The Indian Navy in a Royal Mess

BY SHAILESH RANADE

Indian Navy Submarine Sindhuratna (S59) was berthed alongside Sindhurakshak (S63) on 14 Aug 2013. It very narrowly missed being put out of commission that fiery night. On 26 Feb 2014, it very narrowly missed its appointment with the Davy Jones Locker. While the sub escaped in one piece, there were a few unfortunate victims. Two Officers are dead, a half a dozen sailors injured and the Navy’s Top Boss has abandoned his South Block Office in Delhi.

In my last post I had mentioned that the Navy (including the Army and Air Force) continue to be run in a whimsical manner by two Bollywood Terms “Chalta Hai” and “Ram Bharose”.

In the last six months, the Navy has not changed at all. The safety stand-down in the immediate aftermath of the S63 incident has not produced the desired results. It was not meant to. For if it had, heads would not be rolling.

The Navy is now in “Mayday” status. A weak and dishonest political leadership begets a frail and spineless military leadership. Cover up is the norm. Statements like – Pass your time buddy, I’m here another 3 months, Let the next bugger sort it out is the new standard operating procedure.

The Chiefs have a direct responsibility for the welfare and safety of the men under them. Pray, why are old systems and platforms still in use. Why is the Air Force still flying the MiG-21? What is the Navy doing with a 50 year old carrier that spends more time in port than at sea? What happened to Gen VK Singh’s letter to the PM about shortages in the Army?

These are serious issues. Why jeopardise the lives of soldiers and colleagues in peace time? The notorious flailing by Gen VP ‘Kargil’ Malik – “we will fight with whatever we have” was actually a one-way ticket for our brave jawans. Who in the Army Headquarters, was taken to task for the shortages. None. But the Brigadiers and Colonels in the field got it in the neck.

The Navy is in a Royal Mess. The other two Services are not far behind. The current culture of this Blue Water Navy is destroying the fleet in Brown Waters without having fired a single shot since 1971.

There is no doubt that the responsibility lies with the Officer Cadre, especially the Flag Rank. While serious issues with the political leadership can be sorted out when the Navy gets its dream four star Admiral one day, the in-house spring cleaning can start right away.

The More Privileged: It is well known that certain prized appointments are the sole preserve of the kith and kin of Senior Officers. ADC’s, Flag Lts and Staff Officers of Admirals move in directly as Commanding Officers without have done sufficient sea time as Lt Cdrs or as Executive Officers. Most of these Officers are in Command for 365 days and are back to serving their bosses only to make way for the next lot of personal staff. Where is the loyalty to the sailor or the ship? In this regard the Navy can learn from the Merchant Navy, where to become a Master; the officer would have done a tour as a Chief Officer. None of the present day three star C-in-C’s have been Executive Officers of ships. Not surprisingly, almost all have poor leadership qualities.

New vs Old: The Navy has the latest ships and also some of the oldest in its inventory. Commonsense demands that the intelligent and more experienced hands run old ships. Instead, what the Navy does is to put those in Command of these ships who are lower in merit and the guy who “dared to request for being wet listed”. Old ships and obsolete engines cannot be run by Officers just seeking to mark time. It requires patience and dedication followed by rewards. None of those who Command these miserable ships get promoted to the next rank.

Lessons Learnt: The Navy almost never seems to learn its lessons. Adm DK Joshi proudly announced at the Sindhurakshak press conference that the Board of Enquiry would be completed and findings disclosed in 4 weeks. Has anyone heard of them? Have the procedures been revised and implemented? Are there any auditors to check? Quite unlikely. Therefore, we get to hear of incidents at regular intervals and the poor tax payers get to foot the expensive bills of the insufficiently trained crews.

Incompetent Dockyards: The technical leadership and the naval dockyards are in strong competition with the DRDO for ineptness and inefficiency. The Sindhuratna had just been refitted and repaired at the Naval Dockyard. Were all systems given the “Green” before she was pushed out to sea for trials? It was most probably a hurried job with a wily Admiral breathing down the submarine Captain’s neck. Despite a massive overtime bill for dockyard employees, almost no refits are completed to the satisfaction of ships’ Captains. The dockyards need a complete overhaul.

