Saudi nightmare: What if ISIS plans for Eid in Mecca


In President Barack Obama’s initial list of the coalition against the Islamist State (ISIS) are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Jordan. Others are being cajoled, tempted, lured but are not quite there.

India too was sounded. Mercifully, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is embarked on a mission of economic diplomacy. He will tip toe out of this one.

The frenetic hurry with which air attacks were launched on IS positions in Iraq and Syria, would seem to suggest extraordinary anxiety.

To everyone’s surprise, Syria approved the strike. Clearly, a deal had been cut under the table. Would the Saudis have been privy to this understanding?

The danger in their hugely revised estimate is not coming from Iran. In fact Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal met Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

After the Zarif-Faisal meeting, President Hasan Rouhani congratulated King Abdullah in a message on the kingdom’s 84th national day.

The speed with which the IS had taken Mosul and threatened Baghdad alarmed the world. By contrast the Shia Houthi’s swift takeover of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen from Abd Mansur Hadi has evoked little response.

In a brilliant maneuver, they did not stage a coup but arrived at a power sharing arrangement with the regime. They now have the potential of becoming a Hezbollah-like force in Yemen.

Surprising that Riyadh has not pointed fingers at Iran. In the past, this has been the continuous refrain from Saudi Arabia: that Iran dabbles in Yemen. Not a word this time.

In 1980 when the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan set a hatchery for Jehadists in Afghanistan to help eject the Soviets from that country, the hard line interior minister of Saudi Arabia, the late Prince Nayef set up training camps for true-blue all Arab Mujahideen in Yemen also to fight Soviet influence in Aden. It is these who mutated into Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula. These forces were in the care of Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a half brother of the earlier dictator, Abdullah Saleh.

When the Houthis entered Sanaa without resistance, it was Ahmar, a one-time Saudi favourite, who fled and found refuge in Qatar.

In normal times, Saudis would have been at Iran’s throat. Instead they have been kissing Javad Zarif on both his cheeks at the UN.

Something strange is happening. Saudis are swallowing their pride, making up with enemies, towards what end? Are they preparing themselves for an existential battle against the ISIS?

Let me explain why this could be an existential battle. In November, 1979, Juhayman bin Uteybi, a retired corporal in the Saudi National Guard, was identified as the chief leader of the siege of Mecca which shook the foundations of the Saudi regime. Earlier that year the Ayatullahs had come to power in Tehran. The siege and its aftermath were brutally suppressed and attention instead was directed towards Shia mischief from Iran.

The Iranian revolution, removal of triple distilled Sunni Taliban from Afghanistan, rise of Shia power in Iraq after Saddam Hussain’s fall, Hezbollah victory in 2006, failure to have Bashar al Assad’s Alawi visage knocked down, Iran’s conversations with the West on the nuclear issue, and now Shia Houthis in the news, occupying Sanaa. Shia encirclement of Saudi Arabia is complete. This should be the existential crisis for Saudi Arabia. But Riyadh is drumming up its GCC cousins as a coalition of the willing against ISIS.

In 2010, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was chummy with Bashar al Assad. He sought accommodation with Assad for the Akhwan ul Muslimeen or Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian power structure. In other words, there were a sizable number of Brothers in Syria. In Turkey, of course, Erdogan and all his cohorts were Brothers behind the screen of Ataturk’s secular constitution.

Qatar too, a patron of the Brothers, had its irons in the Syrian fire. The Amir leapfrogged into Gaza to promise them the moon. Again, the Brothers axis. All of this was most disconcerting for the Saudis.

In the standoff between President Mohammad Morsi, a Brother to boot, and Gen. Abdel Fattah el Sisi, the US initially hesitated. The Saudis turned up with $8 billion to keep Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood out of power.

The Saudi’s puritanical school of Wahabism belongs to the Hanbali school of Jurisprudence. So do the Brothers. The founder of Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, was the son of a Hanbali Imam.

