Will Trump era provide respite to those with destroyed countries?

BY SAEED NAQVI

The procession of breast beating “liberals” doesn’t seem to end, not since Donald Trump eclipsed their most shining star – Hillary Clinton.

True, Hillary would be graceful at the Inaugural Ball.
Favours to none, to all
she smiles extends.
Oft she rejects but
never once offends.

Melania would be a novice by comparison. But here we are talking about aesthetics and class? Why then pull out John Stuart Mill to measure the order just ushered in.

The argument that Hillary would have made a better President because she knew every nook and corner of Washington, White House and Foggy Bottom is precisely why she lost. It set her up as the Establishment which was remote from the people who found solace in a person who did not even look like a politician.

On the “Liberal” yardstick, both falter.

Two images of Hillary are etched on my mind. I had just returned from Syria in early 2012.  I wrote a paper for the Observer Research Foundation explaining why Bashar al Assad was nowhere near falling.

In fact, regime change was simply not possible by cross border terrorism supporting Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda inspired restiveness in places like Hama, Homs and Daraa all being amplified by the Western media as a full blown civil war. This was in 2011-12.

I can never forget some frames. Hillary Clinton comes into focus, repeatedly, with an imperious wave of the hand: “Get out of the way Assad” and “Stop butchering your own people”.

The second image of Hillary concerns Libya. Anybody with even an elementary knowledge of ground realities in Libya knew how the British and other Western intelligence had with great diligence stoked an insurgency. The matter had been discussed in British Parliament. Prime Minister David Cameron had a series of skirmishes with his army chief Gen. David Richard on the Libyan misadventure.

Americans entered the Libyan drama late, but, being Americans, they chose to take the credit. A front page cartoon in a European newspaper shows a fire in the distance. In the foreground is Uncle Sam, looking like a butler, waiting outside a garden umbrella where some European grandees are sipping campari. One of them snaps his fingers: “go put out that fire”.

That is when Hillary embarked on the mission. The indelible image she left on my mind was a split TV screen. One half of the screen is Qaddafi being sodomized by a knife; on the other is a triumphant Hillary shrugging her shoulders: “I came; I saw and he died.” Never will there be a more macabre play on “Vini, Vidi, Vici”.

Where is the great “liberal” spirit seering through all of this?

Why then are the “liberals” everywhere beating their breasts at her defeat? Do they see Trump as “illiberal” by comparison?

The two images of Hillary’s involvement with Syria and Libya would probably be justified by falling back on the classical Wilsonian approach. After the victory in the First World War, neither Britain, France or other allies quite envisioned the peace settlement the way Wilson did. After armistice, Woodrow Wilson began to draft in his mind a plan for a “just democracy throughout the world”. For democracy and freedom to be secure in the United States, the sapling will have to be nurtured everywhere. Like these moral values, wealth too would accompany good governance and enterprise as part of God’s plan.

Liberal ideals would spread gradually almost by imitation. It can be argued that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was also, in large part, by imitation. But in both, Syria and Libya, the Liberal argument would have to be contrived, that it was important to defeat the two tyrants who were brutalizing their own people. Woodrow Wilson envisioned the expansion of the Liberal ideal by example and gentle persuasion. He never envisaged a post World War II American pre eminence on a scale where Judge, jury, executioner and the dispenser of information would all be one and the same.

Now consider the casualty figures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen – a total of over a million dead and 15 million displaced. The wars begun by George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz were continued by Barack Obama. He simply could not dismount. What liberal ideal is involved in these unspeakable horrors?

Remember Obama had promised to shut Guantanamo Bay as soon as he entered the Oval office. Every time he tried, he found himself glaring at an intelligence file for Eyes Only. An unnerved Obama backed away.

That is the kind of turf the Intelligence Community is obstinately holding onto in its continuing battle with the Trump White House.

That the establishment, media and the intelligence community are out to embarrass Trump on the legitimacy of his election is not without its irony. George W Bush too had stolen the 2001 election in Florida. But there is a difference. The establishment was on his side then.

The American liberals we learnt to revere in our school was Clarence Darrow, Ed Murrow and writers like Arthur Miller with their gaze of irony on the American Dream.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, globalization was marketed as unbridled capitalism, breeding crony capitalism everywhere. The world has flinched from that world order. Brexit and Trump are a consequence. We are transiting from one world order to the other. Millions will view the transition with hope. Liberals should have these multitudes in their ken too.

(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)

Declassified docs: Soviet Penetration Program in India

An intelligence assessment report of the Central Intelligence Agency dated December 1985 gives an insight into the deep penetration the Soviets had in India during that time.

The agency’s document was declassified partially and a sanitized copy of it was approved for release in December 2011.

Here are some of the interesting insights from the document:

1. Through a wide range of overt and covert activities conducted during the last three decades, the Soviets have built up substantial influence capabilities in India…..we believe that Moscow has undertaken activities to penetrate virtually every sector of Indian society.

2. The Soviets enjoy nearly unfettered access to the pages of Indian newspapers, largely through the efforts of the Soviet Information Department……Moscow overtly and covertly placed more than 160,000 items (original articles plus replays) in the Indian press. Access to Press Trust of India, the largest English language news service, has become so automatic that some Soviet officials have come to call it “Press TASS of India”.

3. The Press Section of the Soviet Embassy in New Delhi is a KGB operation that specializes in fast-breaking disinformation campaigns, principally targeted against the United States.

4. Soviet Information Department in New Delhi covertly finances the publishing of books in India and distributes some 25 million magazine, book, and pamphlets a year.

5. Soviets are deeply involved in the Indian political process through covert contributions to the treasuries of political parties as well as to individual politicians. The Soviets direct most of their funds to the ruling Congress-I party. Moscow also funds several opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India/Marxist (CPI/M).

6. Soviets provide funding to Congress-I party coffers through kickback arrangements with Indian businesses. Although precise estimates of total Soviet funding are not available. Contributions are substantial.

7. Soviet funding reaches the two Communist parties, the CPI and the CPI/M through a combination of kickback schemes, normal business transactions, and direct cash payments. The Soviets have also devised several special methods to fund the CPI and its associated organizations.

The report also goes on to detail the Soviet funding mechanism of these political parties. It also lists a host of other activities that Soviets did to gain influence in India. Full report below:

Loading...

Ponzi schemes and alleged Sahara payoffs

BY ARUN AGRAWAL

I. Why is the Central Government Not Addressing the loss of 2 lakh crores in Ponzi Schemes incurred by ten crores depositors living at the Margin?

II. Why is Sahara the only Ponzi scheme that is still in business?

III. Why has SEBI refunded only Rs. 54.43 crores in four years to 11,956 depositors (Annual Report 15-16) when the amount deposited with SEBI is Rs. 14,000 crores and around 2.2 crores depositors were duped by Sahara?

