Rafsanjani to mollify Saudis on Iran nuclear deal

Saudi Arabia - IranBY SAEED NAQVI

After the partial nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva, the US will divide its attention over two important theatres. In the Middle East, it will have Russia as its partner and foil. China will be more hands on in the Pacific where, Pivot to Asia, is the US’s other principal thrust.

In the Middle Eastern theatre the Iran deal sets into motion two processes. One is the non-proliferation issue which P5+2 will juggle with. This is the group where Israeli intelligence will keep furnishing inputs about Iran’s venality. These stories will start being leaked, well (with a shrug of the shoulders) next week.

The main dynamic the Iran deal has set into motion is what I call R5+2. R5 stands for the five regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. The plus two are the US and Russia.

If you have grown accustomed to seeing Syria as the centre of the regional universe for the past two and a half years, the Iran deal should place that issue in proper perspective.

Consider the impact of the deal on the R5, one by one.

Saudi Arabia has in the last few days seen its hold on the GCC countries loosen. To keep himself and his Kingdom in play, Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal, addressing the GCC, suggested that the Kuwait Foreign Minister lead the group to Washington protesting against the deal. Kuwait refused as did the UAE Foreign Minister who, instead, travelled to Moscow to sign different another affidavit.

There are two different appraisals of Saudi vulnerability in the context of the deal. First is the power struggle behind the curtains, a fierce war of succession. A regime so divided and debilitated is more likely to acquiesce in the new arrangement of power in the Mid-East. But the opposite can also happen. A regime weakened internally is unlikely to be able to resist the ultra conservative clergy.

A more thoughtful approach, one which the dominant foreign policy elite in Tehran is inclined towards, considers the present power structure in Riyadh as the one most likely to be reasonable in the altered regional scenario.

Two terms former President of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani, shares this view. This comes across in an interview he gave to London’s Financial Times. He obviously maintained his personal relationship with Riyadh even during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad period. In fact he was invited by the Saudi King to perform Haj last month. It was impossible for Rafsanjani to accept the invitation because American back channels with Iran were at a sensitive stage.

Rafsanjani will travel to Riyadh but only after preparations have been made for such a visit. Iran’s top leadership has to arrive first at a consensus on “de escalation” with Saudi Arabia. Rafsanjani believes a comprehensive deal with the West is possible in a year, without much Saudi opposition.

Saudi’s extraordinary clout derives from their two assets, the holiest Muslim shrines at Mecca and Medina and the world’s largest reserves of oil in Qatif the eastern provinces, which is also overwhelmingly Shia. Rapprochement with Teheran, de escalates tensions in Qatif which, in turn, enables Riyadh to tone down the Sunni-Shia divide it promoted regionally as part of its anti Iran foreign policy.

The informed view in Teheran is that the Saudi power structure is a sort of tripod: Wahhabism, Salafism and the regime in Riyadh which has a sprinkling of closet liberals. That the regime remains intact is in everybody’s interest. Should it weaken, Wahhabism’s clout grows, providing succour in the region to groups like the al Qaeda.

For Turkey, the Iran deal provides an escape from the mess it has unnecessarily landed itself into because it misread the Arab Spring and the foreign induced Syrian civil war. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, having increased his party’s vote share in three successive elections, looked like one of the world’s model statesmen. He improved the economy, promised peace with all his neighbours.

There was always in him something of an Islamist. In 1997 he was found violating canons of Kemalist secularism. He was jailed. His guilt? A poem he recited in public: “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

To keep buoyant in politics, he went into “taqayya”, disguising his faith. He was a roaring success as Prime Minister. But when Muslim Brotherhood started sprouting here and there, nurtured by the Arab Spring, the West set him up as a model for a changing Middle-East. He naively bit the bait, egged on by his Sancho Panza, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. He turned up in Tripoli for thanks giving prayer in the city square after Muammar Qaddafi’s brutal murder. Apparently Mustafa Kemal Pasha had taken part in some Libyan battle. Sprouted in Erdogan’s mind a regional architecture based on nostalgia for Ottoman rule. By now, his Islamism in full throttle, he became the principal frontline state for sending in men and material to Syria’s Islamist opposition. Prime Minister of secular Kemalist state fuelling Islamic fundamentalism next door?