Rat Race: Hardly had the CNS resignation news been flashed across the TV screens, the three star stalwarts started promoting themselves. Some used their proximity to defence correspondents with one dumb journalist even stating that a particular C-in-C was not only a very fine officer but also a very intelligent one. The Navy has such officers even at the Sub-Lieutenant level. But the Service, unfortunately, at this moment needs a Leader. The root cause of the “lineage” and “line of succession” as some call it, is the date of promotion and the date of birth that decides the date of retirement. While nothing much can be done about the date of birth, the promotion depends entirely upon a piece of paper called the Annual Confidential Report. So, given the right connections, it is quite possible for a grounded land lubber to move into the flag rank seamlessly. There are many Admirals who have less than 10 years of sea time in a service spanning 40 years. The Navy would do well to split itself into two groups – “Wet” and “Dry”. The Wet Group (at least 20 years at sea) could be expected to occupy all the star billets. The Dry Group (less than 10 years) could hope to go up to Commodore level at best and be responsible all activities in support of the Fleet. Merit should precede seniority at all levels. If this is done, the ubiquitous publication called Navy List will cease to be the most popular book in the Indian Navy.

Admiral DK Joshi should be commended for having called it a day in the middle of his innings. He has set a high standard. It’s a clear hint for the other Senior Officers to follow suit. If one can’t run the Navy, please don’t run it. Admirals must remember – their mistakes and pusillanimity costs lives and ships.

Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.

Read other posts by Shailesh Ranade:

(Shailesh Ranade is a Guest Blogger with the 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)

Lt Col Srikant Purohit: A victim of Hindu Terror Industry

BY RSN SINGH

Look at the distance the anti-national discourse of Indian politics has traveled. A film actor serving sentence for aiding and abetting terrorism is the beneficiary of parole with vulgar regularity and brazenness and Col Purohit, a patriotic soldier continues to languish in prison. His cardinal sin being his infiltration into the network of Indian Mujahideen and its patron LeT. More than two dozen concerned officers have vouched in Court-of–Inquiry that in pursuit of his duty, by no standards ordinary, he had kept the organization in loop. Purohit, in keeping with the imperatives of country’s security, shared Intelligence with sister agencies including the Maharashtra ATS, which invited him on several occasions to deliver lectures.

By now it is clearly established by some prime plotters and participants of 26/11 like Ajmal Kasab, David Headley and Abu Jundal, that a painstaking diligence was invested by the planners to portray the attack as handiwork of ‘Hindu Terror’ organisations. If Ajmal Kasab had not been caught alive the plot had nearly succeeded. It was a sort of divine intervention that Kasab developed cold-feet and failed to destroy himself as per the instruction of his handlers and jihadi indoctrination. The network of plotters included some politicians and journalists in India. Readers may find out who wrote a book, (to apologize later) about 26/11 being a handiwork of Hindu groups and which politician was the chief guest during the release of the book!

Fabrication of ‘Hindu Terror’

Few days before 26/11, I was solicited by the Tehelka magazine to write a column on my views on the arrest of Col Purohit. My initial response, knowing the unabashed pro-establishment proclivities of the magazine, was that my views would be repugnant. Only when, I was assured of my intellectual freedom, I relented. I must say, my views were not only respected, it was carried as the very first item on 22 Nov 2008 issue. Without the benefit of hindsight I then wrote:

“It is a travesty to paint Purohit as the Indian Osama Bin Laden. Going by the selective and flip-flop leaks by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra, and the manner in which the media is lapping it up, it appears that there is a concerted bid to make an ‘Osama bin Laden’ out of Lt Col Purohit, and prove that Sadhvi Pragya and her accomplices are the new ‘Hindu Jehadis’. The credulity of the general public is being stretched on various scores. Firstly, the speed at which fresh revelations are being disseminated by the ATS, is in complete disregard to professional propriety. Secondly, the unprecedented number of narco tests the accused are being subjected to. Thirdly, there is a total blackout with regard to the version of the accused. Fourthly, with every passing day, the network is being enlarged; as if to suggest that the entire country is being consumed by ‘Hindu terrorism’, and has pan-Indian dimension. Fifthly, if intercepts of some of the accused were available prior to the blasts, why were no pre-emptive measures taken? Sixthly, no army representative has been included in the interrogation team. Seventhly, the most intriguing aspect is the timing of the investigations — on the eve of elections.

