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Book Review – MBI Munshi’s ‘The India Doctrine’
June 30, 2008, 11:47 am
Filed under: India

Book Review – MBI Munshi’s ‘The India Doctrine’



By Zoglul Husain

London 25 May 2008. As contemporary history shows, the nations of the third world countries have been striving for the further advancement of national liberation and economic emancipation. Despite this, much of the third world are still suffering heavily from death and destruction under the yokes of subjugation, domination and plunder by imperialistic and regionally hegemonic powers. It is on this general scenario relating to South Asia that MBI Munshi has focused.




















Munshi has correctly identified India as a hegemonic and expansionist regional power, and has competently and authoritatively revealed and narrated in depth and in detail, its dark game plans as well as the overt and covert operations in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries in South Asia. He indicates the urgent need for the neighbours of India to resist the big bad bully, whose distorted ethos has been to subjugate and try to annex these neighbours in order to establish what has been termed ‘Akhand Bharat’ or ‘undivided India’, under the suzerainty of a hegemonic regime ruling from Delhi as an emergent sub-superpower. The author makes a special mention that the doctrine has got a boost by the recent US-India nuclear cooperation treaty, followed by US’s recognition of India as a strategic partner. This in a nutshell is the story of ‘The India Doctrine’.

The author has implied, but has not specified, the reason for rejecting the doctrine. It could be said that, if it were based on equality, social justice and emancipation of the people, then there would not be many who would oppose a united South Asia or a united Asia or even finally a united World. However, with the present state of affairs as they are, India’s conspiracy to obliterate the independence and sovereignty of the neighbouring countries in order to devour them, is evil and retrogressive and it needs to be countered both externally, by the mighty resistance of the people concerned, and internally, by India’s rational politicians and the people, who should loudly defend their own ‘panchsheel’ or five principles of peaceful co-existence. These five principles are: mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence.

The bold appearance of MBI Munshi in the arena of political writers in Bangladesh with his first book is nothing short of a great surprise. Munshi was born in 1972 at Kaliganj, Greater Jessore in Bangladesh, but was brought up in the UK from the age of one till twenty-four. He obtained his Masters in Law from the London School of Economics, qualified as a Barrister from the Lincoln’s Inn in 1996 and was called to the Bar in 1997. Together with this background, and with his father being an FRCS degree qualified doctor at a UK hospital, it is quite unusual that MBI Munshi settled back in Bangladesh in 1996, to pursue a carrier as a practicing lawyer and a lecturer in Law, which he could have done in the UK. A voracious reader, not belonging to any particular organization, he has made a thorough and painstaking research in his study of the subject of his book and he has cited references from a great mass of books and articles. As pointed out by Isha Khan in his book review, a bibliography would enormously help the serious readers, especially the researchers. In this work, MBI Munshi has shown an extraordinary power of assimilation of information gathered from huge masses of reading materials, and also of drawing justified conclusions built on irrefutable arguments. ‘The India Doctrine’ is a great contribution to the political writings about South Asia, particularly about Indian hegemonism in Bangladesh. The book is a very valuable reference material for politicians, sociologists, historians, researchers, military strategists, intelligence operators and the like.

‘The India Doctrine’, edited by MBI Munshi and published by the Bangladesh Research Forum in 2006 and reprinted in 2007, consists of 288 pages. The print by Probe Printers Ltd is impressive. The text however, is not free from typographical errors. The smart book jacket displays a map of South Asia, which combined with the title, immediately focuses one’s mind on issues of territorial, geo-political and geo-strategic considerations. The book contains a preface by eminent scholar Dr M Ataur Rahman, a Professor at the University of Dhaka and President of Bangladesh Political Science Association. The contents of the book are as follows: a 144-page essay titled ‘The India Doctrine’ by MBI Munshi; a short 6-page essay titled ‘Indian move to establish United India through United Bengal’ by Khodeza Begum; two articles titled ‘China-India-US strategic tangle – challenge for Bangladesh’ and ‘Himalayan revolution – testing time for Nepal’ spanning 33-pages by Bangladesh military strategist Brigadier General M. Sakhawat Hussain (retd); five articles on Nepal by eminent writers Nishchal M S Basnyat, Madan Prasad Khanal, Sanjay Upadhya and Dr Shastra Dutta Pant (two articles); and one article on Sri Lanka jointly written by Rohan Gunaratna and Arabinda Acharya. The book has been priced at Taka 350/- in Bangladesh.