When the writing on the wall became clear after the Iran deal, Davutoğlu turned up in Teheran, cap in hand. Erdogan, meanwhile is off to Moscow. Iranian gas is a blandishment. Iran has also sought names of ten Israeli spies of Iranian origin operating out of Turkey. Internal dynamics in Turkey suggest President Abdullah Gul is on the ascendant. Erdogan and Davutoğlu may well be shown the door, if balance is to be restored in Ankara.

On Egypt, Iran feigns indifference to what the US wants: a regime which is not overtly hostile to Israel. The real expectation in Teheran is that the Obama administration will pitch in strongly for a two state solution, with security guarantees for Israel. This brings Washington in line what Teheran is most comfortable with: a President Jimmy Carter like approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Also, former National Security Council member, Bruce Riedel’s condemnation of double standards on the nuclear question in the Middle East goes down well with folks in Teheran. This was Erdogan’s line too until he lost the plot in the Middle East.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Possibility of political assassinations?

Prime Minister Manmohan SinghBY RSN SINGH

It is blasphemous for any prime minister to express apprehension in a public meeting that the elections in the country he governs may be disrupted by inimical elements. He must have been compelled to make statement to this effect because of the sheer weight of the inputs provided to him through intelligence and diplomatic channels. The manifestation of this threat was evident during the BJP’s rally in Patna in end October this year, wherein half a dozen people lost their lives and about 100 sustained injuries. Their only fault was that they had chosen to attend the political rally of a leader whom Pakistan and its tentacles in India do not endorse.

From which quarters did the Prime Minister implied the threat? Was it the Maoists or jihadi groups from Pakistan or both? Or is it the ISI-jihadi combine of that country? The same country which the Prime Minister has been indulgent towards despite the architect of 26/11 enjoying political patronage! The same country which beheads our soldiers and then has the gumption to send its prime minister on a pilgrimage to India? The same country which dispatched Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff’s advisor to India to brazenly confabulate with the separatists of Kashmir. All these were facilitated by the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh. An attack on Indian election process is the ultimate target for the enemies of India. It is the moral duty of the leader of a country to mitigate and then downplay such threats when interacting with the people. His admission of the threat therefore is a commentary on the vulnerabilities of the country, whose architect is none other but himself. It also reflects how incorrigible our security planners have become to gravest of provocations.

Why did the Prime Minister make this curious admission? Is it to psychologically prepare the people of India for the possibility of some high-profile assassinations by jihadi elements? Nothing is unthinkable in a country ruled by intrigues.

This tacit admission by the Prime Minister is in the same vain as that of Nehru when during the Chinese attack on India, he had made the famous remark: “My heart goes out to the people of Assam”. He was obliged to make such a statement because somewhere in his heart he felt guilty about the security vulnerabilities he had created because of his idealism, lack of statecraft and pathological hatred for people in uniform. In that he had a conceited and garrulous associate, left leaning Mr VK Krishna Menon. In the present dispensation under Manmohan Singh, it is not ‘hatred’, but the factor of politicization and subversion of the security apparatus and the instruments of governance that has brought this country to this pass.

India is a sum total of its states. Nobody should know it better than an economist prime minister who was expected to dedicate himself to further the cause of nation-building. But the dispensation he leads at the Center began to bribe, promote, reward and subvert corrupt and anti-national elements in the government of the constituent states’ purely for political expediency. As a consequence the economic and security apparatus crumbled. This has been the bane of India under Manmohan Singh.

A police officer demanding blackberry phone from a political party will be a scum under any dispensation. An officer who bargains his bail in exchange of some official documents with a predator Central Government that treats some state governments as ‘prey’, will remain a blackmailer all through his career. An IAS officer of a state when sacked for corruption choses to politically scheme with vested interests at the highest levels in the Central Government to wriggle his way out of corruption charges is intrinsically disloyal, even to his family. Treating them as political assets is myopic and no patriotic prime minister should allow it.

The Manmohan Singh dispensation has given an exceptional impetus to the culture of creating crooks, cronies and careerists in the states. Some ‘Center-friendly’ Indian states have been used solely for political funding and crony capitalism, and most have been used for creating so-called ‘Hindu terror’. While the states the Center perceives to be inimical are being hounded for being tough on terror. In this regard, the Ishraat Jahan case is glaring.

The Prime Minister therefore has no right to bemoan the threat to the election process.