IV. Are the Alleged Sahara payoffs entries true or are they being used to blackmail those at the helm?

V. Either way the allegation of corruption in the case of Sahara needs to be Investigated, more so when it is not true!

The author of the article, having failed in his attempt to intervene in the  Sahara case (Civil Appeal NO. 9813 and 9833 OF 2011) due to lack of locus, and having drafted the pending PIL (Writ Petition <Civil> 928 of 2013) filed by Humanity Salt Lake on Ponzi schemes with particular reference to Saradha and Rose Valley, has sufficiently researched the subject-matter to explain as to why the Ponzi schemes successfully flourished for so long, what was the nature of  violation of law, why paying protection money as bribes was a part of the business expenses, and most importantly why the ten crores marginal depositors who have lost two lakh crores will not recover their money in spite these companies having assets.

Amid the controversy of the Sahara payoffs and the arrest of TMC MPs, the question to be asked is not how much pay offs were made to whom for the “smooth functioning of the Ponzi scheme” (as stated by Enforcement Directorate) but is it because of these pay offs that the poor and hapless savers will never recover their life time savings aggregating 2 lakh crores? Do we, the relatively well off, not owe a duty to these ten crore poor to recover their 2 lakh crore money that has been illegally scammed? In most cases, it represents their entire life time savings. Forget the optics and the drama of demonetization and the enriching of each Indian through the black money stashed abroad, this was their own money dammit! (Pardon the language). Has there been a bigger scam in the land of scams? Does the nation have a conscience? But first the basics of the Ponzi scheme.

What is the Ponzi scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is one in which the deposits are actively solicited from the public through commission agents and as the current deposits received from the gullible public are far more than the payments to be made on past deposits, this excess deposit is treated by the promoters of the Ponzi scheme as their own money.

For example, in the case of PACL the deposits grew from Rs. 800 crores to more than Rs. 49,000 crores over a period of 12 years due to lack of oversight of the authorities and delays involving the Courts, and this Rs. 49,000 crores amount became the scam amount when the authorities were belatedly forced to put an end to the Ponzi scam. All the money was diverted by the promoters for personal use. The way the legal proceedings were delayed at various levels which in turn gave breathing space to PACL to grow their deposits phenomenally by thousands of crores is another scam, but then that is beside the point.

Why were these Ponzi scams successful in India?

The main reason for the Ponzi scheme being successful was the absence of the banking industry in rural areas and lack of financial inclusion for the low-income daily wage earners in urban areas along with the lack of oversight by the regulatory authorities. The Ponzi companies provided to the wage earner and the unbanked gullible poor depositor easy accessibility to para banking service with doorstep service provided by deposit agents of Ponzi companies.

This absence of easy accessibility to the banking industry led to the unscrupulous elements exploiting the opportunity by spreading their tentacles in every nook and corner of the country – villages and semi urban areas – by appointing deposit agents from the local community and paying them handsome commissions. It is significant to note the Ponzi companies did not flourish in the three Southern states where there was better administration and larger penetration of banks in the rural areas.

Number of people whose savings has been wiped out:

Most of the approximately 10 crores of low income people have lost their entire savings to these Ponzi companies. In the case of Sahara, the number involved is 2.2 crores and in the case of Pearl group the number of depositors is around 4.63 crores. There were other 300 large and small Ponzi companies like Rose Valley and Saradha, operating in the country in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Bihar which account for the remaining three crores of depositors.

Amount of money involved:

The largest Ponzi scam is not Sahara but the lesser known Pearl group of companies known as PACL. The amount involved for the Pearl group is Rs. 49,000 crores while the amount involved in Sahara group is over Rs. 30,000 crores. The Rose Valley scam is said to be a worth another Rs. 20,000 crores. If all the other Ponzi schemes and collective investment schemes numbering more than 300 are considered, the principal and the interest due, which has been misappropriated by these Ponzi companies, is around a staggering Rs. 2,00,000 crores.

Is it the largest and the worst money scam of the country?

Yes, it is. Around ten crore people have been cheated of their life-time savings aggregating 2 lakh crore. It is not the government but the poor who have been scammed. Does this country have a conscience and a Will to make amends? (Sorry, for sounding like a Gas-swami!)

Difference between Bank and Ponzi scheme:

The Ponzi schemes were operating like a bank without having any of the responsibilities and the safeguards that the banks have. They did not provide for SLR or CRR. They did not have to adhere to credit deposit ratio norms or to capital adequacy norms. Most important they were not subject to any lending norms let alone priority lending norms. There were neither subject to multiple rigorous audits. These companies were free to do whatever they liked with the deposit of the victims of the Ponzi scheme. Around 4% was paid to the deposit agents which was less than the salary bill of the Banks. The rest of the money was siphoned away as commissions, loans to sister companies and investment through benami companies. A small part was also spent on buying the silence of the powers that be.

What is the violation of law?

All these companies which are in the business of misappropriating the savings of the marginal saver are in breach of section 3 of the Company Deposit Rules 1975 made under section 58 A of the Companies Act which prohibits all companies from accepting deposits which are unsecured instruments (debentures or otherwise) for more than 10% of their net worth. The law has a rationale in that an entity should not borrow beyond its capacity to repay and innocent savers should not be exploited by unscrupulous elements. The Rules were framed in 1975.

Violation of 80 to 1600 times the permissible limit went unnoticed by ROC and Serious Fraud Department:

The omission on part of the law enforcers to enforce the law, lies at the root of the scam and companies have been allowed to collect deposits 80 to 1600 times the permissible limits. This omission was deliberate and the concerned officers are far more accountable than the politicians belonging to  Trinamool Congress.

In the case of one Sahara group company, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL), the balance sheet of the Company for the year ended 30/6/11 shows the paid up capital and reserves of Rs. 2,325 crores. Hence the permissible limit for the company was Rs. 230 crores. However, deposits of Rs. 19,000 crores were raised as unsecured debenture. This deposit exceeds the limit by a whopping Rs. 18,770 crores which is more than 80 times the permissible limit.

In the case of PACL, the Company’s balance sheet for the year ending 31/03/2011 shows Rs. 235,508,150,280 as costumer advance. This money is nothing but unsecured deposit though called customer advance. According to the same balance sheet the paid up capital of the company on 31/3/11 was Rs. 40.1 crores and reserve & surplus was Rs 117.4 crores. Thus the total paid up capital plus reserve capital was Rs 157.6 crores only and the company was permitted to accept deposits of Rs. 16 crore only. The company PACL India Ltd. had collected/accepted the deposit to the tune of rupees Rs. 23,550 crores. This permissible limit of 10% under the Act has been exceeded by more than 1600 times.