The ATS revelations are extremely complex in nature due to the alleged involvement of an army officer belonging to military intelligence. The media, therefore, needs to be cautious about the manner in which it reports the briefs by the ATS. The Colonel is a legitimate intelligence operative. Interaction with the police authorities, other intelligence agencies, desirable and undesirable elements, was very much a part of his duty. No intelligence agency issues written orders in pursuance of intelligence operations. The entire system is based on trust and faith. It is yet to be established how much disconnect there is between the legitimate and illegitimate activities of the officer during the course of his duty. The level and extent of interaction and cooperation that the officer had with other Intelligence agencies is not known. There can be no greater travesty than the suggestion by certain quarters that the involvement of Lt Col Purohit is symptomatic of a deeper malaise in the Indian army.

An officer of military intelligence is not in direct command of troops. He has only a small complement of personnel working under him. A military intelligence officer is hardly competent in providing training on Improvised Explosive Devices.

Importantly, the nation must trust in the legal procedures of the army which is far more stringent. The army will brook no ideology which impacts on its established secular character and credentials. As and when Lt Col Purohit is handed back to army custody, it is inevitable that he will be meted out the appropriate punishment, if found guilty. The media must be patient, and, spare the army.

In flagrant violation of all imperatives, norms and practice Col Purohit was not handed back to the Army nor the Indian Army was meaningfully incorporated in the interrogation and investigation. The country could trust the Indian Army with 92000 Pak prisoners in the wake of 1971 War, but could not be depended for fairness and justice with one of its own Intelligence officer. It is now beyond doubt that the decision of his civil custody was deliberate and conspiratorial. It nails the persisting doubts regarding involvement of facilitators within the Indian dispensation in staging 26/11.

Anticipating that Col Purohit will eventually be handed over to the Army I wrote in the Indian Defence Review in 2008:

The level and extent of intelligence interaction and cooperation with other intelligence agencies that this officer had, is also not known. That is why, it was very important to have a representative of the Military Intelligence, when the interrogation of the officer began. To that extent, a state police organization is not only under-equipped but also out of sync with central intelligence agencies in dealing with an official of Military Intelligence.”

The stories being fed to the media by the government was not only incredulous but outrageous to any professional intelligence personnel. Those feeding the information particularly to a particular newspaper were police discards who had gravitated to this altered ATS, solely for the purpose of politicizing terror at the behest of their political masters. Subsequently, post 26/11 another investigative organization was created to perpetuate politicization of terror at national scale. The low intensity blasts in Malegaon in September 2008 was the trigger for creation of the desperate theme of Hindu Terror, following which the respective ATSs of states ruled by one particular party went on an overdrive. The newspaper as mentioned, in its blind fidelity ,reproduced stories of Hindu Terror dished out by the govt , having hilarious contradictions in frequency of two consecutive days. The plot was slowly unraveling and so was the desperation of the spin-doctors. I therefore expressed my suspicion thus in Indian Defence Review in 2008:

“The investigation following the ‘Malegaon blasts’, is extremely complex in nature due to the alleged involvement of an Army officer belonging to the Military Intelligence. The media therefore needs to be extremely cautious and circumspect about the manner in which it reports the briefs by the ATS. I have deep apprehension that the complete truth, as and when it unfolds in the future, could have several unsavoury and damaging twist.”