This mode of subversion is not only confined to the bureaucracy and the police, but has been extended to the Armed Forces and intelligence agencies. There are insinuations that pliable service chiefs have been used to manipulate the defence budget and procurement schedules, and have been accordingly rewarded. One service chief is widely believed to have bought his post-retirement sinecure. The level of subversion of the governance apparatus was at its acme in the run-up to the Indo-US nuclear deal. A senior journalist close to the government was heard bragging as to how he made all media houses fall in line in support of the deal.

The art of subversion was adopted even before Manmohan Singh was ‘selected’ as the Prime Minister. It began with the subversion of set of journalists. A comprehensive conspiracy was hatched in Lutyen’s Delhi and the country for the first time was witness to sting operation in journalism. The idea was to target the then ruling party and its main ally by ‘creating’ vulnerabilities in individuals and institutions. They did not find it easy to succeed. They were being stonewalled at many levels. A party leader was pestered, literally implored to accept rupees one lakh, saying ‘sir, please sir, for party fund sir, please sir’ and so on. If these journalists were patriotic they would have been proud about his refusal in the first instance.

This party leader indeed put the amount into the party fund. The legality part is not an issue here. Fundamentally, this was a journalistic crime because it was not seeking out vulnerabilities but creating them desperately. Journalism in India has never been the same since then. The main architect and the conspirator of the sting operation went on to own a weekly magazine. He collected many other subverted characters, some of them patronized by jihadis and Maoists. It is therefore not at all surprising that the main architect this time chose to outrage the modesty of a girl, who looked upon him as a father figure. For those who believe, it is a vindication of phenomenon of natural justice.

Too many people, some very honourable, were trapped by these so called ‘investigative journalists’. Investigative journalism involves seeking or ferreting documents or inputs. Merely being a receptor of documents and inspired leaks doled out by subverted government functionaries for materialistic considerations is an anti-national and lecherous activity.

Mr Prime Minister, politics under your dispensation has hit such a low that the State has begun to denigrate surveillance as snooping activity on selective basis. The vitiated political culture is destroying the sanctity and anonymity of even married women subjected to sexual crimes in different ways. If an IAS officer persists in trailing a girl of his daughter’s age, is it not legitimate to institute surveillance on him and his target victim? Sustained surveillance is an imperative to obtain details and for the purpose of legal framework against the offender, especially the high-profile ones. The CIA plant in RAW, Ravinder Singh was put under surveillance for many months. If the degradation of institutions and professions had not taken place, this shameless and corrupt IAS officer would not have been entertained on television channels.

Mr Prime Minister, do you agree with some of your party colleagues that Batla House Encounter was fabricated? If you do not, will you kindly issue a public statement. Mr Prime Minister, do you agree that so called ‘Hindu terror’ is more serious than ‘jihadi terror’? This contention is attributed to second most important functionary of your party in the Wikileaks. Mr Prime Minister, why did you allow members of the European Commission to descend on Raipur to watch the trial of Binayak Sen? You must answer some of these questions and then tell the nation who is out to disrupt elections in India and who has created the conditions.

And finally the last question that tests the very basis of modern India: Do you as a ‘selected’ prime minister suffer from any pangs when popularly elected, patriotic and conscientious Chief Ministers of the country you govern are vilified and demonized for being vigilant and prompt in tackling terror?

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap)

Rewarding treason: UPA’s art of governance?

Indian Army in Siachen - 1BY M G DEVASAHAYAM

In September 2012, the Ottawa based Atlantic Council, alleged to have links with Pakistan’s ISI, announced the signing of an agreement to demilitarize Siachen as part of Confidence Building Measure between India and Pakistan. This agreement was negotiated by a 22-member India-Pakistan Track II team, headed on the Indian side by former Air Chief Marshall SP Tyagi, in its various meetings in Bangkok, Dubai, USA and finally at Lahore. This was despite the clear stand adopted by the Army, Defence Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs against ‘demilitarization’ of the glacier that has huge strategic value for India.

There was something sinister in the whole thing because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been under pressure from the US to pull back from Siachen as a sop to the Pakistan Army who has been threatening to lease out Baltistan/Gilgit to China. It was also known that despite having no actual presence on Siachen, Pakistan continues to claim the territory.

As soon as details of the ‘Agreement’ were put up on the internet all hell broke loose. It went ballistic on the military (serving and veteran) email circuit in which some civilians like me were also part. Lt General PC Katoch, who had commanded the Siachen Brigade during the Kargil War, fired the first salvo through an article in the Fair Observer followed by Kunal Verma (filmmaker and writer) in Gfiles and the Hindi edition of Outlook. The mainstream media kept mum, obviously under orders from PMO!

