I made any statement to the media in this context. The chief of the ATS has been giving information about arrests etc., from time to time.
A.N. Roy, Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, Maharashtra
<b>Seema Mustafa replies:</b>
I am not surprised by Commissioner of Police A.N. Royâs response, as nothing more could have been expected from him. I note that he has pointed out that no such directive has been issued by the government of Maharashtra. Although he knows as well as I do that it has been, I will take him at his word and then ask why he has not taken action against the police officers who have been visiting the homes of Muslims travelling abroad and interrogating them. Mr Roy is either not speaking the truth, or has little control over the police force under him, as police officials have been visiting homes, asking for copies of passport, details of travel and letters from the employers certifying this travel. He is totally wrong in denying this, and we have sufficient evidence to prove the police commissioner does not really know what he is saying. As for arrests, again Mr Roy is well aware that any number of Muslims have been detained by the police for questioning. For the first two days after the blasts, hundreds of innocent Muslims were rounded up, and while the pace has slackened, it has not stopped. We are as aware as Mr Roy about the terrible impact of the terror attack on innocent people in Mumbai. We, like every citizen, are more than willing to extend a helping hand to the police and the authorities in tracking down the terrorists and bringing them to quick justice. But the answer does not lie in targeting a single community, as the Maharashtra authorities have done and creating terror in response to terror. The quote attributed to Mr Roy was given by him to reporters who had spoken to him in Mumbai at the time. The quote was reported by the newspapers and the news agencies. Finally, I am surprised that the political authorities of Maharashtra, the chief minister and the deputy chief minister, have chosen to hide behind the police commissionerâs back.
From Today's Asian Age
Service chiefs subject to frisking 8/11/2006 10:57:41 PM
- By Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi, Aug. 11: The <b>Chiefs of Indiaâs Army, Air Force and Navy are not on the list of those exempted from pre-embarkation security checks</b> at civil airports in the country. This is a surprising omission considering that the<b> list of those exempted even has the name of Congress president Sonia Gandhiâs son-in-law Robert Vadra (when travelling with SPG protectees)</b>.
When asked about the absence of the names of the chiefs of the three services, civil aviation secretary Ajay Prasad said, "The list is prepared by the home ministry and not us (the civil aviation ministry)." However, he confirmed that those persons who do not figure in the list are "not exempted" from pre-embarkation security checks.
While Mr Prasad maintained that the list of names was compiled by the home ministry, the circular was issued on September 28 last year by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which comes under the purview of the civil aviation ministry. The defence ministry is already believed to have expressed displeasure over the omission and is believed to have taken up the matter with the civil aviation ministry.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->From Pioneer, 11 Aug 2006
<b>Two LeT men held with RDX </b>
Putting a question mark on the security checks and arrangements in place for Independence Day celebrations, two Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) militants sneaked into the Capital on Thursday night but were arrested by Special Cell sleuths at New Delhi railway station. Abrar Ahmad and Abu Anas were caught red-handed with two kilograms of RDX explosives and five detonators.Â
Karat is asking why you are arresting Muslim?
From Mumbai Mirror
Posting in full as it is not archived. The author of Black Friday writes how he piced together all the information for his book.
The deferred judgement of the Mumbai serial blasts of '93 by a month has S Hussain Zaidi dissecting the events that led up to the writing of his factual book Black Friday
S Hussain Zaidi
Some say that Black Friday, the book that landed me a golden ticket, by an absolute fluke, is proving a bad omen for the trial and judgement of the serial blasts of 1993. The fact that a movie based on it, directed by Anurag Kashyap, has also been jinxed, makes the argument even more convincing.
In fact, I have a confession to make. That Black Friday is shoddily written, not only in the language it employs and the inferior story-telling technique but the faulty coverage of the incident and its aftermath. It does not offer a comprehensive picture of the enormity of the blasts. The climax arrives too soon and it ends abruptly leaving the reader cheated. A sentiment shared by the entire country on August 10, when Judge Pramod Kode adjourned the judgement by a month.