In the crisscross of fundamentalist traffic in Syria injected from the outside, there is a strong contingent of Brothers, those whose ancestors laid siege to Mecca in 1979. Their mission was to keep the faith pure. Saudi rulers, in their perception, have since deviated from Wahhabi piety. Other than the Muslim Brotherhood, there are kindred spirits from other Sunni schools under the ISIS umbrella. Frustrated Baathists are too in this grouping as Born-Again Sunnis.

Suddenly, the regime in Riyadh found itself under pressure to revert to its “pure” Wahhabism. The Economist reports that many more beheadings have been done in recent weeks by way of capital punishment presumably to keep pace with ISIS’s televised beheading spree, a Christian group too came under the police gaze for simply practicing their faith. That ISIS intolerance again.

Eid-ul Zuha is on October 6. Attribute it to their black humour, but Arab diplomats not in the Saudi camp, have been floating a story: Abu Bakr al Baghdadi may like to celebrate Eid in Mecca. I had written three weeks ago that a Caliphate cannot be a Caliphate without Mecca.

Ofcourse the US is powerful enough to prevent an outcome that will shake its two principal allies in the region – Saudi Arabia and Israel. But the People versus Potentates balance will have to reset.

(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)

Who tried to sabotage Chinese President Xi Jinping’s India visit?


Unbiased analysts in India are acutely aware about China’s deliberate unwillingness to resolve the border issues with India. Its belligerent posturing with regard to the South China Sea has created strong misgivings in most parts of the world. Its patronage and sustenance to inhuman and rouge states like North Korea amounts to criminal international behavior.

China’s aggressive bid to increase its footprints in the Indian Ocean (Kyaukphyu, Hambantota, Gwadar, Maldives, Chabahar and Duqm) engages our concern. The Pak-China strategic cooperation, which has dangerous nuclear and missile components, has not abated. In fact, Pakistan’s strategic embrace of China has acquired very large territorial connotations by way of the ‘economic corridor’ agreement signed between the two countries. This corridor runs through the length of Pakistan. China is seen to be desperate to wean Nepal away from the special relationship it enjoys with India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has candidly flagged most of these issues with China on various occasions, even before and during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Business or no business, investment or no investment, he neither absolved China for ‘expansionism’, nor did he sacrifice India’s strategic partnership with Vietnam. President Pranab Mukherjee reiterated India’s commitment to energy exploration in Vietnam’s waters in South China Sea. No Indian prime minister used so many leverages in interlocution with the Chinese leadership, the most formidable being the bonhomie that Modi struck with Japan during his recent visit to that country. Given the fact that in the past, we had abandoned most of the leverages like ‘Tibet’, and ‘Taiwan’, creating new leverages has not been easy.

Leverages apart, relations between two countries should never become hostage to the demands and imperatives of a third country. We should not forget that the US used the good offices of Pakistan to reach out to China during the early 70s at the height of Cold War. The man, who served as the link for this unthinkable rapprochement was none other than Gen Yahya Khan. Both US and China courted Pakistan, the former for its global strategic designs and the later for its national and regional imperatives. The same phenomenon continues.

In the prevailing geopolitical context of Asia in the 70s, India’s maneuver space was restricted. The geopolitical situation with regard to East Asia was the same. The US sponsored ‘pivot of Asia’ existed even then. However, in the present geopolitical context this pivot has emerged to be advantageous to India in terms of economic benefits and strategic counterpoise to China.

Pragmatism demands that India actively courts this pivot, despite the doubts in India about the US role in 26/11. The fact that David Headley was not a double agent but exclusively a CIA operative, is incontrovertible? That Rabinder Singh and the family of Sangeeta Richards were spirited away from India is also incontrovertible. For India, it is difficult to distinguish from the behavioural patterns, as to which country, US or China, has greater proclivity to act as a bully. Just as in the case of China and North Korea, the US too wields rouge states like Pakistan. It is also difficult to assess that which of these two countries subverts the Indian sovereignty more. This is pertinent in the backdrop the fact that during the recent visit of the Chinese President to India many television channels were running the snippet that ‘India’s sovereignty has been mortgaged for $100 billion’. If alleged intrusions by China during Xi Jinping’s visit amounts to subversion of India’s sovereignty, so does spiriting away of Indians to the US.