The just retired General VK Singh’s take on the issue was nuanced and candid:

“Let us first be very clear as to who is asking for this so-called demilitarization. The Pakistanis are not on the Siachen Glacier, but are west of the Saltoro Range. Contrary to what they want their own people to believe, they have a zero presence in Siachen. I wonder if demilitarization will also result in Pakistan withdrawing from Baltistan, pulling back to the west towards the Karakoram Highway?…. It is ludicrous that in such circumstances we are talking of demilitarization and withdrawal. Our troops are well established and administratively well off so what is the rationale to pull them out of the area?”

A set of twelve questions were posed to the Track II team:

  • Who appointed the Team and what are their credentials and service record in the Siachen area?
  • Who all in the Government briefed the Team?
  • Did the Team visit Siachen before inking the agreement?
  • Was the decision of the Team unanimous?
  • Decision to demilitarize Siachen has grave military consequences. Were the three Service Chiefs consulted on this?
  • This issue has serious strategic, deployment, logistics, demographic, displacement, cost and time implications for the Army. Was the matter discussed with the Northern Army Commander?
  • After ‘demilitarization’ what additional measures will be required to check terrorist infiltration in Kashmir Valley?
  • Is it merely a Track II initiative? If so why were the members briefed by Government officials before the Lahore meet? Were they not told that this team is “as good as Track I”? Does it not make it official?
  • NSA is stated to have briefed the leader of the Team and one/two members separately? If so why? To firm up a secret deal?
  • The whole process, particularly signing of the Agreement was kept under wraps. Why this secrecy?
  • On whose orders did some select members of the Team justify the agreement?
  • Why was such a major decision not discussed in Parliament and President kept informed?

ACM Tyagi declined to respond, but Col Ajai Shukla, a Track II member and its self-appointed spokesperson did. He was livid with anger but had no answers to our questions. So he called us all ‘communal scums’ and pointing to me wrote: “Amongst those with the most dubious credentials in this group is you. An IAS officer turned moralizer! What a combination, Sir-ji.” This impotent outburst did not work, PMO made a hasty retreat but Ajai Shukla, the treason-peddler, was offered a high position in Prashar Bharati, but that did not work out! This ‘gentleman’ who has sold his soul says that General VK Singh’s ‘autobiography provides a stunning insight into the mind of an army chief who went rogue’. He then goes on to upbraid co-author Kunal Verma as ‘a long-time military groupie who has been paid crores from the defence budget to write self-congratulatory coffee-table books!’ What a travesty!

Treason seems to be the practiced art of UPA minions and their cohorts. Even abetting virtual mutiny in the Army is game for them. They did it by planting stories in a ‘Delhi based English daily’ in April 2012 suggesting that the serving Army Chief was engineering a coup to overthrow the Government of India. The report deliberately linked movement of some Army units in Rajasthan and Haryana to “June 1984 when some mutineers from Sikh units had moved towards the capital in the wake of Operation Bluestar,” suggesting in a devious manner that the above troop movement was also part of mutiny. Even after a year and a half, this blasphemy is yet to be probed and the seditious/treasonous intent of its perpetrators brought to light! But the ‘fertile brain’ behind this in the PMO was elevated to the rank of Minister-of-State!

The Technical Service Division (TSD) episode was equally bizarre. TSD is a covert operation agency, activities of which are directly related to the safety of the soldiers fighting on the borders, retribution on the enemy and the security of the citizens. By its very nature TSD operation was ‘top secret’. Even the existence of TSD should never have been publicised. Doing so could be treasonous. Yet on March 2, 2012 a leading Magazine published a planted story that inter alia read: “Defence Ministry officials say they are also concerned about the activities of a shadowy unit called the Technical Support Division within MI…Who the targets were and for what purpose, is still not clear.”

Soon thereafter the incumbent Defence Secretary initiated a ‘Board of Officers inquiry’ to go into the working of TSD and received the report in March 2013. In the meantime TSD was wound up. After six months the same daily that ‘leaked’ the coup came out with banner headlines: “Unit set up by VK Singh used secret funds to try and topple J&K government, block Bikram Singh: Army probe”. The leak had come from a former Joint Secretary in the Defence Ministry who was the alter ego of the Defence Secretary. This sad episode has cost the Army heavy in terms of life and reputation and the nation has been repeatedly humiliated. Even then, the high-official behind this treasonous act was seamlessly elevated to a prestigious constitutional position!

