India and State Terrorism
only country in the world, other than Israel, to have acquired land through conflict or
intimidation after the end of World War 2 is India. Israel has the excuse at least that in
some of their conflicts with the Arabs they pre-empted imminent aggression and thus were
not the aggressor per se. In the South Asian sub-continent, India has openly coveted
(and/or made designs to take possession thereof) before actually annexing their neighbour
or their prime real estate. In every incident of aggression, care was taken to garb the
nakedly expansionist moves under some camouflage or the other.
The first to fall into India's grip was Kashmir, the legal subterfuge used was the Maharaja's Letter of Accession. This was followed by military intervention to annex Hyderabad, Junagadh and Manawadar in 1948. In 1960 it was the turn of the Portuguese possessions of Goa, Daman and Diu in a farcical war. The smaller princely States of India were just taken over lock, stock and barrel at the appropriate time. As the world started to look askance at naked aggression, India turned increasingly to subterfuge. In 1968 they formed the Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) whose main purpose at that time was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh, in this they were actively supported by the Border Security Forces (BSF) whose Deputy Director General (DDG), in this case Brig Pande, was based at Calcutta with an alternate HQs in 91 BSF at Agartala for operational purposes. With the creation of RAW, India turned from naked aggression to sophistication in the pursuit of its ambitions. RAW became involved in covert operations in all the peripheral countries around India. While RAW's role in the creation of Bangladesh did not get much attention, its operatives were in constant contact with hard-core India sympathizers within Awami League (AL) such as Tajuddin, Nazrul Islam, etc. Through these surrogates RAW maintained pressure on Sheikh Mujibur Rehman whenever he started weakening in his anti-Pakistan stance. After 1971, RAW retained its interest in Bangladesh, raising a parallel military organisation loyal to AL (and India) known as the Rakhi Bahini headed by Brig Nuruzzaman. As a Captain of the Pakistan Army, Nuruzzaman had undergone trial for treason in the famous Agartala Conspiracy Case. Though they were better armed and organised than the Bangladesh Armed Forces, the Rakhi Bahini was easily disarmed and demobilised by the Bangladesh Army post-Mujib. RAW agents have since become a permanent factor for destabilisation in Bangladesh, having subverted the loyalties of a large segment of the Hindu population. After Sheikh Mujib was assassinated, they re-created the 1971 vintage Kader Bahini led by the infamous Kader Siddiqui who operated from Indian territory from 1975 to 1985 and constantly troubled the Zia Regime (and later the Ershad regime) with many instances of terrorism. Today India sustains the Chakma revolt against Bangladesh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by supporting the Shanti Bahini which makes cross border raids from training and logistics camps in the Indian Tripura State at Amarpur, Sabroom and opposite Baghban-Tilla.
Westerners were captivated by the marriage of the American Ms Hope Cooke with the ruler of the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim in the early 60s. Set in a fairytale Shangri-La atmosphere Sikkim became known as one of free world's remaining ancient monarchies. But trouble incited by RAW was brewing from 1973 onwards. RAW planted agents in Gangtok, Mangain, Namchi and Gyalshing for cultivating sympathisers who would fan disturbances against the reigning monarch and would then 'request' for Indian help against the 'despot'. Just in case the anti-monarchist ploy did not work, RAW was ready with operational data required for military intervention. On 20 April 1975, the once friendly and peaceful kingdom of Sikkim became a possession of India.
Bhuttan's Jigme Wangchuk of the adjacent Himalayan Kingdom took this lesson to heart and while he clearly pouts at regional official functions he does not strain too much at the leash and studiously toes the Indian line, realising that his situation is probably more untenable than his once-upon-a-time Sikkim Counterpart. Nominally, he remains, along with the Maldives, as showpiece independent nations and the only ones on India's periphery 'without' problems with India. Just in case that he should ever dream otherwise, the Kingdom is prone to inspired pro-India riots from time to time. This domino will fall eventually or may not depending upon whether the Indians want to keep the showpiece going.
Nepal is the only Hindu Kingdom in the world. King Bhirendhra ran afoul of India because of his independent stance on regional policies. Previously known as an annexe of India, Nepal opened out to the world in the late 70s and early 80s. RAW was mandated by the Indian Government to bring Nepal into line. The first set was that India used a pretext to halt all supplies of food, medicine, oil etc. from going to this land-locked country. In the meantime RAW agents fanned out among anti-monarchist elements and as the economic blockade took hold, riots broke out all over Nepal escalating into full fledged political confrontation between the monarchy and the electorate. Acts of terrorism, including the explosions of bombs, sabotage of installations, attacks on prominent personalities, etc. proliferated. Faced with the possibility of large-scale anarchy and even take-over by India on the Sri Lanka pattern, the King opted to become a constitutional monarch and a 'friendly' government came to power in Nepal. This was a blatant interference in the internal affairs of another nation, RAW was used as the terror weapon.