This violation was going on for decades and yet the ROCs, Income Tax, RBI and SEBI did not act.

Had it not been for the WTM of SEBI and Hon’ble justice J S Khehar (as he was then) the scam would not have been brought out in the open. Both were criticized for their brave acts. The former by Sahara and the SEBI chief U K Sinha and the latter by Sahara lawyers which led to his recusing himself from hearing the matter further. (‘Should we be hearing this case,’ the opening famous lines of the 207-page judgment). In fact, he had reportedly directed the Registry not to put any matter related to Sahara before him! (Legal India 15/5/14)

Criminal Liability under Companies Act

Under 58-A (6) (b) of the Companies Act (old) if the overall collection of deposit beyond the permissible limit is punishable by five years’ imprisonment. Why has this clause not been enforced against any of the Ponzi companies? This shows that the government is complicit in allowing these Ponzi companies to cheat the 10 crore marginal depositors.

Why despite the bribes, commissions, diversion of funds abroad there are sufficient assets to pay back the depositors.

In most cases after diverting the cash for the purpose mentioned above, around 50% of the money was invested in land, real estate, hotels, and real estate development etc. These appreciated over a period of time and made up for the losses incurred in bribes, commissions, investments abroad and lavish lifestyle. Thus, there is sufficient asset to pay back the hapless depositor as the assets can be easily traced. However, it is more important to identify the depositors.

Protection money part of expenses is paid to continue the fraud

The entire Ponzi business is based on continuing the fraud of misappropriating the hard-earned deposits of the marginalised sections of society. If the violations of laws are grave, then so are the earnings. It is money for jam as crores of money are collected each day without any concern that the amount is to be returned.

Paying protection money to politicians, political parties and bureaucracy is a part of expense of the Ponzi business so that their activities are not inquired into. This protection money is a legitimate expense of an illegitimate business. It is for this reason that these Ponzi schemes have continued for decades and would have continued for a longer period had it not been for the honesty and the courage of Dr KM Abraham, erstwhile member of SEBI who wrote the Sahara order and Hon’ble Justice J S Khehar (as he was then) who upheld the order and how! However, neither of them went into the violation of the Companies Act as the same was not the issue before them.

Are the entries of bribes in Sahara computer/records true?

As stated above donations to political parties is protection money for all the Ponzi companies. It is routine. After all what is Rs. 100 crores when the deposit base is over Rs. 30,000 crores. Peanuts! But whether the amount alleged to have been paid to then Gujarat Chief Minister was a future investment or was a blackmailing entry is a different matter.

It is not a coincidence that most of the big Ponzi operators are also in the media business and involved in sponsoring sports? The former gives them blackmailing power and the latter is an advertising expense. They are also large advertisers in the media and buy their silence. At least Sahara was and continues to be.

Sahara, the only Ponzi still in business

Despite the Sahara Chief having spent substantial period in prison, it is the only Ponzi company that is carrying on business as usual by metaphorizing its business model, as rightly predicted by Dr K M Abraham of SEBI while alerting other regulators in his order. The following quote of a newspaper report from the order of SEBI has come true: ‘Sahara agents will now peddle several new investment schemes to raise money under the name Sahara Credit Co-Operative Society. The society has its headquarters and registered office in Sahara India Bhawan, Lucknow, where most Sahara group entities are based.’

Its insurance and its media businesses are intact, a large part of the deposits having been converted into co-operative deposit. It is business as usual.

Meagre amounts of Rs. 55 crores from Rs. 14,000 crores paid to depositors by SEBI in the Sahara Scam:

The Apex Court in 2012 had ordered the refund of the scammed money to the depositors and for SEBI to supervise it. It also appointed a former Justice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to oversee the refund. What happened? In spite of SEBI receiving Rs. 14,000 crores (with interest on money deposited), only 11596 depositors out of 2.2 crore depositors have received Rs. 54.43 crores (refer SEBI annual report for 15-16) out of this Rs. 14,000 crores in last 4 years.

The low refund figure is because SEBI wants immaculate documentary proof from the illiterate gullible depositors. These were never given to the duped depositor! If the illiterate investor could prove his identity and the deposit would he be depositing his money with Sahara?

At another level one suspects that SEBI chief too is hand in glove with the promoters of Sahara (Refer to the letter written by the then WTM of SEBI, who wrote the Sahara order, to the then PM) and is out to reinforce Sahara’s contention that they have paid the depositors!

Allegations of bribes paid to the Prime Minister:

While there is much in what the Hon’ble CJI says that no document of Sahara can be trusted as there are very few who would know more about the character of Sahara than he does. After all, he had spent months hearing their lawyers before recusing himself!

But then that precisely is the point and why the allegation based on documents should be investigated. Not because they may or may not be true but because the good name of the Prime Minister needs to be cleared in a scam involving a company which is the mother of all scams. Why should the name of the PM be sullied by Sahara?

The fact that Sahara is the only functioning Ponzi scheme, the fact that its insurance and media businesses are flourishing, the fact that its assets are intact and no one is bidding for it, the fact that refunds of only Rs. 55 crores to 12,000 out of 2.3 crore depositors have been made in four years by SEBI, the fact that CBI has not arrested a single politician in this flourishing Ponzi scam, the fact that the neither the Serious Fraud Office not the Registrar of Companies have applied section 3 of the Deposit Rules and taken action under section 58 A (6) (b) of the old Companies Act providing for 5 years imprisonment and more recently the fact that the Settlement Commission has passed a very lenient order strikes at the very credibility of various institutions, shows that Sahara continues to be a favoured group.

Surely the impression that these failures of various government agencies are because of Sahara having falsified documents to falsely implicate the Prime Minister needs to be brought out in the open as the institution and the office of the Prime Minister is far more important than a powerful Ponzi company out to destroy the credibility of the Prime Minister.

Use 120B and 420 of the IPC against the deposit agents and the employees of the Ponzi scheme for refunding the depositor’s money:

The Prime Minister, however, having been accused by a Ponzi company needs to address the much larger tragedy relating to the ten crore marginal depositors losing Rs 2 lakh crores to the Ponzi companies.

Sections 120B and 420 of the IPC has been invoked by the CBI in all the cases of arrest of politicians of TMC, but not against the deposit agents.

It is a fact that accurate details of the depositor’s identity were not recorded and adequate proof of having received deposits were not given by the deposit agents. Most the depositors were gullible illiterate depositors. The agents forced the depositors to renew their deposits or made them do the rounds before refunding a discounted amount.