The concept of ‘Akhand Bharat’ or ‘Undivided India’ as a doctrine refers to India before its partition and independence in 1947, which ended the colonial rule of the British raj in India. According to experts the concept may extend to territories in ancient Hindu and Buddhist empires or even to reminiscence of mythical anecdotes. The doctrine was enunciated by its ideologue Jawaharlal Nehru in his book: ‘Discovery of India’ (1946). Nehru did not believe in the partition of India, but accepted it as a temporary phase, after which, he believed, India would be reunited. Although the doctrine is not a declared policy of any Indian government so far, Nehru and subsequent governments nevertheless pursued it with utmost vigour. His daughter Indira Gandhi said in a public meeting on November 30, 1970: “India has never reconciled with the existence of Pakistan. Indian leaders always believed that Pakistan should not have been created and that Pakistan nation has no right to exist”. Such a blatant statement makes it clear to all. The Hindu fundamentalist BJP, RSS and the like, who were in power for about seven years, are more brazen and they go much further to assert the doctrine.

Munshi narrated in detail how Indian intelligence were involved in the process of independence of Bangladesh right from 1947, cited references on the close interactions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and many of his followers with Indian intelligence, and highlighted India’s offer of support to the struggle for independence. The author, a supporter of the independence of Bangladesh, could have stressed that it is the unhappiness of East Pakistan that led to the independence, while India wanted to break-up Pakistan with objectives compatible with the ‘India doctrine’. The history of independence was finally decided by the barbaric military crack down of the Pakistan army and the people’s united resistance against it, and India’s role was of course inevitable. The author’s reference to Indian involvement in the movement of Baluchistan has similar backgrounds. At present there are reported outside conspiracies to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear capability and divide Pakistan into three countries. The internal cohesion of Pakistan has been disturbed right from 1947 by the policies of the successive governments. It is because of these that outside conspirators can fish in troubled water. A chapter on these could have enhanced the purview of the book.

Munshi has given a detailed account of Indian conspiracies and operations, both during the independence war and after the war to the present. He cited many references, one of them being the book: ‘RAW and Bangladesh’ written by Mohammed Zainul Abedin. India organized and controlled the independence war, though fought by the Bangladesh ‘Mukti Bahini’ with the support of the people, and in the end the Indian army, it can be said without demeaning their valour and ability that they virtually walked over on a totally prepared ground. But, when the Pakistan army surrendered, it was to the Indian army only, and the ‘Mukti Bahini’ was made a spectator. After independence India continued their operations to try to reduce Bangladesh to a vassal state and finally annex it. But they have not yet succeeded, although they have greatly influenced Bangladesh and they control a section of Bangladeshis. The author has given details of their operations, especially creation of ‘Mujib Bahini’, ‘Rakkhi Bahini’, etc. to eliminate any opposition to Indian hegemony, and accordingly a great number (thirty thousand according to some) of Bangladeshi patriots were massacred.

A section of the book has been dedicated to deal with India’s involvement in organising the armed activities of the minority nationalities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which have been lulled after the peace treaty. Here again, the Bangladesh government’s policies in CHT could have been brought to question. However, a brief history of CHT has been provided from 1666 to the present.

Khodeza Begum’s article on ‘United Bengal’ exposes, and aptly highlights, the same conspiracies and operations of India as MBI Munshi has dealt with in great detail. Bangladesh military strategist Brigadier General Sakhawat Hussain (retd)’s two articles and the other writer’s articles on Nepal and Sri Lanka have given the book a South India dimension. In one article, Hussain has detailed the geo-strategic considerations of South Asia including the Indian Ocean and the involvement and positions of the internal and external powers. He has finally made some recommendations for Bangladesh; they include a strategic relationship with China, both economic and defence, a dynamic relation with USA and a pro-active engagement with India. In the other article he makes observations and analyses Nepal’s movements and the Maoist armed struggle for democracy and against the monarchy and the Indian involvement. The other five articles on Nepal are written from divergent points of view but none from the Maoist angle. The articles, however, give a detailed picture of the political mechanism at work within Nepal. All the articles underline the conspiracies of India, which reduced Nepal to the status of a semi-protectorate. Dr Shastra Dutta Pant, while commenting on the hegemony of India over Nepal, mentioned that ‘Goa, Daman, Dyuk, Hyderabad, Jammu, Kashmir and Sikkim were annexed’ by India, and Bhutan reduced to a protectorate. At present, after the publication of ‘The India Doctrine’, the Maoists have won the election and they are trying to form a coalition government and this would loosen India’s grip on Nepal.