Burma has not escaped interference from India. Having a long border with India, Burma is bedevilled by independence movements that freely roam across international borders. Such cross border operations have meant that Burmese troops have been engaged on yet another front to secure the country's frontiers. There is concern in Bangladesh that RAW agents were behind the trouble in Arakan Province that has resulted in 250,000 Arakanese Muslim refugees crossing over to Bangladesh. Normally Burma and Bangladesh enjoy excellent relations but this refugee problem has become a sore point that has almost led to war between the two countries.
The paradise that once was Sri Lanka is a case of the full force of application of the so-called Indira Doctrine, that this whole region is an area of unrestricted Indian influence. The former Chief of RAW, Kao, was mandated by Indira Gandhi to repeat the Bangladesh story and bring the Sri Lankans into line. RAW was given a free hand to destabilise the island republic, a country so at peace with itself and its neighbours that it had a maximum of only two or three active military units (less than 5,000 men under arms). The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ramachandra, gave his consent to RAW setting up Tamil rebel camps at Ganda and Gorakhpur. Tamils were trained to bring about an armed rebellion to carve a Tamil State out of the predominantly Sinhalese island. Of the many groups that RAW trained, the most deadly were the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) led by Prabhakaran, which murderously targeted the other fellow ethnic Tamil Groups in addition to bringing unrestrained terror to the Sinhalese majority in the island. The full face of terrorism was unleashed in the cities with car bombs, assassinations etc. killing and maiming thousands before the Sri Lankan Armed Forces could re-organise themselves and assert the rule of the law. With their LTTE allies ultimately besieged in the North and North East, the Indians gave the Sri Lankans an ultimatum to stop their offensive and virtually at the point of gun signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in 1987. Indian forces started landing in Sri Lanka as the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) to 'enforce' the peace even before the Accord was signed. This was Pax India-na at its most blatant. As often happens in a Client Patron relationship, the Tamil Tigers refused to fall into line with their Indian masters and the IPKF started to sustain heavy casualties from their former allies. The Indian Army blamed RAW for not providing accurate information about the former RAW proteges. The IPKF inadequacy in dealing with the LTTE became a debacle that forced the Indians to withdraw from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan paradise that once was had now became Hell on Earth, the fighting between the now 3-4 division strength Sri Lanka Armed Forces (over 100,000 men under arms) and the Tamil Tigers goes bloodily on without quarter given or taken. As a revenge for having caused innumerable casualties and horrific damage, the Tamil tigers targeted the man who had mandated the IPKF to establish Pax-India-na in Sri Lanka, Rajiv Gandhi. In a classic Tamil Tiger operation, RAW trained operative assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, the blood cycle had come a complete circle. This is second time around that it had happened in the same family, the first being the gunning down of Rajiv's mother by Sikh Bodyguards in the wake of the storming of the Golden Temple at Amritsar and the killing of Bhindranewala and his close associates. Bhindranewala shot into fame from obscurity as a protege of late Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi's younger son, who mandated RAW to support his feud. As a sequel to Rajiv's assassination India closed down all camps and suspended the free movement of Tamils (now mostly supporter of LTTE) with India, one may well ask, if this is not an instance of an open display of export of State terrorism, what is? Unfortunately for India, the Tamils have plenty of sympathisers in Tamil Nadu and the problems persist, having come home to roost.
The Indian Ocean farce where 200 Tamil mercenaries from the Ealam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF - another creation of RAW) were employed to stage a coup against Maldives President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom is a case in point. President Gayoom was prompted to ask for Indian help for rescuing his government. Anybody with scant knowledge of aircraft, ships and logistics would have worked out that the Indian forces were dispatched to the rescue much before the coup was even attempted. A grateful Gayoom has given Indian forces a major foothold deep in the Indian Ocean, a solid landbased aircraft carrier for dominating the oceanic area figuring in the designs of India hegemony.
Pakistan figures promptly as a major RAW target, with special emphasis on the separatist Sindhu Desh movement. A wing of the Indian Special Services Bureau (SSB) has established terrorist camps across the border from Sindh in Rajasthan in eight major locations, Ganganagar, Jaipur, Udhampur, Kishangarh, Bikaner, Barmer, Jaiselmer and Gandhinagar. Services of Hindus who had migrated to India during 1971 and whose relatives are still living in Sindh are coordinated through a RAW cell located at Jaipur called the Sindhu Desh Department. With the exit of the active elements of the Al-Zulfikar Organisation (AZO) from Afghanistan and Libya, AZO has been taken over lock, stock and barrel by RAW. The same style of paid gunmen and bomb explosions as was witnessed in Sri Lanka has been duplicated in Sindh. The cooperation between the KGB, Khad and RAW to destabilize Pakistan, particularly Sindh during the decade-old Afghan war, is well documented and known to western intelligence agencies.