The Ponzi operators, in turn, never intended to return the bulk of the deposits and therefore found it convenient not to keep proper records so that they could deny the claims of the depositors. It is precisely this trap of the Ponzi operator and the colluding deposit agents that has led to the meagre refund of 55 crores out of Rs. 40,000 crores held by SEBI in the case of Sahara. In the case of PACL, SEBI in its order has abdicated the responsibility of making the refund and left it to the company!

The deposit agents fearing the wrath of the depositors, have united and formed an association to align themselves with the efforts of the depositors to get the refund. There are reports of their getting backdoor entry into the pending PIL referred to above and assuring the depositors that the PIL will get them their refund. Sadly, the present status of the PIL is on implementing future reforms, as suggested by SEBI, to prevent future scams. There is absolutely no concern in the PIL for evolving effective strategies for refunding the money to the depositors who have been duped.

The depositors can be identified by the deposit agents alone. And it is for this reason that section 120B and section 420 should be invoked against them at the district level and the name and the identity of the depositors should be obtained and tallied with the amounts remitted by the deposit agents. It is totally impractical to expect that the semi-literate depositors can approach SEBI and comply with their rigorous procedure to prove their deposit and claim refund.

In fact, the Odissa government has taken the lead in identifying the depositors duped by Ponzi firm Rose Valley Group of Companies to make way for refund of their money. They have passed the Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, 2011. In May 2016, the additional district magistrate (ADM), Cuttack, Bibhuti Bhusan Das, issued a notification in different newspapers for identification of duped depositors with a warning of prosecution against those who make false claims. This model along with invoking section 420 against the deposit agents is the only way in which the duped depositors can be identified and paid back their deposits from the seized benami assets of the Ponzi operators. Once behind bars under section 58A of the Companies Act these Ponzi operators will sing like a canary and identify all their assets.

We as a nation owe it as a duty to these hapless ten crore depositors who have lost their life time savings thanks to these Ponzi operators who have bribed their way to immunity.

Will the Prime Minister stand up for these ten crore marginalised Indians and clear his name in the only Ponzi scheme that continues to flourish and in which he is shown to have been paid Rs 55. crores?

The author wants to make it clear that he is not accusing the Prime Minister of having received the bribes but certainly supports investigations on Sahara having allegedly paid bribes in view of the overwhelming circumstantial evidence of the favourable treatment given by various government agencies.

In conclusion, the good name of the Prime Minister needs to be cleared from being associated with these scammers and justice done to the 10 crore marginal depositors who have lost two lakh crores.

(Arun Agrawal is the author of the book Reliance: The Real Natwar. 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)

Indians against India

BY RSN SINGH

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Historically, Kolkata has been the prime impetus of the freedom movement and the cultural renaissance of India. People who sacrificed and suffered most physically and mentally for liberation of India were from West Bengal. They did not necessarily belong to a political party. In fact the non-violent struggle of the Congress for freedom would have been baseless and without context if the aggressive struggle of the Bengalis had not preceded. Without demur they let the Congress’s passive philosophy eclipse them. The motherland was their only motivation. A visit to the cellular jail in Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands is testimony to the sacrifice of the people the state. About 80 percent of the names that the jail walls bear were from West Bengal and overwhelmingly from Kolkata.

It is a tragic commentary that in same Kolkata, in brazen deference to the jihadi groups and the ISI, a seminar on ‘Kashmir and Balochistan’ was not allowed.

Post-independence, for nearly four decades now, nationalism made a wild oscillations towards anti-nationalism in West Bengal. There was a very powerful segment of Communists in Kolkata, who during the 1962 war were preparing for the welcome of Chinese. Later a Communist Chief Minister when asked about the unbridled demographic assault from Bangladesh to India had commented that he does not distinguish between the ‘proletariat’ of India and Bangladesh. This Chief Minister was essentially guided by the internationalist Communist ideology, which is foreign to India. Somewhere down the line, the demographic assault in India from Bangladesh acquired jihadi overtones. To be precise, it began in the beginning of 80s following the commencement of war in Afghanistan between Communist Soviet Union and Jihadis. The narrative of this grand finale of the Cold War was ‘Islam versus Communism’.

It is no coincidence that during this period both Pakistan and Bangladesh had rulers who provided huge rather irrevocable impetus to Jihad. Pakistan was taken over by Zia-ul-Haq and Bangladesh subsequently by Zia-ur-Rahman and Hussain Muhammad Ershad. It is also no coincidence that these three characters in the two countries belonged to the Army and had tenures running nearly parallel, i.e. Zia-ul-Haq (1978-88), Zia-ur-Rahman (1977-1981), Ershad (1982-1990). This significantly was the period of the war in Afghanistan. Also significantly both Zia-ul-Haq and Zia-ur-Rahman died under most mysterious circumstances. Dislodging regimes by manipulating assassinations was very much practiced during the Cold War.

The jihad that we witness impacting from India and Bangladesh began in that period. It was an alien ideology to India. West Bengal has been brutalized by both these imported and alien ideologies i.e. communism and jihad. Consequently, the nationalist constituency in the state has also been brutalized and subjugated. The current dispensation in the state had achieved the feat of dislodging the three decade long Communist rule, which many considered impossible, but it was not without the indulgence of both ultra-leftist (Maoists) and the jihadis of West Bengal and Bangladesh.

It was therefore not at all surprising that a seminar on ‘Kashmir and Balochistan’ slated in Kolkata few days back could not be held. Amongst the participants were reputed Kashmir hands: Maj Gen (Retired) GD Bakshi, Lt Gen (Retired) Ata Hasnain, Sushil Pandit and Balochistan expert Tarek Fateh. The tactic adopted to derail the said event was novel, in that it was officially denied that there was any hindrance, but the organizers were warned against it in no uncertain terms. First, it was indirectly conveyed that Kashmir could not be discussed, accordingly to save embarrassment to guests ‘Kashmir’ was dropped as title. Later, it was conveyed that Balochistan too cannot be discussed and least of all by Tarek Fateh.

The Balochistan issue has acquired unprecedented momentum nationally and internationally after Prime Minister Modi declared his renewed support from the ramparts of the Red Fort. The jihadis do not consider the Balochis as true Muslims. They also feel that the Balochistan issue has a dampening effect on the jihadi discourse in Kashmir. While the Baloch issue is being extensively debated all over India and on television channels, it is only in West Bengal that the jihadi organizations and Pakistan’s ISI could threaten the state government and ensure that no seminar espousing the cause of Balochistan or emotional integration of the Kashmir Valley of India is ever held. As far as Tarek Fateh is concerned, his interpretation of Islamic history has hardly been disputed. What has hurt the jihadis is that his interpretation, an Indian interpretation, insists on centripetal rather than centrifugal forces, meaning which that an Indian Muslim is different from an Arab Muslim or an Afghani Muslim in terms of DNA and culture. His DNA is Indian. DNA is scientific truth. There is however no place for scientific truth in today’s West Bengal.