Unsavoury and Damaging Deductions

It has indeed proven to be unsavoury and damaging. Now, with the benefit of hindsight analysis and driven by growing crops of facts and evidence, some of the ineluctable deductions are:

  • 26/11 was orchestrated by Pakistan and other external powers in concert with vested interests in India. The objectives of external interests was geopolitical and of internal players – the need to balance the spate of jihadi terror by fabricating so-called ‘Hindu Terror’. Towards this, there were plans in place in all three phases of 26/11, i.e. preparatory phase, conduct phase, and post-conduct phase. In the Preparatory Phase, the jihadis were taught about Hindu ways and were also taught Hindi language. Their instructor was none other than Abu Jundal, who has confessed as much to the Indian authorities. The jihadis were made to wear sacred threads on their wrists to establish their identities as ‘Hindus’ after their ‘shahadat’ (martyrdom). In the Conduct Phase, it appears that the Chief of the ATS Mr Hemant Karkare was eliminated as he knew ‘too much’ and in the Post Conduct Phase or Consolidation Phase, the plans to publish books labeling 26/11 as an act of ‘Hindu Terror’ was pursued, despite the unexpected apprehension of Ajmal Kasab, which had put paid the conspiracy.
  • The low intensity blast in Malegaon were probably orchestrated in September 2008 (Malegaon-II), just two months before 26/11 to create the bogey of ‘Hindu terror’ so that the attack could be sold as an act of ‘Hindu terror’ with some degree of credulity.
  • Later, Malegaon-II was used as the trigger and kernel to weave the story of so-called ‘Hindu terror’. High publicity suspects were carefully chosen, created and implicated. It included an Army Officer (Col Purohit) and a saffron clad woman Hindu activist (Sadhvi Pragya). Great combination for publicity and to neutralize Pak sponsored jihadi terror!
  • Once Malegaon-II to facilitate 26/11 was effected, to dispel obvious doubts the spin-doctors began to work backwards in order to prove that all terrorist attacks in which Muslims were victims, were the handiwork of the so-called ‘Hindu terror’ groups. In this bid, they got badly stuck on two counts, i.e. Malegaon-I (2006) and Samjhauta Express blast (2007). In Malegaon-I, the casualties were very high, some 37 people were killed and usage of RDX was in evidence. In establishing the attack as ‘Hindu terror’, the spin-doctors are in quandary about pin-pointing the source of RDX. Initially, through the medium of its captive newspaper, it was disseminated that it was sourced from the army. However the very next day, it was clarified that the Indian Army that it does not use RDX. As far as Samjhauta Express blasts are concerned, the Moroccan wife of David Headley, Faiza Outalha, had told the US Embassy in Pakistan that her husband was the mastermind. The US State Treasury Department till today maintains that the main financer of the blasts was a Karachi based businessman, and LeT operative, Muhammad Arif Qasmani.
  • It also appears that Col Purohit was castigated and then taken into custody to facilitate 26/11, as he had infiltrated deep into LeT network. His arrest was also used a measure to scare conscientious operatives of other Intelligence agencies.
  • Similarly, the self-inflicted vicissitudes of the Aseemanand case are ludicrous. Sometimes he undergoes a ‘change of heart’ and is on a song, only to retract later, sometimes a ghost journalist interviews him in the dark room of the jail, which he subsequently denies.
  • The scripting of the untruths has been so unprofessional and so politically motivated that the establishment is finding it nearly impossible to prepare credible and sustainable charge-sheets against these so-called ‘Hindu terrorists’.

Conclusion

India’s most respected and incisive intelligence and geopolitical Analyst, B Raman, a former senior official of R&AW, was at pains to underscore that there is no phenomenon such as ‘Hindu terrorism’. He was castigated by his detractors. He was called names. His detractors insinuated that he was looking for sinecures by the future dispensation. A hurt and distraught Raman had to finally reveal that he, suffering from terminal stages of cancer, and was only looking for sinecures away from this earth. Raman left for the heavenly abode on 16 June 2013.