Governance is at such nadir today because governments at the centre and states have been banishing the wise and promoting the profligates. By rewarding treason UPA government has descended to despicable depths and has made governance a tragedy!

(MG Devasahayam was an IAS Officer and holds post-graduate degree in Economics. Previous to the IAS he served in the Indian army and has participated in the 1965 Indo-Pak war and counter-insurgency operations in Nagaland. He is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Fight against Maoists: Choice is between few heads and democracy


In the just concluded elections in South Chhattisgarh nearly three million voters exercised their franchise for electing their representatives in 18 assembly constituencies. Both men and women disdainfully ignored Maoist warning of chopping the fingers of those who dared to cast their vote. Rather the voting percentage of tribal women was as much as 90 percent in certain segments.

This is not the first time that people of the region in an area of 40,000 sq km, larger than the state of Kerala have defied the Maoists election boycott call. An assessment of voting figures in the worst Maoist affected areas indicates that the voting percentages in majority of areas have increased when compared to 2008, while there has been marginal drop in two regions, i.e. Bijapur and Bastar:

In terms of overall voting percentages in the 18 constituencies, there has been an improvement, even if marginal from 66.9% in 2008 to 67% in 2013. ( Note—Certain other sources maintain that polling was as high as 74 percent this year).

It can be construed from the voting figures that the level of enthusiasm in the democratic process has not flagged since 2008. In both the years the overall voting percentages have remained impressive going by the national average. So the theme flogged by Maoist apologists of tribal veering away from national mainstream is humbug. It also busts the Maoist pretensions of popular following.

Further, traversing from South to North, the voting percentages increase because of attenuation of Maoist writ. The marginal slide is in the southern areas, i.e. Konta and Bijapur, in the forested belt reeling under Maoists terror. However, in the same region in the urban areas such as Dantewada which have the succor of the writ of the State, the voting percentage has been 67%, an increase of 12% from 2008. There is no yawning difference between 2008 and 2013 in any of the electoral segments enumerated above. The people therefore have been unmistakably steadfast in their commitment to national mainstream and democracy. It is the State that has displayed cowardice in securing their aspirations.

The public mood and anger against the Maoists is evident from the voting figures of 2008 and 2013. Nearly 70 percent voting can be considered overwhelming but such is the viciousness, dread and monopoly over violence of the Maoists, that it is their terror that has overwhelmed the population.

The impact of Maoist terror on the elections was obvious. A total of 4142 booths, in 18 constituencies, were declared sensitive, which included 1,311 hyper-sensitive ones. There was no voter turnout in as many as 42 booths. Due to Maoist threat polling parties could not reach two booths in Antagarh, south of Kanker. In Chhattisgarh as such, out of 21,442 stations, 6,922 have been declared sensitive and 3,249 hyper-sensitive. This reveals a grim security scenario in the state owing to Maoist terror. The Election Commission shifted as many as 167 polling booths in Bastar due to Maoist threat. Nearly 7,000 voters were expected to trudge 15-50 km in the Abhujmarh area, which covers around 3900 sq km of forest land. It is for these reasons that the voting percentages in the so-called Maoist liberated zone have been low. It may also be mentioned that none of the candidates dared to canvass in the Abhujmarh and Narayanpur.

The level of security preparations was unprecedented. Nearly one lakh security personnel were deployed to conduct elections in 18 constituencies, which translates into roughly two Lok Sabha constituencies. Security personnel constituting more than 500 companies of para-military and CRPF were put through a 15-days jungle warfare course for conduct of the polls. Each booth had two tier security. Helicopters and UAVs were put to use, the latter for the first time for conduct of election. Despite these security arrangements, there were 14 Maoist attacks to disrupt polling. Nearly 80 IEDs were recovered from the poll zone. Security personnel and polling parties studiously avoided vehicular movement and kept away from roads.

This large deployment indicates that the level of Maoist terror since 2008 has not abated rather amplified, even as democratic and nationalistic aspirations of the people have been treated as ‘seasonal’ by the Indian State. Nevertheless, the redeeming aspect is that the overall voting percentages have remained nearly the same. It means that people are crying to be salvaged by the State. It was these very courageous people, who had banded together to form the ‘salwanjudum’. If people have not been dissuaded by diktats of the Maoists to boycott elections, it means that they are desperate to break free from Maoist shackle imposed by its leadership, constituting largely by Andhraites and Bengalis.