This is not the first time that Kashmir has reverberated in West Bengal. It may be remembered that recently when the Kashmir separatism had joined hands with the Maoists in JNU, the Jadavpur University in West Bengal, erupted in unison. In fact, there was a sort of competition between the two, as to who can be more virulent in abusing India and the nationalist forces. This again is not incidental. A source has confided with this author that one of the Pakistan Embassy Official Mudassir Cheema, who was expelled from India in 2016 for spying activities, in an informal gathering in Karachi had declared his plans to bring Kashmir separatism to Delhi and other parts of the country by conflating it with Maoism. This Pakistani official was for some time not aware of the presence of this Indian source.

The jihadi slogans in Jadavpur University, calling for separation of Kashmir and splintering of India cannot happen without an indulgent political dispensation. What JNU and Jadavpur underscored was the pan-Indian or rather the sub-continental nature of jihad. For the benefactors and the people wedded to this ideology, the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh border is incidental. It is the political funding, vote-banks and muscle power-banks that make the politicians beholden to the jihadi organizations.

It is now well documented that most of the jihadi organizations like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) have relocated into West Bengal after crackdown by the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh. The JMB, which has links with Al Qaeda as well as ISIS, is now thriving under the current dispensation in the state. Sheikh Hasina may have hanged several Jammat-e-Islami (JeI) leaders for their war crimes during the liberation struggle of Bangladesh, but they have found bigger patron in the dispensation of West Bengal. In March 2013, the JeI held a massive rally and decried India for the liberation of Bangladesh. Pro-Pakistan slogans were raised during the rally. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, JeI had openly come out in support of the ruling party in the state.

The JeI in Bangladesh is touted as an economy within economy. It runs banks, insurance companies, shopping malls, and other profitable institutes within the country. Allegedly with the crack-down in Bangladesh, the dispensation in West Bengal has been clearly a major beneficiary. In fact, the relationship developed before the elections. In run-up to the Assembly Elections in 2011, the JMB, having its citadel in North-West Bangladesh provided the muscle power. The JMB, which had to contend with the leftists in North-West Bangladesh had strategic reasons for the partnership. As pay back the current dispensation provided bases to the jihadi organizations.

Much of the jihadi industry in West Bengal and Bangladesh thrives on liberal doses of funding from Islamic countries in West Asia, particularly the Wahabis. Also part of the jihadi economy was the huge fake currency network of which West Bengal was a part. It was in the border areas of West Bengal that fake currency was brought from Pakistan and sold to highest bidder. The rates varied from Rs. 20,000 genuine currency for Rs. 1,00,000 of fake currency to Rs. 40,000 for Rs. 1,00,000. This coupled with cattle smuggling was a bonanza for political funding in the state. It was for this reason that political leaders in West Bengal were behaving like zombies when demonetization struck them.

If jihadi terrorism were to be mapped, it would clearly occur that in the entire terror network West Bengal and Bangladesh are the key. While jihadis are identified, indoctrinated and recruited from the north, south, east and west of India, their movement to Pakistan on fake passports is from West Bengal to Bangladesh to Dubai/Saudi Arabia to Pakistan’s Punjab, and finally to training camps in PoK. The journey back is also through the same route. On arrival back in Bangladesh, the jihadis are provided RDX and weapons like AK-47s. Insinuations therefore about imagined Hindu terrorists procuring RDX from Kashmir for Malegaon blasts in 2006 and 2008, as also Samjhauta Express is the poor brainchild of one of India’s biggest English speaking crook who rose to become an influential minister in the UPA government.

For the jihadi network, the territory of Bangladesh is critical as 4,096 km long boundary with India impacts on five states, i.e. Assam (262 km), Tripura (856 km), Mizoram (180 km), Meghalaya (443), and Bengal (2,217 km). In this long Indo-Bangladesh border, West Bengal has an overwhelming share, nevertheless it is this segment of the border that has played havoc with India’s security.

For the moment, one extenuating factor is that Bangladesh and West Bengal regimes are not in consonance with regard to the jihadi agenda. If ever ‘consonance’ becomes a reality, the consequences will be pernicious for India. It is ironical that the governance agenda of the leader of a foreign state is contributing in no small measure to the security of India, but a federal leader of an Indian State is hell-bent on neutralizing all the gains.

This classic example questions the ability of the present nature of Indian democracy and federal setup in meeting security challenges if the federal unit gets subverted and becomes inimical to India. With one new party funded by the ISI is aspiring to rule another border state Punjab. If it becomes a reality, the number of ISI and jihadi backed dispensations in border states would have gone up to three. Hence, the cancellation of seminar on ’Kashmir and Balochistan’ in Kolkata is no small development. It stares at the very integrity of India.

(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)

The Malegaon Mystery and its Big Little Lies – Part 1

BY VK SHASHIKUMAR

This series by veteran investigative journalist, VK Shashikumar, will raise questions on the law enforcement’s investigation of Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit’s alleged involvement in the 2008 Malegaon terrorist bomb attack case. It will bring into public focus new documents unravelling a disturbing plot to severely undermine the apolitical institutional stature of the Indian Army and the morale of its soldiers and officers.

The Abhinav Bharat Plot

In January 2008 the United Progressive Alliance government led by the Congress Party & the then Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor and the entire Army Chain of Command from the Southern Command Headquarters, Pune to Army Head Quarters, Delhi were presumably aware of the activities of ‘Abhinav Bharat’ and Sudhakar Chaturvedi – Charge Sheeted Accused in Case No. RC – 05/2011/NIA/DLI.

“Photocopy of two pages discreetly recovered from the notepad of Mr. Sudharkar Chaturvedi @Chanakya who is one of the most active members of the group (Abhinav Bharat)…The group is an extremist neo Hindu fundamentalist group with an aim to unite all Hindus and build a pan Hindu identity to establish a new nation order based on principles of Veda” – Confidential Report of 3 Det SCLU, C/0 56 APO

Nine months before the Malegaon improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on September 29, 2008 the Southern Command of the Indian Army and the Army Headquarters received a top-secret confidential memo titled “Hindu Org: Abhinav Bharat”. On 16 January 2008 the 3 Detachment of the Southern Command Liaison Unit (SCLU), Devlali near Nashik, dispatched a letter “Det Letter No. 3073/LU/G”. The content of this letter as a photocopy annexure along with fresh intelligence inputs was dispatched again on October 24, 2008 within a month of the Malegaon blast.

The confidential military intelligence reports in January 2008 and October 2008 attached specific annexures, recovered from covert intelligence operations, including literature on a “Hindu org christened as Abhinav Bharat.”