My sense of pride though is derived from the thorough research and investigation; which is why the book took four years to publish. Not a single fact, detail, story or analysis has been challenged or disputed.
The beginnings can be traced back to the narration a fiction plot to David Davidar of Penguin. He wrote back asking me to try my hand at non-fiction first. The proposal submitted was entirely different from how it shaped up subsequently. As Vikram Chandra says, "Every book assumes a life of its own," which Black Friday did in more ways than I can imagine.
What I needed to understand first was that the case was multi-dimensional. Not even the lawyers or cops had the labyrinthine conspiracy all figured out. The endless transcripts, and the convoluted language they used, left me further confused. Not because of the heavy legal jargon but the way cases were made out and how the accused were bundled together, for convenience sake.
In all, 27 FIRs were registered across the city in the various police stations. The colossal task facing investigators was to justify these cases. But the more I read, the more baffled I became. As a senior cop said, "The idea is not to narrate a gripping thriller but to make a tenable case for the court." For someone who had grown up on staple diet of popular fiction like Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth, I wanted nothing more than to tell a story, and tell it well.
The next step was meeting lawyers and legal luminaries, which included advocates like Ujwal Nikam, Abbas Kazmi, Majeed Memon, Shyam Keswani, Niteen Pradhan, Farhana Shah, Subhash Kanse and others. Extensive meetings with these stalwarts helped, but they were more concerned with their clients than explaining the case from a storyteller's perspective.
Following this, I met up with the law enforcers - Police officers like A S Samra, Rakesh Maria, Y C Pawar, Arup Patnaik and Hasan Ghafoor. Patnaik and Samra could hold your attention for hours, but excluding Maria, others had limited knowledge as they were restricted by their jurisdiction and association with the case. By this time I understood the case better than several police officers and lawyers.
My tiny flat at Thane and my locker at the Indian Express (I worked as senior reporter at the time) office was overflowing with papers, documents, photographs and research material.
I also met several accused like Aziz Ahmed, Salim Durrani, Sanjay Dutt, S N Thapa and others, whom I do not wish to name. Their heart rending stories of torture and agony shook me to the core but I was nowhere near getting a grip of the story.
Once, I casually strolled into the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation , Special Task Force (CBI STF). Subhash Jha, the deputy inspector general of CBI, who I met on a couple of occasions, was helpful and encouraged me to keep meeting him. Unfortunately, my work prevented this. Soon, Satish Mathur succeeded Jha. Mathur was extremely cooperative but also very busy. Much as he wanted to help, time was not a luxury he could afford. Sensing my desperation and eagerness, Mathur introduced me to his deputy, Raman Tyagi, an Ayatullah of BBC (official name for the bomb blast case). Ayatullahs are an authority in Islamic jurisprudence and Tyagi's knowledge was unparalled.
The deputy was initially resentful about a journalist being foisted on him, eating into his time, but complied as he could not refuse Mathur. Gradually, I convinced him about my intentions and swore never to give him attitude. Perhaps we struck a bond the way only north Indians can.
I found him to be the most well-informed officer in two years of investigation. Tyagi explained the case like Jeffrey Archer. Tiger Memon's desire was to orchestrate the blasts in April, but one of his trained goons, Gullu, was arrested in a riots case on March 9, 1993, so Memon decided to strike earlier. March 12 was chosen as it coincided with the Islamic date of 17th Ramzan, when Muslims first battled against pagans and emerged victorious. "Even we will defeat the kuffars," Memon instigated.
In the meanwhile, I bumped into police witness Number Two in the specially designated TADA court. The short, bearded and energetic police approver was highly intelligent and blessed with an elephantine memory. He said, "Yeh apne bhai log jo phas gayele hain, in log ko takleef nahin hona chahiye." It was an ironical request. He had agreed to squeal on his brethren but pretended to be pious.