The magnitude of ‘boots on ground’, amounting to five divisions of the Army, when considered in terms of purely number of personnel, betrays that the Union Government is acutely aware of the level of threat posed by the Maoists.

Is it not therefore criminal neglect by the government to abandon the people of the region to the mercy of Maoists after elections?

Does democracy solely concern itself with conduct of elections?

The State’s failure to rescue people from Maoist terror has engendered symbiotic relationship between certain political parties, politicians and the Maoists, to influence the course of elections in the Maoist Corridor running euphemistically from Tirupathi to Pashupathi. Maoists in fact have become a violent leverage in the electoral politics of India. Speaker of a Legislative Assembly is widely believed not to be a merely a supporter but an active Maoist. The ruling party of a particular state owes more than half its seats to Maoists. One Chief Minister deliberately refuses to acknowledge the Maoist terror even as more than 30 of his districts fall within the Red Corridor. Another Member of Parliament from Odisha in pursuit of religious agenda was allegedly involved in killing of a social worker Laxminanda Sarasawati in collusion with the Maoists.

The foregoing elections in southern Chhattisgarh, it may be emphasized, were conducted in the shadow of murder of 27 people by Maoists in an ambush on May 25, 2013 in the Darbha Valley in the Sukma district. These people were participating in a political rally, a perfectly legitimate democratic activity. The killed included Mahendra Karma, a tribal leader and V.C. Shukla, a former Union Minister. Both were redoubtable politicians. These killings smacked of a political rival plot and the region is abuzz about the involvement of one particular politician, a CM aspirant.

Maoism is thus gradually eroding the vitals of parliamentary democracy in India.

The people defied Maoist terror in Chattisgarh in overwhelming numbers because of their faith in democracy, made possible by unprecedented security intervention of the State. It also shows that Maoists do not enjoy little popular support and that Maoism in India sustains on ‘terror’. If the people were to be really disenchanted with the State, then most of the voters would exercise the newly introduced ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ option in the EVMs.

The Election Commission did in large measure temporarily reclaim the areas for conduct of election in the Red Corridor. But the imperative for democracy and development is ‘permanent’ and not ‘temporary’ writ of the State.

The elections also suggest an ongoing struggle between democracy and Maoist envisaged totalitarian State, the latter being masterminded and spearheaded by few non-indigenous leaders and ideologues, enjoying respectability in garb of intellectuals. The tacit support of inimical external powers is dismissed by subverted interests or grudgingly factored by security planners and analysts.

The vested interests, who deny any external links of the Maoists in their endeavor to establish a totalitarian State, have to only look towards Nepal where the Chinese leadership have been alternately inviting both the Prachanda (pro-election) and Baidya (anti-election) group to China to chalk out two different routes for capture of State.

Only a few devious heads need to be crushed to liberate people from Maoist terror in the Red Corridor.

The choice before the Indian State is between a few heads of the Maoist leadership, their ideologues and democracy.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap)

Like Palestinians, Muslims of Muzaffarnagar forego their right to return, on oath

Muzaffarnagar RiotsBY SAEED NAQVI

The government of Akhilesh Yadav in UP has asked the battered Muslims of Muzaffarnagar to sign an affidavit:

“Myself and members of my family who have left our village and our homes due to violent incidents in our village, will not now return to our original village and home under any circumstance.”

This undertaking, sought by a government which lays a special claim on Muslims, has made Firaq Gorakhpuri’s famous couplet stand on its head.

“Palat rahey hain ghareeb ul
Watan, palatna tha
Who koocha rookash e jannat ho
Ghar hai ghar phri bhi.”

(Exile may have been the very picture of paradise, but please let us return because there is no place like home, after all)

In this affidavit, the SP government is demanding the Muslim refugees of Muzaffarnagar to forego their right to return, rather like the Palestinians. Many refugees worldwide do not return for a variety of reasons. But here the state is complicit in perpetuating the exile.

If the refugees commit themselves not to return home, they will be entitled to a cheque of Rs.5 lakhs, equivalent of about $8000.