After series of jihadi attacks across the nation in the preceding five years, the decision to script the so-called ‘Hindu terror’ by the ‘Hindu terror industry’ was in keeping with the imperatives of vote-bank politics in run up to the elections in 2009. Untruths are now recoiling on the establishment. In the past five years, nothing has been established against the so-called ‘Hindu terrorists’, like Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya. They deserve to be restored and rehabilitated with dignity with which a saint and soldier deserves. If a nervous establishment decides to see last of them before it relinquishes power, then it is another matter.

(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. 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)

Saudi and Iranian leaders involve India in regional peace

BY SAEED NAQVI

Visits to New Delhi by leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran in quick succession would seem to suggest something new is happening in West Asia to which Indian attention is required.

Some historic changes have already placed the region on a path of hope: the election of President Hassan Rouhani, his historic telephonic “hullo” with President Barack Obama, positive movement of the Geneva process on Iran’s nuclear programme, etcetera.

Negative propaganda was not sticking on Tehran which, with every passing week, looked more statesmanlike, above the mess in the rest of the Middle East.

Well, the Saudis are on their way to restoring the balance. When Saudi king Abdullah returned from hospital in February 2011 and saw his friends Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis toppled, he swore to arrest the so called Arab Spring. The message rang out of Riyadh: “No monarchies or Sheikhdoms will be allowed to fall.” They were not allowed to fall. Libya was a different tragedy and it ended in a mess. But we shall let that pass.

The unholy mess in Syria was dragged on and on by multiple Salafist groups under the supervision of Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He turned up in Moscow and told Vladimir Putin that he could ensure incident-free Sochi Winter Olympics if only Moscow would pull back from its support to President Bashar al Assad in Damascus. How would he guarantee that, pray? He said he controlled the extremists in the Caucasus. Putin said we have known for ten years you control the militants. It sounds like a parody on outlandish diplomacy. All of this was actually leaked to the Russian media.

Well, Prince Bandar has been relieved of his duties to arm and fund Syrian rebels. The change holds promise of slow descent of peace on the war torn country. The change also promises a return to smoother relations between Riyadh and Washington. With Bandar’s theatrical diplomacy now in the past, Riyadh can settle down to sketching a comprehensive agenda for the visit next month of President Barack Obama. Bandar is being replaced by Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. The world’s longest serving Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al Faisal too is being asked to go. His slot will be filled by the King’s son, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah.

It is against this elaborate background that the Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud’s visit to New Delhi is being assessed.

Even though, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s one day visit to Kandahar had been arranged well in advance, he must have taken into account the themes that his Saudi and Iranian guests will dwell on.

US Deputy Secretary of State, William J Burns has reiterated something that generally causes missed heartbeats in Riyadh. He said “US is likely to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer in the next five years or so, and with the prospect of genuine energy independence in the next twenty years or so, it’s also natural for Americans to wonder if we really need to pay so much attention to the Middle East.”

Therefore, these visits provide an opportunity to New Delhi to become part of the mapping process for a new architecture in the region and the Middle East. The Saudis will, in muted terms echo Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s concerns about involvement of India in Afghanistan. This is what the Saudi delegation will have picked up in Islamabad. They would also have been acquainted with Pakistan’s query: “who will foot the bill of about five billion annually for the Afghan Armed Forces?”

What role for the regional players in Afghanistan to enable the US to withdraw by the end of the year? What chances of Indo-Pak movement towards normalcy. Look, there is some movement even on the Israeli-Palestinian track. Will Kashmir remain an eternal question mark?

In Lebanon, Saudis have scaled down their demands and accommodated Hezbullah in the government. An explosive situation with the Shia Huthis in Southern Saudi Arabia bordering Yemen has been defused.

The Syrian situation is at an interesting stage because Bashar al Assad’s presidency comes to an end in 2014 until new elections are held.

The Iranians, New Delhi will find are on the same page. Indeed, some sort of a Tehran-Riyadh crawl towards an entente is not unthinkable. Remember, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was invited for Haj by King Abdullah. He could not go. Rafsanjani has always maintained that the ruling family in Riyadh are best bet for everybody. The alternative could well mean more power to Salafi groups.