Here’s an excerpt from the top-secret intelligence briefing:

“It is intimated that a group of self-proclaimed patriots joined hands at the Raigadh Fort in Raigadh, Maharashtra on 12 June 06 to start a movement through an org called Abhinav Bharat to improve the social, economical and security aspects of the nation. Details on the following aspects of Abhinav Bharat are attached as Appx ‘A’”

The confidential memo then goes on to describe in detail the background, founding principles, constitution, rules, agenda of the organization and its plans to build a Hindu Rashtra. The confidential intelligence report dispatched to Southern Command HQ and Army HQ clearly indicates that the 3 Det SCLU had very effectively penetrated Abhinav Bharat through covert operations and was generating actionable intelligence literally from the horse’s mouth.

So, who was this first-hand primary source from whom the 3 Det SCLU was gleaning so much information on the activities of Abhinav Bharat and its links with other Hindu Right Wing extremist organizations?

The primary source of Devlali based military intelligence unit – 3 Det SCLU – was none other than Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who according to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was the national coordinator of Abhinav Bharat and has allegedly admitted to his role in staging the Malegaon terror attack. This is evident in the top secret intelligence briefing titled – “Hindu Org: Abhinav Bharat”.

In fact, it’s not just this intelligence report that the 3 Det SCLU generated. So deep and professional was this unit’s covert penetration and embedment with Hindu Right Wing groups that it was generating copious amounts of actionable intelligence much before the Malegaon IED blasts. Every piece of intelligence this unit generated was regularly sent up the chain of command to Army HQ. Is it conceivable that the then Army Chief, Deepak Kapoor, UPA Defence Minister AK Antony and the Congress Party top brass (given that Sonia Gandhi as Party President was pro-actively involved in UPA I & II governance matters) were completely unaware of these reports?

If the military intelligence reports of 2008 did not reach the key decision makers in the Army HQ and UPA Government then it would point towards significant dereliction of duty, breach in the chain of command and abnegation of the civil – military systemic procedures regarding processing of intelligence information. But if the UPA government was aware of intelligence reports on the Hindu fundamentalist organization, Abhinav Bharat, several months ahead of the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blasts, then why wasn’t any pre-emptive law enforcement action initiated against an organization whose activities were already under the scanner?

In fact, the intelligence reports from January 2008 indicate that till the Malegaon blasts in September 2008, Abhinav Bharat had managed to keep a low profile, even though there were worrying signs – like increasing membership across several states within few months and involvement of “certain elements associated with the def forces”.

But what if the UPA government knew about these intelligence reports in 2008 but did not take cognizance of it? Clearly, only those serving in the Union Government at that time can authenticate whether decision makers knew about these reports or not. But the explosive truth contained in the intelligence files of the Army HQ is a matter of record and cannot be whitewashed. Given the nature of intelligence unearthed by 3 Det SCLU it’s extremely hard to ignore the fact that this was the unit in which Lt Col Purohit served!

Therefore, it’s instructive to note the content of the October 24, 2008 intelligence briefing on Abhinav Bharat, which also recapped the briefing of January 16, 2008.

“A hard copy of Microsoft Powerpoint Ppt highlighting the aims, ideologies of the org and their justification which is circulated amongst the members is att as Appx ‘D’. The slide on ‘Action Plan’ needs close scrutiny. The orgn was initially planning to launch a political party in Jan 2008. However, although the conf for the same was org in Delhi, the agenda of pol party was dissolved. The reasons for the same are not known…Any involvement of the org in extremist activities is not est till date. However, it has been reliably learnt that the membership of this org has increased manifold in the recent past. The members have affiliation with Hindu extremist groups also…The ideology of the orgn is also being supported by certain elements associated with the def forces, which is a cause of concern. Ref Appx ‘J’ att.”

The military intelligence reported increase in the membership of Abhinav Bharat from the following states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP, MP, Haryana and Delhi. So how could the entire intelligence establishment under the UPA government completely miss acting on such explosive intelligence?

However, before exploring the above question on the basis of facts available at this point in time it is equally important to ask other questions – first, how did the 3 Det SCLU get such critical first-hand information, which otherwise would have been the preserve of the Intelligence Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs and second, who set up the covert operations of 3 Det SCLU to penetrate fundamentalists right wing groups, create “int assets” (primary sources) and glean high quality actionable intelligence?

The answers are available in the Army’s Court of Inquiry report against Lt Col Purohit. On April 13, 2009 the Army instituted a Court of Inquiry (CoI) against Lt Col Purohit, who was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS on November 5, 2008 for his alleged complicity in the Malegaon terror attack on September 29, 2008.

Sixty Army officers testified in the CoI. Except Col RK Srivastav, all the other 59 officers testified in favour of Lt Col Purohit. Col Srivastav’s negative testimony was anyway a foregone conclusion because he was specially and specifically deployed from the Army HQ in 2008 to surreptitiously detain, illegally interrogate and fraudulently hand over Lt Col Purohit to Maharashtra ATS. This is another disturbing story and will feature later in ‘The Malegaon Mystery and its Big Little Lies’ series. For now it is important to focus on the Army’s CoI report on Lt Col Purohit.

All the 59 Army witnesses in the CoI testified that Lt Col Purohit was a competent intelligence officer who excelled in field operations. They affirmed that one of the sources he had cultivated was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, national coordinator of Abhinav Bharat, who is an accused in the Malegaon blast. They testified that Sudhakar helped Lt Col Purohit to infiltrate Abhinav Bharat and other Hindu right wing fundamentalist groups. When the Malegaon blast happened, Purohit was attending a course on learning Arabic language at the Army Education Corps Training College and Centre at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.

Here are some snapshots from the recorded statements of Army officers submitted in the Court of Inquiry:

  • Col Hasmuk Patel, then Commanding Officer of Southern Command Liaison Unit wrote in Purohit’s ACR in 2007: “The Officer has infiltrated the SIMI and other underground outfits in the region through his capabilities and go getter attitude.”
  • Col. YK Singh in 2008: “He (Purohit) provided valuable int on Tabliq-e-jamal and MFO (Muslim Fundamentalist Organisations) activities which were appreciated by environment. He developed on effective informant network in AOR which led to acquisition of Naxal propaganda and terrorist activities.”
  • Col VS Tomar: “Although I have not known you on a personal level, yet by my interactions with officers of varied seniority with the Intelligence Corps, I came to know that you were a motivated, daring and good field intelligence officer. However some people did mention that at times you had a negative trait of boasting for gaining audience.”
  • Lt. Col. SS Raikar (retd): “I do not believe that Lt. Col. Purohit has been involved in any anti-social or anti-national activity which will bring disrepute to the country in general and the Indian army in particular.”