The article on Sri Lanka shows India’s involvement in fomenting and organising sectarian violence between the Tamils and the Singhalese and this has resulted in long ongoing armed fighting. At one point, on the pretence of peace making, India managed to station its army in Sri Lanka. This was an act, which India lived to regret, as it became a boomerang when the Tamils attacked the Indian army causing heavy casualty on them and India was compelled to withdraw, and in the process Rajib Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, got assassinated. But India has continued its hegemonic ways. It is known that the next edition of the book, which will be published in August, will contain a chapter on Indian conspiracies in Pakistan. It will make the book more interesting with additional valuable information. The enormity of the work that has gone into the essays of all writers of the book, especially of MBI Munshi, is awe inspiring. It is a great contribution for all readers on the subject. I certainly wish the book a very wide circulation.

Writer: Zoglul Husain



Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at


New report highlights ties between global warming and US security
June 30, 2008, 4:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

New report highlights ties between global warming and US security

By Arthur Bright

A new National Intelligence Assessment says that food shortages and migration caused by a warming climate could threaten US national security by aggravating ethnic strife around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.


The Washington Post writes that Thomas Fingar, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, delivered the report Wednesday to a joint meeting of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence. He warned that global warming will reduce food supplies in Africa, which he predicted would in turn spark violence in the region.

“Without food aid, the region will likely face higher levels of instability, particularly violent ethnic clashes over land ownership,” probably creating “extensive and novel operational requirements,” for the fledgling U.S. Africa Command, according to a National Intelligence Assessment on the security implications of climate change by the National Intelligence Council. …

Overall, the assessment found that while the United States “is better equipped than most nations to deal with climate change,” the impact on other countries has the “potential to seriously affect U.S. national security interests.” Humanitarian disasters, economic migration, food and water shortages — all caused by climate change — will pressure other countries to respond. Such demands “may significantly tax U.S. military transportation and support force structures, resulting in a strained readiness posture,” the assessment found.

Fingar said Africa is most vulnerable “because of multiple environmental, economic, political and social stresses.” While no country will avoid climate change, the report said, “most of the struggling and poor states that will suffer adverse impacts to their potential and economic security,” are in the Middle East, central and southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The report is available at website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence(


The Los Angeles Times writes that the report says the US and other Western nations are not apt to be threatened by climate change via diminishing stocks of food, but a warmer climate would still have indirect negative impacts.

Developed nations are likely to fare better, Fingar said, with some estimates predicting that agricultural production in the U.S. could increase during the next 20 years.

But the U.S. will also face a cascade of challenges and problems. The nation “will need to anticipate and plan for growing immigration pressures,” Fingar said, noting that helping dense coastal populations in the Caribbean “will be an imminent task.”

Fingar also said the U.S. infrastructure is in many ways ill-prepared for climate change and the prospect of intense storms and flooding.

“Two dozen nuclear facilities and numerous refineries along U.S. coastlines are at risk and may be severely impacted by storms,” he said.

CNN and the Associated Press both highlight Mr. Fingar’s comment during the joint session that “conditions exacerbated by the effects of climate change could increase the pool of potential recruits into terrorist activity.” However, the Los Angeles Times notes that the report itself does not address any connection between global warming and terrorism. Rather, its focus is solely on the humanitarian crises that global warming might cause.

The idea that global warming could aggravate immigration and ethnic tensions is not new. Last December, The Christian Science Monitor reported that experts studying the relationship between security and climate are watching several hot spots around the globe. Bangladesh, with its high population and low sea level, is a particularly noteworthy flashpoint according to experts, as global warming could force its people to migrate into culturally proud neighboring regions.

“It is the No. 1 conflict zone for climate change,” says Peter Schwartz, chairman of the Monitor Group, a research firm in San Francisco that recently released a study on the security risks presented by climate change.

That field of study is relatively new, but analysts are beginning to lay the map of forecasted climate change over the map of political weakness to see where changes in weather could lead to volatility. No one argues that climate change alone will lead to war. But analysts suggest that it could be a pivotal factor that tips vulnerable regions toward conflicts.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier,” says Geoff Dabelko, director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington. “It’s not that it creates a whole new set of problems, it’s that it will make things that are already a problem worse.”

The Monitor writes that among those regions experts are watching are Nepal, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

The Wall Street Journal reports that experts who study the connections between security and climate believe the threat is real and must be considered by policymakers.

“It does trade off,” said Sarah Ladislaw, a fellow in the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The real question out there is: How well are people going to deal with the trade-offs?” The convergence of the increasing cost of fuel, global food shortages, global warming, and national security threats show how interconnected these transnational issues are, and policy makers need to be mindful of that, she said.