(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)

Modi and Muzaffarpur

BY RSN SINGH

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the Bihar Police about conspiracy by the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and other jihadi groups to target Narendra Modi during his public rally at Muzaffarpur in Bihar on 3rd March 2014. Inputs provided in this regard are quite specific incase the political dispensation in Bihar chooses to be concerned and its security machinery decides to be professional. Even in the public meeting addressed by Narendra Modi at Gandhi Maidan in Patna in October 2013, there were specific inputs about the plans to assassinate him by causing stampede through blasts in series all around the venue. Six persons were killed. For the first time in the history of India people as such were targeted during a public rally. Hitherto-fore the sole targets were the political leaders. Thus, the jihadis introduced a new kind of ‘political terror’ in India in the land of Bihar.

North Bihar is now the hub of Indian Mujahideen (IM). The districts of Darbhanga, Smastipur and Madhubani have emerged as the safe hideouts for terrorists. Its signatures have been found in most terrorist attacks in the last few years, i.e. Pune Bakery blasts (2010), Mumbai blasts (2011), Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts in Bengaluru (2010) and Patna Blasts (2013). One of the culprits, Mohammad Yunis Ansari, who desecrated the Amar Jawan Jyoti in Mumbai in 2012, was picked up by the Maharastra ATS from Sitamarhi district in Bihar. Ishrat Jahan of LeT, had links with Bihar. Some political leaders of the political dispensation went to the extent of showering the epithet of ‘Bihar ki Beti’ on her.

Following the Batla House encounter in 2008, wherein the main ID expert Atif Ameen was gunned down, there were series of crackdowns by Delhi Police and UP’s ATS in Ajamgarh and other areas of Eastern UP. Simultaneously, the Pune module of the IM was also busted by the Maharastra ATS. The joint operations had neutralized the IM talent spotters. It was then that the IM training school shifted to Darbhanga.

The eastward shift of the epicenter of jihadi terror has been particularly discernable after the visit of the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to Pakistan in December 2012. Just a week back on 07 February 2014, interrogation of two IM operatives Zami Akhtar and Manzar Sai by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) revealed their alleged terror links with the Minority Welfare Minister of Bihar Shahid Ali Khan. Khan represents Sursand Assembly Constituency in Sitamarhi, not far from Muzaffarpur. From personal experience, this author may submit with all the emphasis that initial interrogation reports are prepared in full innocence and are therefore rarely inauthentic. Nevertheless, the Chief Minister took an umbrage over the input. He had taken similar umbrage when a team of Maharastra ATS and Special Cell of Delhi Police carried had travelled to Bihar to apprehend members of IM. He had strongly objected on basis of misplaced territorial jurisdiction to the arrest of alleged IM module operative Kafil Akhtar by the Karnataka Police in 2012 in Bihar. Kafil was allegedly involved in Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts. Belying the the expectation from any nationalist Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar was clearly seen to be taking a devious route in avoiding the interrogation of Yasin Bhatkal, when he was apprehended on the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar by the NIA in August 2013. In this deliberate act of omission, the Bihar Police unabashedly ignored the fact that Yasin Bhatkal was the terrorist who setup the IM module in Darbhanga in North Bihar.

The Bihar government disdainfully ignored requests by the Union Home Minister to setup Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), despite repeated urging for four years. It was only after the blasts at the Maha Bodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya in July 2013 that the government was compelled and impelled to embark on the process of forming ATS.

While the Bihar Chief Minister has been taking strong exception to the so called interference by security agencies of other states in apprehending terrorists in Bihar, the revelations by the SSB about the alleged IM links of his Minority Welfare Minister of Bihar Shahid Ali Khan, is a stark reminder as to why for the purposes of secrecy, operations against terrorists need not be necessarily shared with the concerned state governments. In such operations and for matters of secrecy everyone, no matter his or her official position , should be treated in a circumspect manner. Moreover, while ‘law and order’ is a state subject, internal security is not. The former director of the IB DC Pathak said: “This is beyond ‘law and order’ matter of national security. There is prescribed practice and convention for joint effort and assisting agencies tracking terrorists. States cannot interfere when it comes to terrorism.”