RAW emerges as the only presently functioning instrument of widescale application of State terrorism. This is no rogue operation planned by some idealistic nuts running wild, this is a deliberate implementation of the policy of the Indian Government to annex and occupy neighbouring countries or to browbeat them into accepting Indian hegemony. That RAW takes the initiative to sow anarchy and disorder puts it in a murderous class of its own.
Pakistan's main claim to fame with respect to being judged guilty of State terrorism is Kashmir, there is widescale speculation that the US may declare Pakistan a terrorist State because of supposedly ISI-organised camps organise guerrillas to cross into Indian occupied Kashmir. The ISI learnt most of its expertise from close collaboration with the CIA during the 80s decade Afghan war when Afghan Mujahideen were trained in guerilla warfare in camps in the border region to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet yoke. Given the fact of Kashmir's disputed status and Pakistani emotions, the ISI could well be using that knowledge for operations in Kashmir but the insurrection within Kashmir is mostly indigenous, the people's will being spontaneous does not need orchestration. The ISI and other Pakistani covert agencies are also accused of providing help to Sikh militants demanding a separate homeland. Most of the Sikh militants are ex-Indian Army personnel who mutinied after the Golden Temple was desecrated. Support to them by Pakistan may be more moral than material in the circumstances. Kashmir is another matter, it is freedom struggle and the ISI need not organise camps since Kashmiris on both sides of the border are committed to freedom from Indian tutelage and thus would be crossing the border without official sanction. Even if the sanction is denied, the borders will remain porous, in the circumstances imposing a clamp down would be next to impossible.
Many people wrongly believe that RAW is used by India only for the purposes of the State's external policies. RAW has another more vicious role, to support the security forces within India to cow down its own population.
Many people in the outside world are not aware of the Hindu class system, almost 53% of the population are of the lowest class, the Untouchables. With about 17% Muslims and 3-4% Christians of various denomination, only about 25-27% of the population is really enfranchised. Most of the government jobs go to this minority with a sprinkling drawn from the majority for purposes of window dressing. The only government employment really open to the majority population are the menial jobs, even in the Armed Forces Untouchables, Muslims and Christians are few and far between. Control of the government at all levels and of the Armed Forces thus gives the Hindu minority upper class dictatorial authority over the rest of the population. When VP Singh was PM he tried to overcome this inequity by enforcing a Quota system, riots broke out all over the country, mostly fanned by the civil administration. In Delhi most of the protestors were government servants, this was repeated during the Babri Masjid riots in December showing BJP's hold. To sustain their rule, the ruling classes use RAW as a weapon to stamp down dissent, spread disinformation, political character assassination, hit squads to commit murder, etc. The amazing thing is that they got away with it despite the fact that the maximum amount of movements for independence are raging within India.
To start with is the grey area of Kashmir which is legally not a part of India but is under Indian subjugation. To fight the freedom movement, the Indians have adopted a three track policy. First they have shored up the present Indian administration, particularly the law enforcement agencies to maintain civil order. Since the local police forces have been hopelessly compromised, the Indians moved in large number of units from the Border Security Forces (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police (CRP). To augment their strength at key points, at least 2 more complete mountain divisions have been moved in, one from Eastern Command and the other from Southern Command. Both these formations were part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka. In addition, Brigade sized independent formations as well as special commando units have been posted to Kashmir. While the BSF and CRP were known for their penchant to resort to atrocities against non-combatants particularly old men, women and children, the commando units were trained by Israelis to combat the urban guerillas on the counter-Intifida pattern. Most infamous among these special units are the so-called Black Cats (they wear black uniform). The prime modus operandi is to surround a locality and line up all the men held in that swoop. Hooded men, who are obviously either informants or guerillas who have been tortured and thus forced to cooperate, are then brought to identify possible dissidents. Some of those that are held simply disappear, in most cases their bodies turn up after a few days. There is no sanctuary, churches and/or mosques are entered at will, in many cases there has been gun-battles on the premises. A form of ethnic cleansing is in process in Kashmir, the country is being rid of Muslim Kashmiris. There have been as many as 40,000 documented deaths in the last 2/3 years, over double that have crossed over the LoC to become a fresh wave of refugees in Azad Kashmir.