The members of Congress who heard the report, however, offered differing opinions of its findings, split along party lines.

Democrats on Wednesday said this report … “is a clarion call to action from the heart of our nation’s security establishment,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, chairman of the energy and climate change panel. California Rep. Anna Eshoo, a member of the House intelligence committee, borrowed from the administration’s rhetoric, saying “we can’t wait for threats to mature before deciding how to counter them.”

But Republicans said that such continued focus on climate change ignores the daily problems Americans are confronting with escalating energy costs, and used the hearing to argue for more domestic drilling and nuclear power. Clamping down on greenhouse gases, for example, could lead to higher electricity prices.

Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the panel, lamented that Congress was talking about global warming “as opposed to the real threats of high energy prices and economic security.”
Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at

RAW at War-Genesis of Secret Agencies in Ancient India
June 30, 2008, 4:38 am
Filed under: India

RAW at War-Genesis of Secret Agencies in Ancient India

Columnist Gp Capt (Retd) S M Hali of Pakistan Air Force examines the historical capacity of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) of India to conduct clandestine operations


Espionage, euphemistically called the second oldest profession of the world finds a mention in the Indian Vedas, one of the most – if not the most – ancient of the human texts. References to espionage are also discernible in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece and China. The Chinese sage Sun Tzu is considered by European scholars to be the first to study and analyse the whole question of espionage on scientific lines, and to set it down in a text book Ping Fa, The Art of War. This view is, however, not substantiated by cogent facts since there is ample proof of the greater antiquity and soundness of the system of Secret Services enunciated by the early Indians.

Varuna, one of the chief gods of the Vedic pantheon is considered to be a forerunner of Secret Services. Magha, one of the most erudite and lucid poets and pragmatic thinkers, unequivocally asserted that statecraft cannot exist without the assistance of espionage. He writes:-

‘The statecraft in which even a single step is not taken in contravention of the science of dandaniti {(i.e. the law of danda (the rod)} which provides decent living (to the officers) and in which liberal grants are given in recognition of services rendered, does not shine to advantage without (the employment of ) spies, just as the science of grammar does not shine without Papasa Bhasya (the introductory portion of Patanjali’s Mahabhasya), though it is provided with Nyasa (a commentary of that name) which strictly follows the words of the Sutras (of Panini), a good vrtti (explanatory work) and an excellent Bhasya (advance work of explanation, discussion and criticism)’.

– (Sisupala – vadha, 2.112)

Secret Agencies in ancient India were not conceived of as an instrument of oppression but as a tool of governance. Secret agents were considered as ‘eyes of the king’.

Indian history illustrates that ancient Indians had gained great expertise in this secret art. The techniques and operational methods adopted by them were highly advanced, and can be usefully emulated today. From the spasas of Varuna, the fore-runners of the modern globe-trotting spies (the etymological affinity of the two terms is noticeable) to Chanakya’s final manifestation of this art in the Arthasastra which is in fact a systematic codification of a wide variety of scattered information copiously found in the Epics, – the Mahabharata and the Ramayana – the Puranas and literary works of Bhasa, Kalidasa, Magha and Bana; and the Tamil Sangam literature, transcends unprecedented heights in this discipline.

The vision of the Arthashastra, is truly breath taking, its practical utility timeless and the clarity of its exposition unique. The techniques of manipulating public opinion and creating disinformation, propounded by Chanakya anticipated modern intelligence systems by several centuries. No wonder then that the nearly 2500 years old lessons in deceit, guile, hypocrisy, machination, and gore taught by that Master strategist, Chanakya alias Kautilya (literally meaning ‘crooked’) was adopted in toto by India and its chief intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

While laying the foundation stone of RAW, India’s late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi approvingly quoted Louis F Hallis, when she said that its objectives should be the ‘Ability to get what one wants by whatever means: eloquence, reasoned arguments, bluff, tirade, threat or coercion, as well as, by arousing pity, annoying others, or making them uneasy’.

RAW is basically a Secret Service established to perform clandestine operations based on the Chanakyan principles of deceit and guile. It has successfully destabilised neighbouring countries, disintegrated independent states and backed the most notorious guerrilla organizations to achieve its ends. If it is compared to other intelligence agencies of the region, it emerges as an aggressive, cold-blooded and ruthless institution, engaged in the most macabre deeds.

The organization and structure of RAW will be discussed in the second part of this paper. But to appreciate its working we must, first examine the origin and organization of India’s ancient secret agencies.