For a late-riser like me, the approver inflicted the ultimate torture of slotting our meetings early, every Sunday at his Irla residence. With little choice but to consent, Sunday mornings soon meant little more than coffee and conversation. However, struck a quick friendship and he suggested a name for his character, Badshah Khan.
From Khan I learned that the serial blasts of '93 may have had a Jehadi tinge, but for all intents and purposes, it was Tiger Memon's personal war. It had nothing to do with Islam. "Why lob grenades on Macchimar colony in Mahim?" Because Memon suspected they had set fire to his Tejarath International office. They deserved to be similarly burned to death.
Despite seeing both sides of the coin, from Tyagi and Khan, I felt something was amiss. That's where journalists like Shubha Sharma, Prafulla Marpakwar, Sandeep Unnithan, Pranati Mehra and Sunil Shivdasani came in. Praveen Swami of Frontline, who introduced me to a former Kashmiri militant, Usman Majeed, was a great help. I travelled to Srinagar and interviewed Majeed, who disclosed a more diabolical plan. Memon and ISI wanted to orchestrate blasts in eight metros but couldn't execute them. This was confirmed by the statement of Mechanic Chacha.
After three cartons of documents, heaps of photographs, scores of audio cassettes and a few emails, everything was ready. And with several drafts of manuscripts, the picture was complete. I hoped that the judgement and the book would release simultaneously. The book was published in October 2003. The trial was over, the judgement, pending.
Deputy Commissioner of police, detection, Pradeep Sawant, gave me the biggest compliment. "Despite being in the crime branch and overseeing the day-to-day trial of the case, I did not understand it the way your book explained."
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Hunt for six Bangla fidayeen </b>
Staff Reporter | New Delhi
The Special Cell of Delhi Police tracking terrorist threat in the Capital close to Independence Day celebrations has alerted district formations about the entry of six Bangladeshi fidayeen attackers. <b>"These fidayeen attackers are reportedly from Bangladesh-based outfits, Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami (HuJI) and Jamat-ul-Mujahiddin, and Lashkar is coordinating them,"</b> said a Special Cell official.
<b>Two of them have been named as Abdul Hamsad and Allaudin Miyan, while the names of others are yet to be confirmed. All of them are reportedly in the age group of 20 to 30 and have been asked to carry out suicide bombings in the national Capital.</b>
Subsequently, the presence of six Algerian militants, belonging to al-Qaeda's sister organisation GIA (Armed Islamic Group), is also being highlighted by intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened at Shantivan, the memorial of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Chandni Chowk. The national Capital has also been declared a no-fly zone for August 15. Elite commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will guard the Red Fort, where political leaders and citizens will be present for the Prime Minister's address.
Sharpshooters have also been positioned at high-rise buildings in Delhi. Subsequently, a team of Special Cell officers took possession of a bag belonging to Abu Anas and Abrar Ahmad, who were arrested on August 10 from the New Delhi railway station with two-kg RDX.
The deferred judgement of the Mumbai serial blasts of '93 by a month has S Hussain Zaidi dissecting the events that led up to the writing of his factual book Black Friday
Seems like a fiction. He is mixing B.Raman's fiction with bollywood.
I think the author in his book tried to piece together the events as they happened. This book and the film 'Black Friday' on which it was based come close to depicting how the blasts of 1993 were carried out by following the investigations into the case.
I have not read the book but i have sees the film.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>UK, Australia caution India-bound citizens </b>
New Delhi, Aug. 13 (UNI): The United Kingdom and Australia have issued travel advisories asking their citizens to be vigilant, while visiting India in the run-up to the Independence Day.
The Australian High Commission on Saturday said Australians visiting India should be "particularly vigilant" in the lead-up to the Independence Day as militants have in the past used such occasions to mount attacks.
The UK High Commission said its citizens should remain vigilant during this period, particularly in crowded areas.
