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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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The terrorist incident at Patna on Oct 27, 2013 reaffirms a sinister significance which needs to be correctly interpreted.

The message is that Jihadi terrorism in India, like Maoism, is totally indigenized. It no longer requires Pakistani sponsorship at every step.

The Pakistani spymasters have succeeded in identifying fault lines in India which are capable of spawning a movement on their own. One such movement is now identified in the Indian mind as the Indian Mujahedeen (IM). Fired with the Jihadi ideology of Al Qaida, the Indian Mujahedeen aims to destroy India, identified as alien to Islamic interests, and replace it with an entity where Sharia philosophy and legal system reign supreme.

Although Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaida, is dead his ghost is very much alive and kicking. In several parts of the Muslim world, new groups have emerged, swearing by the Jihadi Muslim militant creed of Al Qaida, without any direct links with Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, currently the top man of Al Qaida, hiding somewhere in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Such groups have been operating notably in Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Syria besides Chechnya, Philippines and China in its Xinjiang province. The Jihadi literature available on internet serves as the guide and inspiration of such groups. They are all locally constituted and carry out activities like the Indian Mujahideen in India, but on a much bigger scale. They are actively engaged in armed conflicts with their state authorities killing innocent people including women, children and the aged. The important difference with their Indian counterpart is that whereas they have imbibed the suicide bomber culture, the Indian Mujahideen are yet to embark on this alternative. But it is only a matter of time for the suicide bomber to emerge on the Indian scene.

The Al Qaida doctrines are proving pervasive. Their influence on Muslim immigrants in Europe and US has altered fundamentally the thinking of the governments there. The European countries are giving up their beliefs in multi culturism which they had embraced as an invaluable product of European renaissance and enlightenment. That they are now giving on this, scores the depth of their disenchantment and their readiness to alter drastically their creed and convictions to preserve their cultural values and safeguard their national security.

In the US some similar steps have been taken though the nature of the conflict is not publicly admitted. The job before the US authorities is manifold more difficult. It is almost impossible in the US to negate the constitutional rights of the citizens. The natural born Muslim citizens of the US cannot be put on a separate category: their rights to privacy and individual freedoms and to practice their religion in the manner they deem correct, cannot be legally questioned or circumscribed. The US authorities are, however, alive to the attraction which Al Qaida thinking casts over some of their citizens and are employing tangential tactics to watch the unfolding scenarios. The Patriot Act was enacted as one of the first measures. The Prism surveillance programme was initiated basically as a counter measure against this menace though subsequently its ambit was expanded to cover other intelligence objectives. The decision of the New York police to penetrate into every single mosque in the city was an executive step to nip in the bud any conspiracy which could threaten any citizens personal security or property or the nations abiding interests.

The Indian Mujahideen is a cancerous growth but spreading like a virus. Various modules have come to light since 2005 when the first detection took place. The investigations have followed the first leaders of the movement who were identified and, as a result, the modules in Darbhanga in Bihar, Azamgarh in UP and Bhatkal in Karnataka were located. To the credit of our investigative agencies it must be acknowledged that they have been able to identify the culprits responsible for many incidents of terrorism such as those in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Bodhgaya, Patna etc. The perpetrators have been found to be interconnected, got easily recruited and brain washed and sworn to commitments to the ideologies of Jihad. The funds for operations come from across. Some also received training in explosives and tactics abroad. Nepal became a favourite route of passage from India to Pakistan and vice versa. The IM today stands developed to an extent that foreign props may not be necessary for its continual growth.

A crucial cusp has been reached. Because of the seamless reach of Jihadi doctrine, many more sleeping modules may have already been created though they have not activated themselves. Many more may be in incubation in different regions of the country. They may not be interconnected or in communication with one another. But they all represent a serious threat in the making, a disaster waiting to happen.

What kind of disaster can overtake the country? The Patna blasts offer a clue. An election meeting of the most visible political leader in the country today was sought to be disrupted by multiple terroristic, almost simultaneous, explosions. Simply put, it was an attack on the peaceful democratic process of an election address to a comprehensive large section of the city population. It was thus an attack on Indian democracy, its electoral processes and the philosophy of pluralism, apart from being a direct onslaught on the safety and security of citizens. In significance it can be compared to the attack on the nations Parliament in 2001. The latter attack was directly controlled form across. It was, therefore, executed with a certain finesse and expertise. The Patna operations were less sophisticated and could not, therefore, display a high level of efficiency. Their exercise was more in the nature of learning on the job. But their single mindedness was evident. One should not expect that future incidents could be as simplistic. In this age of technology and internet delivery, future episodes are likely to be technically more accomplished and hence more lethal.

How well are we prepared? Unfortunately Muslim Terrorism in India is looked upon with jaundiced eyes by several state administrations. The guiding concern for such regimes is how their attitude will affect what they consider to be their captive vote bank. Their vision, coming through the prism of distorted secularism, thus becomes non objective, self serving and destructive to national interests. No prominent Muslim leader supports political jihad or Jihadi terrorism because he rarely has an eye on a vote bank. It is the pseudo secularist who fails the national purpose.

Bihars pre and post Patna blasts attitudes demonstrate this eloquently. Pre blast, the police in Bihar showed reluctance to handle the transit remand of arrested IM kingpin Yasin Bhatkal from Nepal to India. The security arrangements for the election speech on Oct. 17, 2013 of a national leader from a rival political party, even when vulnerabilities were considerable, were quite inadequate. It is understood that the state police had not participated in liaison meetings with central agencies to assess the severity of threats. Post blasts, no need for a judicial enquiry appears to have been felt.

Undoubtedly, threat of Muslim Terrorism is a national issue, to be dealt with collectively and severally by all national entities and political segments. When it gets targeted against the core of democracy in the country, the issue assumes a much larger dimension. The expectation then becomes that everyone will rise above trivial considerations.

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