Nevertheless, we continue to do business with the US and we ‘must’, because it is in our vital interests. But, there are certain imperatives which neighbours inflict on each other by shared geography, history, ethnicity, trade and energy imperatives etc. In this regard for India, China is no exception. Most rivers that sustain the Indian subcontinent emanate from in and around Tibet (China). Environmentally therefore, India has the highest stakes in Tibet. India’s biggest vulnerability is the overwhelmingly energy dependence on sources abroad, rather the most volatile part of the world, i.e. West Asia. The other alternative is Russia and Central Asia. Countries like the US can be of little help in this regard, rather its interest lies in our energy insecurity so as to have steady and larger market for its nuclear industry. Russia is already constructing a pipeline at the cost of $400 billion to China for supply of energy. Its extension to India through China is not something impossible!

It was very natural for the Chinese influence to buffet India when the country was seized by the violent political philosophy of Mao. Given the level of influence, when Soviet and Chinese Communists acrimoniously parted, the Communists in India too split. The Indian intellectual class, which have been in the forefront in the ‘Modi’s sellout to China’ narrative had no qualms when a state governments in India with heavier bias towards China ruled for decades. Many prime ministers called them ‘natural allies’. Sonia Gandhi was said to be most comfortable in company of the communists and would have never parted ways but for her reluctant acquiescence to the Indo-US nuclear deal. Many uncharitable theories exist regarding her capitulation on this score.

In 1978, China began to embark on a new course and since 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi first visited China after a hiatus of two and half decades, there have hardly been any Indian President and Prime Minister, who has not visited China. The same is true for Chinese Presidents and Premiers. Significantly, barring the last two visits, i.e. by Premier Li Keqiang in May 2013 and President Xi Jinping recently, no visit has been under the shadow of ‘intrusions’.

It is intriguing that the ‘intrusion’ factor went up only when the economic component of the relationship between the two countries gained ascendancy. The change in global pattern of arms market has also contributed to the ‘intrusion’ factor. It may be mentioned that since 2011, India has replaced China as the largest arms importer. As the arms industry has been shifting its principal market focus on India so has been the corresponding increase in the ‘threat from China lobby’. It is the same lobby, which never fails to insult India’s indigenous efforts in arms manufacture.

It is rather intriguing that in areas where there was no alternative, but to make an indigenous attempt, India has made magnificent strides. The Indian achievements in the field of nuclear technology, space technology or missile technology bear testimony to this thesis.

There are huge credibility gaps in this entire ‘intrusion’ theory. The agenda of the media in eclipsing the importance and achievements of the Chinese President’s visit by raising the decibel and rhetoric on ‘intrusions’ acquired rather abominable proportions.

This author has served in the very areas where the ‘intrusions’ have been referred to, and has led many Long Range Patrols (LRPs). For the sake of credibility of the ‘intrusions’ bandied by the media, some authenticated photographs, visuals must be shared with the people of India. Till today, there has been none. When an intrusion takes place, the Ministy of Defence (MoD) and the Army Chief owes it to the nation to tell the countrymen about the level, depth and objective of ‘intrusion’.

Last time during Premier’s visit in 2013, one had given benefit of doubt to the media about the reports and visuals about the intrusion in Depsang. None of them, however, were authenticated. More than half a dozen photographs of tents/huts/bunkers were sought to be peddled to unsuspecting citizens. Overnight the tents morphed into huts and huts into bunkers, depending on which agency was peddling what? Some reports suggest that the source of these photographs was an Embassy of a Western Country. But come C-130 aircraft in Depsang, there were a flurry of genuine and authenticated photos. These visual had larger strategic overtones, i.e. US versus China.