Security in New Delhi and other Indian cities has been increased in the run-up to the Independence Day celebrations, the UK travel advisory said.
<b>"In view of this, and the recent terrorist attacks (for instance, the bomb blasts on trains in Mumbai), you should remain especially vigilant during this period, particularly in crowded areas,"</b> the UK High Commission said.
<b>On Friday, the United States Embassy had warned of terror strikes in New Delhi and Mumbai by foreign terrorists, including members of the Al Qaeda, in the days leading up to August 15, in a similar travel advisory</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>National Security Advisory Board reconstituted </b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->NEW DELHI: The Government on Saturday reconstituted the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) with former Foreign Secretary M. K. Rasgotra named convener for a second term.
Other members of the NSAB are the <b>Editor of The Hindu N. Ravi</b>Â <!--emo&:thumbdown--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif' /><!--endemo--> ; former bureaucrats K. S. Rao and V. K. Jain; Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis Director N. S. Sisodia (also a former bureaucrat); scientist Roddham Narasimha; former Army Chief V. N. Sharma; former Indian Air Force chief S. Krishnaswamy; former naval officer P. S. Das; former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman M. R. Srinivasan; former intelligence officers S. P. Talukdar and A. S. Dulat; <b>academicians Rakesh Datta, N. Balakrishnan and Alka Acharya</b>; former foreign service officials K. V. Rajan and V. K. Grover; political analyst Wasbir Hussain; and Director Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations, Rajiv Kumar.
Barring the Convener, the Government has dropped all members of the previous NSAB.
The previous NSAB constituted by the Manmohan Singh Government included former service officials P.J. Jacob (Navy), P.S. Brar (Air Force), S.S. Mehta (Army); former Border Security Force chief E. N. Rammohan; former intelligence officials B.K.R. Rao and D. C. Pathak; former Ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Ansari; President, Development Alternatives, Ashok Khosla; Honorary director, Women in Security Conflict Managament and Peace, Meenakshi Gopinath; Professor of Chemical Engineering, Punjab University, S.K. Sharma; former DRDO scientist Amitav Malik, <b>Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University C. Rajamohan</b>, and journalist Manoj Joshi.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Army takes over Kalpakkam security </b>
K Venkataramanan | Chennai
With the spectre of Independence Day terror threats looming large, the Army took effective control of security at the atomic installations at Kalpakkam and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew to prevent any terror strike on the vital establishment.
The Navy stationed two ships to patrol the sea close to the coastal installation, while commandos of the National Security Guard kept vigil alongside the Central Industrial Security Force, official sources said on Monday.
Kalpakkam, a small township about 70 km from here, is surrounded by fishing hamlets, but fishermen were asked to stay at home since midnight on Sunday, and revenue and police officials began explaining to the people about the curfew after dark. The curfew within an eight km radius of Kalpakkam will be in force from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am.
Strangers were being questioned and tourists were asked to keep away from the vicinity of Kalpakkam, which is located on the picturesque East Coast Road en route to Pondicherry on a stretch of highway dotted with beachside resorts and is close to the historic rock temple town of Mamallapuram.
"We are not taking any chances, as there is a red alert by Intelligence agencies about threats to vital installations in the country around Independence Day," officials said.
Kalpakkam is the location for the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), which is engaged in vital aspects of research relating to India's nuclear energy programme. It has two units of the Madras Atomic Power Station, besides the Fast Breeder Test Reactor, which has achieved high levels of burn-up in recent times, marking a milestone in the country's atomic programme. It has facilities to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel for repeated use. The first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) is being constructed in the complex.
IGCAR figures in the list of installations that India wants to be designed as a military facility under its proposed separation plan.
Stringent security measures have been put in place in many sensitive areas and locations, especially at railway stations, airports and the Chennai port. Entry of visitors has been banned in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi airports, while vehicles entering the airports were subjected to intense checks