In the context of the revelations contained in the confidential military intelligence memo dated October 24, 2008 it is beyond doubt that the intelligence network of ‘3 Det SCLU’ in its Area of Responsibility set up by Lt Col Purohit was generating massive amounts of intelligence on Abhinav Bharat. It is also clear that Sudhakar Chaturvedi, an accused in the Malegaon blast, was a primary source of intelligence cultivated by Lt Col Purohit which enabled further penetration into other Hindu Right Wing groups. All of this information was being processed at the unit level, documented and regularly dispatched up the chain of command. It is clear from the testimony of Army officers under whose command Lt Col Purohit worked held him in high esteem and was aware of his covert operations. It is also clear that he had high level clearance and was mandated to conduct covert operations to penetrate into groups like Abhinav Bharat.

Lt Col Purohit told the Court of Inquiry: “I must make a mention here that out of the vast int (intelligence) network development by me with great efforts I came to know about the likely involvement of some Right Wing leaders in anti-national activities. The inputs received on 12 October 2008 were immediately fwd (forwarded) to then CO (commanding Officer) SCLU (Southern Command Liaison Unit) Col Panchpore.” This was subsequently confirmed by Col Panchpore in his statement before the CoI.

How is it possible that the person whose covert intelligence operations generated significant actionable intelligence on Abhinav Bharat nine months before the Malegaon blasts of September 29, 2008 suddenly find himself to be a co-conspirator of a terror attack? The Maharashtra ATS claimed he was a Trustee of Abhinav Bharat, which was suspected to be involved in planning and execution of the bomb blasts. In April 2011, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case from Maharashtra ATS. Five years later, on May 13, 2016 NIA filed a charge sheet against 10 accused, including Lt Col Purohit who was booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code and Explosives Substances Act. But why hasn’t the NIA investigated the intelligence briefings sent by 3 Det SCLU and what action was taken on these briefings by the UPA Government and Army HQ?

For the past 8 years as a pre-trial detainee under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA), Lt Col Purohit consistently repudiated the charge of the Maharashtra ATS that he was the alleged “mastermind” of the Malegaon bomb blasts. He has consistently held his ground that as an intelligence officer he was tasked to infiltrate “Hindu Right Wing” extremist groups and he accomplished his mandated task as a professional intelligence officer is expected to do. He has maintained all along, since his arrest, that he was only doing his job as mandated and approved by his superiors in the Army’s institutional chain of command.

All the questions raised above are embedded in a landscape fraught with moral, legal and operational perils. Lt Col Purohit’s story is uncannily similar to a fictional CIA agent featured in Alex Berenson’s novel ‘The Midnight House’ in which the agent converts to Islam to infiltrate the Taliban. The moral limits of such covert operations guided by larger political motives and objectives are hazy. An intelligence operative on the ground is unaware of political machinations and expediencies which are always disturbingly outside the public gaze. Lt Col Purohit’s real life story throws up this conundrum – Are there moral limits that those mandated with gathering intelligence dare not cross?

Was Lt Col Purohit set-up as a pawn in a political game of thrones and exploited by the political establishment, supported by a malleable, pliant Army leadership in 2008?

(VK Shashikumar is an investigative journalist and a strategist. 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)

Kashmir consigned to global jihad

BY RSN SINGH

The hide and seek judicial affair with respect to Masarat Alam in his long career of militancy is a sad commentary on the will and preparedness of the state of J&K to fight Pakistan’s proxy war. This kind of asymmetric war can only persist with proxies within India like Masarat Alam. Such Pakistani proxies abound not only in J&K but in many other parts of India.

There is no gain advocating, an Osama type operation on Hafiz Saeed or Mullah Mansoor Azhar, if the state is seen weak in handling the proxies within the country. The institutional weakness in dealing with these proxies is because the Pakistan’s ISI has subverted every organ of the state.

The perverseness of subversion was very much in evidence when Yakub Memon was counting minutes before his hanging. More than 15 agencies were hired to leverage various organs of the state. The midnight drama that resulted from this leveraging has left an indelible blot on the seriousness of the Indian State in fighting Pak sponsored proxy war. It also gives credence to insinuations about the involvement of people in Lutyens’ Delhi in promoting different brands of terror for political ends. One such promotion allegedly was by way of 26/11, nevertheless this project of creating ‘Hindu Terror’ was destroyed by the apprehension of Ajmal Kasab.

The moot question is: what is the difference between likes of Ajmal Kasab and Masarat Alam? Both are jihadis, both are indoctrinated in the same jihadi philosophy, both are connected to the global jihadi network, both are engaged in the destruction of India, and both are guided by the same leadership ensconced in Pakistan.

Masarat Alam supported the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Soon after he raised slogans in Srinagar, “Hafiz Saeed ka kya paigam, Kashmir Banega Pakistan” (What is the message from Hafiz Saeed, that Kashmir will become Pakistan). In April 2015, Masarat Alam unfurled Pakistan flag in Srinagar and chanted pro-Pak slogans to greet his mentor Geelani. During the same period, Hafiz Saeed held a rally in Lahore in support of Masarat Alam.

Why therefore persist with the word ‘separatist’ in respect of militants of Masarat Alam’s ilk, when it is actually a euphemism for pro-Pakistan. Just as Hafiz Saeed is India’s enemy so should be Masarat Alams and Geelanis. Both Geelani and Masarat Alam forfeited their moral claims to constitutional rights long ago when they decided to wage war against India.

Masarat Alam actually symbolizes militancy in Kashmir. The beginning of his militant career coincides with the onset of jihad in the Valley, post 1989. This was the year when the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan embarked on jihadi war in Kashmir after conclusion of Islamic war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. It cost Pakistan nothing, as the ISI was flush with funds and weapons provided by USA and Saudi Arabia. There were nearly 300 jihadi groups to begin with, who were indoctrinated, trained and equipped at Ojhri camp located 10 km from Islamabad. This 80-acre facility was the training and logistic base for all Pakistani and international jihadi groups. Post 1989, the jihadi orientation of these groups towards India heralded militancy in the Valley. Therefore there is nothing indigenous about the Kashmir militancy. It has a geopolitical context rather than any internal facets.

Heini G. Kiessling in his book ‘The ISI of Pakistan’ says:

“From 1988, the ISI began to organize training camps for young militants from the Valley. At the beginning their partner was the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), who were responsible for recruiting the fighters, while the ISI delivered training and equipment. Funding came from the Gulf region and the drug trade, and donations were collected in the mosques of Pakistan, US and Western Europe. All this ensured the requirement and training of new young volunteers and the deployment of battle-hardened mujahideen from Afghanistan. The recruits came mainly from Punjab and NWFP, but young Muslims were also enlisted from abroad. The training camps for the volunteers from Jammu and Kashmir were located in Azad Kashmir (POK), close to the LoC; the camps for the Pakistanis and the foreigners were in Punjab and NWFP.”