This time too, during the visit of Xi Jinping, there has been no statement by any government agency including the Army and the MoD about the details of the ‘incursion’. This author would humbly request for answers to following queries:-

  • Has instructions been given to subordinate commanders that under no circumstances fire is to be opened? Has instructions been given that the best way to handle an incursion is by getting into a ‘physical duel’? Is it desirable or soldierly for armed soldiers to get into this kind of a duel?
  • Is this true that Chinese came in 100s and we reacted in some 100s? Do troops move like mobs? If the Chinese moved tactically and we reacted in a similar manner, then what was the frontage?
  • If four to five hundred incursions have taken place in the recent past, how is it that none of them triggered armed response either by Indian troops or PLA troops? Despite such grave provocations, how is it that not one casualty has occurred in at least two decades?
  • Why should the Chinese resort to heli-drop of food packets for 600 soldiers in a territory that they claim to be theirs? Why did not these helicopters land?

During President Xi Jinping’s visit, one photograph circulated by one source was doing rounds of all the television channels. It showed a large number of people gathered with banners 50 meters long protesting against the Chinese ‘intrusions’. This photograph was an insult to the intelligence of every Indian Army professional who has served in the area. The reasons are simple. In the said photograph:

  • There are fancy vehicles in the background and in what is supposed to be a Ladakhi village.
  • There are no locals dressed in traditional Ladakhi dress.
  • How did the ITBP allow them to come upto the LAC?
  • Will the ITBP or the Indian Army authenticate the aircraft?

These alleged incursion incidents since 2013 have not taken place on Mars. This is an area in the Indian Territory, covered very well by various surveillance means including satellites. If all means have failed to deliver single authenticated visual proof then there is a ploy. If the Indian Army or MoD choses to be reticent or cagey on these intrusions, and leave the people to be manipulated by vested powers and arms lobby, then it is a sign of the ‘threat from within’. This is where a ‘succession plan’ in the armed forces comes handy.

This time it appears that all possible lobbies in India were activated to sabotage Xi Jinping’s visit.

(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)

Antony desiccated the soul of Armed Forces


While Manmohan Singh’s personality in the psychological context of the Indians was a perfect veneer for pliability, criminal collusion and subversion of the spirit of Indian Constitution, A K Antony’s assiduously acquired ‘clean image’ came in handy for ‘powers that be’ to subvert and wreck the Indian Armed Forces from within. It may be reiterated here that Manmohan Singh in no sense was an elected Prime Minister and therefore his writ did not extend to picking up his own defence minister. The Prime Minister and the defence minister were picked up by the same authority and for same considerations, the least of all ‘integrity’. In fact, integrity and incorruptibility, financial and moral, were two biggest disqualifications in the previous regime.

If Manmohan Singh delivered to his political benefactor and mentor by way of CWG, Coal and 2G; Mr Antony did not lag behind. Never before in the history of India, the three services were targeted in the manner in which it was done during Mr Antony’s stewardship of the MoD. Never in independent India had the arms lobby become so brazen and criminal that it dared to manipulate ‘chain of succession’ of service chiefs.

The Indian Army was deliberately dragged into controversy by fabricating age related issue in respect of an Army Chief. Mr Antony vouched for the integrity of this Army Chief when he reported the Tatra scam to him. When the age issue came up in the Supreme Court, the government of which Mr Antony was a part, submitted an affidavit to the honourable bench, testifying the integrity of the concerned Army Chief. If the Army Chief was a man of integrity, then Mr Antony must answer as to why did he re-elicit the opinion of the Law Ministry, when it had categorically ruled in favour of the Army Chief. The common buzz is that it was done at the behest of someone, to whom Antony owed his office.