There are other conditions for the recipient of the dole: “The lumpsum financial help being given by the government will be used by me only to rehabilitate my family. With the help of this money, I will live with my family arranging for residence elsewhere (not in my village).” Returning home is taboo once the cheque has been accepted.

A further condition is: “On receiving the lumpsum financial help amount, neither I nor any member of my family will demand any compensation relating to any damage to any immovable property in my village or elsewhere.”

The implication is that any property left behind in the village can be vandalized or occupied by those who have pushed out the Muslims from their respective villages. But these Muslims will forfeit the right to complain about their properties being vandalized or occupied once they have received the Rs.5 Lakh cheque. Brilliant governance.

One would have expected the State government to send the refugees back to the homes they had fled during the riots. True, they have gone through horrible experiences. They have seen their relatives killed, their wives and daughters raped. They are therefore afraid returning to their villages unless the State can ensure their security. In normal times this was supposed to be the duty of the State. But the Samajwadi party appears to be evolving a new pattern of institutionalized apartheid as a means of managing the fallout from communal riots.

Who knows, the UP government may have embarked on an imitable model. If the majority community in a village has grown tired of that profaned term “composite” culture, all it has to do is to riot on a massive scale and drive out the minority into make shift refugee camps. The SP officials will show up cash-in-hand and ensure that the minority never returns to the homes it has abandoned.

The majority will now have a homogenous population in the villages. If the uprooted minority, Rs.5 Lakhs in hand, mutate and become the new banjaras or gypsies, so be it. If they settle in blocs of newly constructed shacks, they will be easy targets for arson as well as for votes.

It is also possible that the State government is not being as cynical as it may appear to be. It possibly has collaborators among the Muslim clergy.

Muzaffarnagar is close to Deoband, the largest Muslim seminary in the subcontinent. Maulana Arshad Madani and his disciples have shouldered a great deal of the responsibility of the riot victims still in the camps. The government in Lucknow has done little to help.

Why should a government which imagines the Muslims are its vote bank, not be energetically helping them in their distress? For two reasons: it would not like to be seen by the majority community to be reaching out to Muslims. In an atmosphere so polarized, supposing mischievous elements scream “appeasement”, that word will resonate statewise. It is not totally rational but that is the state of funk in which all parties are fighting these elections, except perhaps the three ladies – Mayawati, Jayalalita and Mamata.

Handing Rs.5 Lakh to Muslim refugees and encouraging them to take the road, is Mulayam’s way of playing both sides:

“Shaikh bhi khush rahey
Shaitan bhi naraaz na ho”

Which means that the “Shaikh should be pleased but Satan should not be displeased either”.

Well, the Shaikh of Deoband is actually playing ball with Mulayam. He is advertising the cheque as a boon for the Muslims of nine villages of Shamli and Muzaffarnagar. The political quid pro quo is simple: the clergy gets the credit for having extracted the boon from the SP government and thereby hopes to tighten its grip on the community. A rattled SP expects Deoband to help it win back the Muslim votes.

The Deoband School considers the separation of poor Muslim families, a minority in many villages, from the prosperous Jat majority an outcome to be desired. Why? Because wives and daughters of the extremely poor Muslims are exposed to sexual exploitation by the rich.

Will they not be so exploited as gypsies or in new settlements they know nothing about?

From the great secular fraternity, the silence on Muzaffarnagar has been deafening. Some weeks ago the CPM organized a Convention against Communalism at Delhi’s Talkatora stadium. The hall was full of SP volunteers wearing red caps. No sooner had Mulayam spoken than the red caps left. Only the CPI’s A.B. Bardhan urged Mulayam to arrange for the return of the refugees. Mulayam winced.

The only party with friends in Muzaffarnagar and which is campaigning for the refugee’s return is an unexpected one: Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

Where does the Congress stand on the issue of the return of the refugees?

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior Indian journalist, television commentator, interviewer, and a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. Mr. Naqvi is also a mentor and a guest blogger with Canary Trap)

Former RAW Officer RSN Singh’s Speech

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Former Research and Analysis Wing officer RSN Singh speaking at a seminar on “IB on the Brink: Politicizing Terror – A disaster in the making”.

“The Rohngiyas and the Buddhists have riots in Myanmar. Where does the terror backlash come? Not in monasteries of Myanmar…..the terror attack comes in Bihar at Bodhgaya. Why,” Singh asked.

The speaker, in this prophetic speech in July this year, had warned about the emergence of Bihar as a hub of Indian Mujahideen.