Almost a similar modus operandi is followed in Khalistan (Indian Punjab). Operation Blue Star in 1984 aimed at getting the Sikh militants out of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. The Sikh leader Bhindranewala was a RAW creation, a discovery of the late Sanjay Gandhi who thought he could be built-up as antidote to the growing Sikh freedom movement. Unfortunately for India, while before Bhindranewala the Sikhs were for greater autonomy within India, after Blue Star the great majority now want an independent Khalistan. Like in Kashmir, the province is in a state of virtual internal siege and the guerilla attacks are matched by the State's law enforcement agencies in the context of terrorism. Like in Kashmir, draconian laws ensure that fundamental rights remain suspended.
Over the broad mass of Central India, extending to the South is the shadowy Naxalite movement. Originating in a village called Naxalbari in West Bengal in the late 60s, this is essentially a revolt of the downtrodden class against the injustice of the rich and ruling, particularly the landlord class and government functionaries. At the beginning the movement was not really terrorist-oriented but the reaction of the civil administration forced them to respond with vengeance, now it is all out war with the Naxalites beheading their targeted enemies. Naturally the Indian Government's response, both Federal and State, has been to fight fire with fire with only lip-service given to civil liberties.
In the South is the land of the Tamils. In the 60s and 70s there was a budding secessionist movement, however with Indian moves on Sri Lanka in support of the minority Tamils against the majority Sinhalese, this movement was stymied. During the 80s, RAW created many camps in Tamil Nadu for the Tamil guerilla movements. Most of the supplies to Tamil areas were ferried across the straits to Jaffna and other areas by RAW operatives. A time came when the Sri Lankan Tamils had virtually free run of the place. However, with the advent of the IPKF into Sri Lanka, the major Tamil group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), led by Prabhaharan, revolted against Indian tutelage. RAW's proteges now became India's implacable enemies, the most bloody action was Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in typical LTTE style with the help of a girl from the LTTE suicide squad, she blew herself up along with the former PM of India. The Indian reaction against the Sri Lankan Tamils in India has been predictable and has created a backlash among the South Indian Tamil population.
Most of India's budding secessionist movements are too small to be well documented but the Indian response has been bloody and brutal. Some of the movements that are of significance are:-
The areas around Darjeeling, just south of Nepal, is inhabited by a large number of Gorkhas who are fighting for their own homeland. There is an uneasy peace at the moment because the Indians have promised autonomy.
Just west of Darjeeling lies Meghalaya where Bodo tribals are fighting for their independence. This freedom struggle started with bows and arrows, it is now a full fledged guerilla movement.
United Liberation Front of Assam envisages an independent Assam as the local inhabitants feel they have been colonized by the Indians. As usual, the Indians have met terror with terror, razing entire villages to the ground.
The Nagas have been fighting for their independence since almost 1947. The British had promised them an independent homeland for their active support against the Japanese in World War 2. After the emergence of Bangladesh, the mainly Christian Nagas lost their main supply base for some time and they came to terms with the Federal authorities. However the promises made by the Indians were never fulfilled and as Bangladesh fell out with India, the Naga logistics improved and the guerilla movement goes on in full swing.
Like the Nagas, the Mizos are mainly Christians and their guerilla movement has followed the same route. Laldenga, their leader, had to come to terms after the emergence of Bangladesh. He was brought to Delhi for peace negotiations and then incarcerated when the talks failed in utter violation of the immunity given to him. Today the movement for an independent Mizoram goes on.
One of the greatest shocks of 'democratic' India that awaited tea planters of West Pakistani origin who moved into India while escaping from East Pakistan in 1971 (and were incarcerated in Indian Jails) was to find Manipuri children in many jails of Tripura State, particularly Agartala Jail. Under the Maintenance of India Security Act (MISA), a large number of Manipuri children of Manipuri influentials were kept as hostages for their good behaviour. For a time after Bangladesh became a separate country, there was relative peace in Manipur as the guerilla movement lost its supply sanctuaries. It is now a war-torn country with Indian forces being attacked by Manipur guerillas in areas stretching from Manipur south to the Burmese border.
In the face of overwhelming evidence of Indian sponsored State terrorism directed against (1) its neighbours and (2) its own population for years, the USA is not likely to discriminate against Pakistan on the basis of the evidence at hand and the nature of the international dispute with respect to Kashmir, though restraint may well have been advised by the US through diplomatic channels. One may well ask, what is any Pakistani government to do, turn the other cheek and act deaf, dumb and blind while Kashmiris are increasingly subject to atrocities? In Kashmir today, if death, rape and torture has become endemic, it is mostly at the initiative of Indian forces. To be fair while one may accept that we may have cast a stone or two, in the face of the Indian barrage of terrorism against all its neighbours, one will expect that justice will not be denied. If the world community has any even-handed non-discriminatory yardstick for labelling any nation a terrorist State, India outstrips everyone else by a mile!