The next in the line was Indian Air Force. Once the VVIP Chopper scam was reported from a foreign soil, as is invariably the case, a former Air Chief was made the scapegoat for allegedly being recipient of kick-backs. The primary fault of this Air Chief was that as demanded, he had given his ‘opinion’ on the requisite operational parameters for procurement of VVIP Chopper. Even say, this Air Chief was guilty in the reckoning of Mr Antony for having allegedly received a small fraction of the kick-backs, the Defence Minister should have been worried as to who were the major recipients of public money. On this account both the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister were silent, because their puppeteer was in the grave shadow of doubt!

Now was the turn of Indian Navy. More than dozen accidents in a matter of months! It included two submarines. Many serving and retired Naval Officers asserted that the accidents were result of age related problems of the naval inventory. After every accident, the Naval Chief was put under-pressure. Finally, the powers that be succeeded. The Navy Chief resigned. The desired person was put in Office. Such was the force and osmosis of this new Naval Chief that all age related problems of the inventory have mended without intervention and there have been no accidents thereafter. Very poor script Mr Antony! You and your patron indeed think very poorly of the intelligence of Indians and integrity of people in uniform. Sadly there were some high ranking personnel in uniform to oblige the designs of your benefactors and the arms lobby. Subversion and sabotage by the arms lobby could not have acquired this new high, but for the indulgence of the dispensation.

It was during the decade of the UPA rule that the notorious ‘Chandigarh Gang’ surfaced as the mainstay of the international arms lobby. This gang is not necessarily in Chandigarh alone, but nevertheless is centered around it. It comprises some retired officers, politicians, journalists and prominent newspapers. One of these newspapers, particularly one journalist was on an overdrive during the ‘age-row’ of the then Army Chief. Another newspaper carried the ‘coup story’ and a full page advertisement on ‘Tatra’ in the same issue.

The very same ‘Chandigarh Gang’ has been at the forefront of hyping the Chinese threat and disparaging the DRDO, all at the behest of the arms lobby. The media houses that are a part of this lobby, in conformity with the imperatives of the international arms manufacturers, bombards the audiences from time time with ‘Chinese here, Chinese there and Chinese everywhere’ stories. Patriotic citizens should rather rely on the version of the Indian Army on these stories, then being misled by some of unscrupulous media houses.

Heading this ‘Chandigarh Gang’ was none other than the illustrious colleague of Mr Antony, who it is believed was desperate to see through a ‘succession plan’ in the Indian Army. It is also believed that it was he who prevailed on Mr Antony to re-obtain the opinion of the Law Ministry on the age issue of the said Army Chief.

Threat analysis should be a major concern and responsibility of a defence minister. Mr Antony allowed the MoD to be hijacked on this issue. He equally shares the blame for India’s sell out at Sharm-el-Sheikh. As a result of Indo-US nuclear deal, he is equally responsible for degrading India’s indigenous nuclear quest by slowing down the process of ‘fast breeder reactor’ and the ‘thorium route’. If there are three ends to the spectrum of warfare, i.e. sub-conventional, conventional, and nuclear, then the entire gamut should be the concern of a defence minister. If a prime minister is hysterical about only one end of this spectrum, then the motivations are not nationalistic. At the conventional level, Mr Antony did not allow one major arms acquisition even in the face of pernicious security imperatives on one pretext or the other. Indian security became a victim of the murderous internecine rivalry of the various arms lobbies.

At the sub-conventional or proxy war end of the spectrum, the defence minister allowed India’s bargaining position to be neutralized vis-à-vis Pakistan by allowing the ‘Chandigarh Gang’ to implicate Col Purohit for Malegaon and Samjhauta blasts at the behest of international lobbies. The specter of ‘Hindu terror’ was drummed up by the media of the same ‘Chandigarh Gang’. When the Army Court of Inquiry absolved this Officer, the least the defence minister should have done is to honourably reinstate him. This is bound to recoil as one of the biggest scams involving highest levels of the country.

