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Rediff.com  » News » Say yes to the FBI!

Say yes to the FBI!

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October 11, 2004 10:53 IST

After spending five decades and more repudiating the idea of India as a nation and a sovereign State, rejecting the political symbols of Indian nationhood, and rewriting the history of this land to erase uncomfortable facts that clash with their perverse ideological biases, our Communists and Marxists have suddenly discovered merit in protecting India's sovereignty.

Having forced the UPA government to rid the Planning Commission's consultative groups of 'foreign' consultants because their inclusion 'compromised India's sovereignty and freedom,' the Left has now launched a vituperative attack on the US Ambassador to India David Mulford for daring to offer FBI assistance in tracking down those responsible for the series of blasts and other acts of ghastly terror in Assam and Nagaland.

There is a popular adage in Bangla that most of our comrades would be aware of: Bhooter mookhey Ram naam, which loosely corresponds to 'the devil quoting the scripture.' It is laughable that Comrade Jyoti Basu and his junior comrades who have rarely missed an opportunity to denigrate Indian nationhood should now jump onto the nationalist band wagon.

It is, however, not my intention to focus on the Left's perversity. Tele-Marxists and their camp followers do not deserve a fraction of the space that the media lavishes on them. Step into my parlour, said the spider. Thank you, but I would rather have my chai elsewhere.

The bloodletting in Assam and Nagaland, in which nearly a hundred civilians have perished, is a grim reminder that there are troubled regions in India other than Jammu and Kashmir. If there is a commonality between the violence in our north and Northeast, it is the foreign hand that arms and guides the killers. Almost a week after the killing spree began on October 2 as the nation observed Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's birth anniversary, the identity of the killers remains a mystery.

Also read: 'Insurgency is the biggest business in the northeast'

The proverbial needle of suspicion points at the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been waging a bloody separatist war for more than a decade. The purpose could be to scuttle all possibility of dialogue, both in Assam and Nagaland, with separatist groups who have been considerably weakened in recent years. It could have been a demonstration of undiminished strength despite the demolition of terror camps in Bhutan. Or it could have been ULFA seeking to pour oil on the fire that is raging in Manipur -- with more northeastern states erupting in an orgy of violence, the Centre would be confronted with a major crisis.

What is beyond doubt is that our internal intelligence apparatus has failed miserably, though not for the first time. After ULFA's cowardly act of terror on Independence Day, which claimed the lives of 15 children, both the Union home ministry's Intelligence Bureau and the state government's intelligence wing should have been on their toes, gathering information and nipping mischief in the bud. Obviously, they were busy minding other affairs, the import of which is best known to them.

What is also now evident is that a wimp of a home minister like Shivraj Patil cannot be entrusted with the onerous task of managing the country's internal security. His response time is alarmingly slow -- Manipur burned for more than a fortnight before it struck him that something was wrong and needed his ministry's attention -- and his public pronouncements -- 'Our doors are always open for unconditional talks' -- are manna from heaven for perpetrators of terror.

The abject manner in which he pleaded with chief ministers to adopt a soft line on Naxalites was the ultimate negation of the Indian State's responsibilities. He is totally clueless of what's happening in Jammu and Kashmir and one can take a wager that he cannot tell the difference between LeT and JeM. If the country's home minister is so emasculated, is it a wonder that terrorists should have a field day?

This brings us to the third certitude: Now that Pakistan has to make a show of easing up on the Jammu and Kashmir front, it has shifted its theatre of action to India's northeast. The ISI has set up 195 camps in Bangladesh for training and arming anti-India elements, ranging from ULFA and Bodo terrorists to Islamic jehadis, with the active connivance of Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamaat-e-Islami Government. Cox's Bazaar and Chittagong have been established as key transit points for arms and other weaponry. What we have just witnessed in Assam and Nagaland is a foretaste of things to come.

The minister for external affairs acknowledges this new reality and bristles with rage, the home minister admits that he is aware of the emerging threat from the east and pitifully wrings his hands, and the prime minister expresses public concern over terror camps in Bangladesh and tut-tuts in admonishment.

Meanwhile our babus, including those in IB and RAW, having abysmally failed in the very task for which they are maintained in high comfort by taxpayers, taking a cue from our comrades, are howling in protest at the American offer of the FBI's help in tracking down the perpetrators of the violence in Assam and Nagaland and bringing them to justice. Their refrain centres round the cliché, 'We have the ability to handle this problem, we can do it on our own,' as one home ministry babu put it.

Deploying additional army troops and paramilitary forces is the easiest option, but does not necessarily mean success on the ground. Counter-terrorism involves waging an asymmetrical war for which sophisticated technology and trained personnel are required. The truth, much as we may hate it, is that we lack both men and material, not to mention political will, to fight terrorism on our own.

The debris of the explosions, the bullet cartridges and other clues left behind by the killers in Assam and Nagaland could yield vital evidence about the origin of the explosives and the arms, the identity of the terrorists and their patrons. If the FBI can provide assistance in putting together this evidence, why not make use of the American agency?

After all, India and the USA have a joint counter-terrorism working group, both countries are partners in the global war on terror, and there are at least two UN resolutions that mandate such cooperation. By accepting the American offer of help, we will not be compromising our national sovereignty; on the contrary, we will be adding real value to our counter-terrorism efforts whose dismal failure we can continue to countenance at the cost of our national sovereignty.

There are other possible gains, too. If the Americans were involved in putting together clues that led to the conclusion of ISI having a hand in the upsurge of violence in our northeast, if they were confronted with the reality that Bangladesh has now become the hub and haven of Islamic jihadis owing allegiance to Al Qaeda and terrorists of other ideological persuasion, then we can rest our case.

Terrorism, as has been pitilessly established by the perpetrators of terror, knows no national boundaries. From Beslan to Assam, from Kandahar to Kashmir, from Jakarta to New York it is one seamless world. The war against terror is not a war for national sovereignty. This is a war that no nation can fight alone. Others have gone into battle ignoring this simple truth, and paid a terrible price; let us not make a similar mistake.

Of course, egos will be bruised: our political leaders, such as we have, will feel rendered impotent; our babus who suffer from an incurable disease called 'instant rejection syndrome' that makes them say 'no' to the sanest of suggestions, will be shown up for what they are; our intelligence sleuths will be forced to eat humble pie. So be it.

They can cry on the shoulders of the new defenders of the faith, our comrades.

Kanchan Gupta

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