Further about Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Kiessling says that both organizations grew rapidly and were extremely successful in recruitment and suicide assassinations. The JeM, he says, also had links to Al Qaeda.

The LeT is also known to have strong links with the Al Qaeda, as consequent to Operation Enduring Freedom by the US and the allies, many of the Al Qaeda cadres joined the LeT.

A majority of the attacks in the Valley has been perpetrated by these two organizations. It is the global jihad therefore which has been impacting J&K.

Masarat Alam or Geelani are Pakistani agents engaged in the business of global jihad. Hence, any concessions to them amounts to providing impetus to this world wide menace. Masarat Alam was arrested in April 2015 under the Public Security Act of J&K. The Act itself, as far as militancy is concerned, is a misnomer because it is not just the public security that militants are vitiating but their terrorism has impact on jihadi discourse not only in the Valley but entire India. Most jihadi terrorist attacks in India have their umbilical to Kashmir, which includes 26/11.

It is criminal for the Indian State that an incorrigible militant like Masarat Alam, who has undergone nine detentions since 1989 and carried a bounty of Rs.15 lacs, should endemically be given benefit of doubt as though he was an ordinary criminal. Masarat Alam, it may be reiterated, not only heralded jihadi militancy in Kashmir but is also the progenitor of the stone pelting industry in the Valley, which he assiduously assembled in 2010. He is the one who programmed and calibrated ‘war of stones’ in the Valley. Arguably, the stone-pelting industry has taken a big hit by demonetization.

A very important question then arises, as to why the Valley, which constitutes just about eight percent of the total area of J&K, should be allowed to destabilize the entire country. Professor Hari Om, a resident of the Jammu region, in his book ‘Beyond the Kashmir Valley’ emphasizes that the highest per capita consumption of meat in the world is in the Kashmir Valley, not one Kashmiri has died of hunger and cold, and there is no Kashmiri without roof. As per NDTV report ‘Kashmir eats 51,000 tons of mutton a year’ dated 27 July 2011: “About 85 per cent of Kashmiris eat non-vegetarian fare – but exactly how much? Official statistics say Jammu and Kashmir annually consumes a whopping 51,000 tonnes of mutton worth Rs.12.06 billion (over Rs.1,200 crore), of which 21,000 tonnes is imported from outside. “The 21,000 tonnes is in addition to 30,000 tonnes of mutton produced locally and costing Rs.7.02 billion (Rs.702 crore) which also goes into the local consumption each year,” a senior official of the animal husbandry department here told IANS.”

It can thus be averred that jihadi militancy in Kashmir is mainly spurred by a thriving local economy subsidized by India and the Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia. The Saudi brand of Islam, i.e. Wahhabism, has spread in the Valley purely on the strength of money. It is this brand of Islam that has proliferated and is providing a rich-harvest of jihadis. A video by one Maulana Mushtaq Veeri has been viral in the Valley. It dwells on Salafi mission in Kashmir and emphatically proclaims that it will soon establish a Salafi dispensation in the State. Salafi mosques have proliferated in the Valley, and infuse youth with perverted version of world events.

The jihadis militancy in the Valley must be viewed from the prism of geopolitics, i.e. the global jihadi discourse, territorial ambition of Pakistan, and strategic imperatives of powers like China. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has imparted a new Chinese strategic imperative to the region of J&K. Gilgit-Baltistan, which India considers as an occupied territory, is critical for CPEC. The waving of Chinese flags in Srinagar after Friday prayers is therefore not incidental. Masarat Alams, Geelanis, Masood Azhars and Hafiz Saeeds are solidly behind China for various reasons as far as the CPEC goes. Towards this, they are seen to be abandoning all pretentions of jihad. Somewhere they have realized that jihad cannot survive without Pakistan and Pakistan without China. Possibly, inthe assessment of Chinese leadership, jihadi leaders like Masood Azhar are strategically indispensable, hence they need to be bailed out at the UN.

Also, not the least incidental is the waiving of flags the Islamic State in the Valley after Friday prayers. There is another jihadi discourse brewing in Afghanistan, wherein the American jihadis (Islamic State) are pitted against the Russian jihadis (Afghan-Taliban). Recently on 27 December 2016, representatives of Russia, China and Pakistan met in Moscow, wherein it was decided that the Afghan-Taliban should be accommodated in the peace process in Afghanistan. This geopolitical alignment, much to the chagrin of Afghanistan is likely to include Iran as well. This major Russian strategic shift reportedly has been engendered by the relocation of the Islamic State in Afghanistan at the behest of the US. The threat perception of Moscow with regard to the Islamic State in Afghanistan has exacerbated in the recent times. It reckons a direct threat to its interests in Central Asia and Russian territory itself, as Russians form the largest group of Islamic State fighters.

This strategic alignment poses a formidable geopolitical predicament for India in this game of US-jihadis versus Russian-jihadis. For India it amounts to a boost in Pakistan’s concept of ‘Good Taliban and Bad Taliban’. This emerging jihadi discourse not only deeply hurts Indian interests in Afghanistan, where it has sunk lot of goodwill and money, but it also will impact on Kashmir. In the Moscow meeting, Russia and China issued a categorical statement regarding their advocacy of delisting jihadi terrorists of Afghanistan from the UN Sanctions list. This is what ‘global war against terror’ has been reduced to! An emboldened Pakistan with new strategic benefactors like Russia and China may explore new lengths of jihadi proxy war in Kashmir.

The rude message to India is that it has to fight global jihad on its own, and other powers will align and realign in this war depending on their respective strategic interests which are anything but permanent.

The manner in which India deals with Masarat Alam will determine the trajectory of the Indian component of jihadi proxy war. The first step in this direction would be to discontinue the usage of words ‘separatists’ and ‘separatism’. Recently, the Supreme Court of India emphasized: “J&K has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Indian Constitution… citizens of state are first and foremost citizens of India.” This emphatic statement of the Supreme Court needs to be implemented in letter and spirit. When implemented with fidelity to India, it will automatically render likes of Masarat Alam, enemies of the State.

Those in the Valley seduced by Pakistan must know that in a recent survey in the US, 22 percent Pakistanis and 40 percent Bangladeshis mentioned their country as ‘India’. They have found no fruits from two decades of global jihad, rather they are abashed about it. The pro-Pak Kashmiris will ultimately realize their religious folly, but not before wasting a generation or two. The salvation of these anti-India elements lies in reclaiming the depth of their civilization, i.e Kashmiriyat rather than jihad and Ummah, two most fallacious, seductive and destructive concepts.

(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)