An unpardonable act on the part of the defence minister was to acquiesce to the machinations by the arms lobby for inquiry on the Technical Support Division (TSD) to kill the political prospects of Gen VK Singh. The TSD was raised for acquiring operational and tactical intelligence in the wake of 26/11 attacks. Those who are in the know of the splendid achievements of TSD very much doubt the patriotism of the characters who questioned the functioning of the organization in order to pander anti-nationals in the Kashmir Valley and their Pakistani benefactors.

As a consequence of Mr Antony, such has been the acrimony and groupism in the higher ranks of the Indian Army that Officers take due precautions so as not to be seen in the company of any former Army Chief, who is considered to be the bête noire of the group that his current boss heads. Invitations to former Army Chiefs to seminars are given on this basis. Accordingly, Officers are also selective in responding to invitations for social events. The situation is no better in the Indian Navy.

Mr Antony you have desiccated the soul of the Indian Armed Forces.

(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)

Can Zawahiri add to communal cauldron already full?


How dangerous are Ayman al Zawahiri’s exhortations to Muslims on the sub-continent?

There is an expression in Hindi, “Soney pey suhaga”, suhaga being the powder which makes gold shine. In a volatile social situation, where communal polarization is an electoral requirement until key state elections are out of the way, the Zawahiri slogan may have some short term advantages for the ruling party. It is perverse to say so but that is the way it is.

In the division of labour between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, Modi will be the assertive statesman, from New Delhi to the ends of the world. That is the way he has managed to get himself projected.

The media has not spotted the paradox. The man who came to power riding the crest of the biggest media campaign in history has, after having come to power, distanced himself from the media. He is establishing the rhythm: the media will be available when he needs it.

In this he is following the dictum of the genius who marketed the Beatles, Brian Epstein, the first manager of the singing sensations. For better publicity, Epstein kept the press at a distance. So far this approach has served Modi well.

The more onerous task has been left to Amit Shah, the party president. His job is to keep pushing the frontiers of communalism, to create circles of Hindu consolidation around the Muslim individuals, neighbourhoods, villages, markets, fairs. This is not communalism for its own sake but more as an electoral asset, from state to state, constituency to constituency.

At this phase of the Hindu Rashtra project, the al Qaeda’s exhortations will help Hindu consolidation that much more. In fact Amit Shah may well survey the scene and proclaim with satisfaction: with such enemies, who needs friends?

With the sort of defence being offered by the great secular, youth trio of Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and Omar Abdullah, Amit Shah will score one field goal after another.

Shrewdly anticipating more defeats coming his way in the state elections, Rahul has charged off to the security of Amethi, making cow eyes at TV cameras. Of all the images he could pick to chastise the Prime Minister, he has settled for one where Modi looked exceptionally good: competing with a Japanese drum beater. Modi played the drums with great dexterity, like a Gujarati practiced in dandia rasa. But Rahul thought he shouldn’t be doing this while food prices were high.

Just that morning newspapers were full of stories about former Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Sathasivan being made governor of Kerala without any cooling off period, but Rahul was focused on the Japanese drums. Yogi Adityanath has not only declared it a Hindu nation, but has unilaterally changed street names in places like Gorakhpur. He announced these changes on TV. Does the Congress Vice President have nothing to say?

Modi in his very first speech in Parliament had the honesty to blame India’s many debilities on the fact that it had been under “foreign rule for 1,200 years”. I disagree with him but I respect him for having said something Congressmen believe in but do not have the courage to say. They will try to please Muslims privately but keep publicly mum on that issue. Does Rahul even understand the nuances of the issue at hand? Front pages of newspapers have been carrying photographs of men being given bucket baths in city squares as part of the ritual preparatory to their return to the Hindu fold from Christianity. Love Jehad is the flavour of the season. Any thoughts, Rahul?

Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow and Omar Abdullah, who rules Kashmir from his bungalow in New Delhi, are a shade worse than Rahul. They have thrown in the towel for the next round. The word to their partymen is: we are not coming back in the next round. So help yourselves.

With such an open field, does Amit Shah need more polarizing material from Zawahiri? In the established custom of the Indian media, Zawahiri will be sourced to Pakistan and some high decibel discussions will be mounted in which masochistic, retired, Pakistani Generals will make guest appearances to be shouted at. Is it a fix like World Heavyweight Wrestling?

Given this state of play, chances are that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s mangoes will be reciprocated with some Gujarati dhokalas only after the elections in Jammu and Kashmir are over in January. Until then, communalism is an electoral necessity and an opening with Pakistan is incompatible with this requirement. Unless, ofcourse, Modi lives upto his reputation of being capable of surprises.

By this time the nation may well have lived through its most intense phases of communal tension. Amit Shah’s electoral needs will have been exhausted only by February. There may be some relief then or there may not be depending how the Hindu Rashtra project can be navigated alongside “sub ka saath, sub ka vikas”.

Desperate Muslim youth may at that stage be in search for a rallying force, but I find it difficult to believe that Zawahiri kind of Islam, extracted from Saudi Wahabism, will have a burgeoning clientele in India. The danger will arise when more muscular forces like the ISIS, with their mastery over the new media technology begin reaching out to pockets of agitated Muslims on social networks. That would be dangerous because the turmoil in West Asia is a regular part of the Arab and Western media diet. They have some understanding of issues from their different perspectives.

On foreign affairs Indian audiences have no sources of information other than what is doled out to them by outsiders. We have so far survived being frogs in the well. But this time a huge tsunami may be drifting in our direction. For nation not to have its feet on ground will be dangerous. Television channels must mount informed discussions, along with the staple of shouting matches.

(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)

2G Scam: CBI chief Ranjit Sinha in the dock for trying to save corporates?

Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha is under fire for allegedly attempting to save corporates named in the 2G Spectrum Scam. The CBI chief is also accused of allegedly shunting out Santosh Rastogi, a DIG-rank CBI officer, from the investigation of all 2G spectrum scam matters.

Now a newspaper report in DNA has revealed that “top officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) have met Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha at least 50 times in 15 months at his official residence – 2, Janpath – in Delhi”.

The newspaper has accessed the visitors’ diary at the CBI chief’s residence and according to its report, two officials from ADAG “have been visiting Sinha’s residence almost every week between May 2013 and August 2014”.

Last week, advocate Prashant Bhushan had filed a fresh application in the Supreme Court of India against the interference by the CBI chief in the 2G scam case. The application alleged that Ranjit Sinha was trying to scuttle the CBI investigations in the 2G case by attempting to save Maran & Maxis, and then more brazenly attempting to save Reliance ADAG and other influential accused who are already facing trial. “He has also attempted to transfer out the CBI’s lead 2G case investigator,” the application alleged.

To add to this, Arun Kumar Agrawal, an RTI activist and a whistleblower who filed the first complaint exposing Swan Telecom and Reliance ADAG in 2009 has written a letter to the CBI chief over his alleged collusion with promoter of Reliance Communications.

“Is it true that you, as CBI Director personally tried to favour Anil Ambani/Balwa/Goenka/Swan Telecom by trying to shift the effective date for investigation as the date on which the licenses were issued (that is 10/1/2008) and not the date on which license was applied for (Swan Telecom applied on 2/3/07 and Anil Ambani transferred the company on 18/10/07 to Balwa). You also wanted re-investigation to be done by the CBI on the basis of the amended dates,” Agrawal asked Ranjit Sinha in his letter.

Meanwhile, the apex court today decided to take up the issue of the alleged visits of corporates to the CBI chief’s residence. The apex court will hear the issue on September 4 and it has asked Prashant Bhushan to submit entry register details of CBI chief’s residence.

Interesting times ahead it seems.