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’.
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)