North Bihar has emerged as a meeting point of jihadi terror and Maoist terror. The districts of North Bihar, which facilitate jihadi industry are also becoming safe-havens for Maoists. When the present government assumed power, 18 districts of Bihar were impacted by Maoist terror, today it is 32. Maoist terror has crossed the Ganges and now engulfing most parts of North Bihar. So the new refrain about Maoist insurgency being a tribal problem is humbug, an agenda of the West.

Only last week, in Misraulia village of Muzaffarpur, not very far from the place where Modi is to address his rally, nearly 200 Maoists, dressed in battle fatigues, destroyed 10 vehicles and road construction equipment of a company engaged in repair and construction of national highway, as it had refused to pay levy. The estimated loss was of Rs 5 crores. Again just a few days later in the same area, two tractors belonging to brick kiln company were destroyed for the same reason. The Politician-Maoists nexus in Bihar and Jharkhand is well known. Are these attacks aimed at widening the extortion network through terror before elections for political funding? Government and political patronage to Maoist extortion industry is indeed the new innovative route for political funding. Most of the dacoits in the Bettiah district of North Bihar have now joined the Maoists ranks and are now part of the thriving extortion industry patronized by some mainstream politicians.

Both jihadi terror and the Maoist terror have different manifestations. Jihadi terror can be controlled to a great degree by choking external aid and abetment. The perpetrators of jihadi terror can be isolated and eliminated. However, the Maoist terror is difficult to grapple because of its linkages with the so-called intellectuals and mainstream politicians, thriving on the extortion industry. It is Maoist terror under which the affected people are gasping for life, liberty and growth. It is Maoist terror that targets economic and human development and desiccates the soul of the society. In their methods the Maoists are far more brutal than Taliban.

After the recent destruction of road building equipment by the Maoists near Muzaffarpur, will any contractor dare to take up projects in affected areas?

Nitish Kumar has been garrulous about his agenda of development and economic achievements. In all fairness the quantum of his claims can be debated, but certainly not denied. It is these developmental efforts that brought the ruling dispensation back to power with an unprecedented majority. The moot question therefore is, how then Maoist terror instead of receding, has been consuming new areas in Bihar? It clearly indicates that Maoist terror has little to do with development. It is being exacerbated by powers, both external and the internal. Only two years back, 10 French tourists were deported from Bihar for their bid to establish links with the Maoists.

As per the MHA, Bihar has witnessed the fastest growth of Maoist terror in the last two years. The MHA labels Bihar as one of the ‘severely affected states’ along with Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. Even West Bengal has improved to ‘partially affected’ state.

The security space in Bihar has been shrinking at a frightening pace. Most businessmen, contractors , and professionals working in the shadow of Maoist terror have accepted the extortion industry as fate accompli. The destruction of road construction equipment by Maoist is a normal feature. Who would then like to invest in areas suffering from Maoist terror?

In the Maoist strongholds or ‘liberated zones’, in some areas of Gaya district, no development effort is possible. These are areas where even the Chief Minister cannot dare to visit, leave alone address a political rally. The political representatives of the area are known to be in truck with the Maoists and at least one of them enjoys a high and sanctimonious legislative position.

Despite the growing Maoist terror, the Chief Minister again took umbrage when the Union Home Minister questioned Bihar’s ‘counter-naxal strategy’. He said that Maoists had looted 38 sophisticated weapons and ammunitions in 2013, the highest in the country from Bihar police due to poor training. He also lamented the complete lack of cooperation between the Bihar Police, central forces and police forces of neighboring states like Jharkhand.

Narendra Modi is therefore going to address his next rally at a place which is the meeting point between jihadis and the Maoists, the former orchestrated by Pakistan, and both aided and abetted by some subverted within the government in Bihar.

The former Union Home Secretary, R K Singh has accused the Bihar CM of being soft on both Jihadi and Maoist terror. When the CM treats a political adversary not as a political rival, but an enemy, the underlying message percolates down the administration, and security becomes causality.

(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)