Origin and Organization of Secret Agencies in Ancient India

The origin and development of Secret Agencies in ancient India is linked to the geopolitical conditions of the times when India was dotted with small states attempting to grab each other’s territory and wealth. The art of espionage was thoroughly mastered, and almost all ancient Indian literary sources exhaustively dealt with this system. Spying came to be regarded as an indispensable feature and integral part of an efficient administration and of a sound foreign policy. It kept the rulers posted with the activities, afflictions, and operations of political adversaries: their disloyal and disgruntled elements, fifth columnists and foreign agents in their midst, also the strength and intentions of all foreign power. Espionage was considered to be as important an institution as diplomacy, and was sought to be governed by certain definite rules and usages. In Chanakya, the secret service department became a permanent feature of the state and was organised in the most ‘uninhibited manner’.

While Chanakya presents a highly developed and complicated system of governance including an all-pervasive espionage system, references to it are found in pre-Mauryan literature, too. The Mahabharata refers to a mythological tradition on the origin of the dandaniti and the art of espionage, which was handed down from the past. It expounds ‘Brahma, the creator, himself composed a work comprising 1,00,000 chapters relating to dharma (religion), artha (economy), kama (sexual desire) and moksa (spiritual salvation) – the four aspects of life.’ Brahma’s compilation, according to the Great Epic, included subjects of behaviour towards counsellors, of spies, the indication of princes, of secret agents possessed of diverse means, of envoys, and agents of other kinds, conciliation, fomenting discord, gifts and chastisement; deliberations including counsels for producing disunion; the three kinds of victory, first, that which served righteously, secondly, which was won by wealth, and, thirdly, the one obtained by deceitful ways; chastisement of two kinds, namely, open and secret; the disorder created in the hostile troops; inspiring the enemy with fear; the means of winning over persons residing in the enemy territory; and finally, the chastisement and destruction of those that are strong.’

No other civilization can claim such an antiquity for the techniques of war, diplomacy, intrigue and espionage and on such compulsive terms.

In short, Varuna and other deities of the Vedic pantheon heavily depended on their secret agents. Manu, Kamandaka, Yajnavalkya and Chanakya, besides the later digest writers, deliberated on the art of espionage, while Chanakya perfected the art and recommended the organisation of secret agencies in the most unabashed manner. Professor Ghoshal suggests that the Mauryas followed the Arthasastra tradition in four respects, i.e. precautions in recruiting spies, countrywide espionage, safeguards against false reports by secret agents and enlistment of the services of loose women.


The modest origin of secret agents in the form of Varuna’s spasas brought about the imperative need for effective and vigorous espionage in an institutionalized form. The blue-print on espionage prepared by Chanakya has remained a model for successive generations. Various aspects of the organization of a secret agency as discussed in complete detail in the Arthasastra are briefly touched upon here.

* Category of Agents. The Arthasastra mentions two wings of ‘secret service’, viz. ‘samstha’ and ‘sancara’. The agents belonging to ‘samstha’ were stationed in the Establishment financed by the State, whereas the ‘sancaras’ moved from place to place depending on professional requirements. The spymasters of the two wings headed their respective cadre of agents, and controlled their operations. The members of one group were not aware of the existence of the other. This classification of Chanakya has been followed in India throughout the successive centuries.

* Recruitment of Secret Agents. A study of Arthasastra, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Manusmriti, Kamandaka and Sukra reveals that there was no fixed source of recruitment of secret agents. Modern intelligence services generally resort to three main sources of recruitment, the academic world, the armed services and the under-world. This was also the pattern followed in ancient India.

* Training. After recruitment, the secret agents were put through a rigorous training in the techniques of adopting disguises, changing appearances, science of signalling, secret writing, detection and identification of criminals, manipulating public opinion and creating dissensions in the enemy ranks.

* Control and Supervision. The complicated, comprehensive, all-pervasive and ubiquitous institution of spies in ancient India necessitated very close and personal supervision of the ruler or his most reliable officers. It must have been difficult for the king to personally handle the comprehensive and complicated department of intelligence. According to the Arthasastra, the department of external affairs, which was covering military intelligence was managed by the king with the help of his foreign minister and the Commander-in-Chief. The agents detailed to cover the senior officers of the central government certainly reported to the king directly. In the far-flung areas of extensive kingdoms and in view of poor means of communication, the action specially in times of war had to be taken by men on the spot and not by the king who may be at a place far distant from the field of action. In foreign countries the spies were kept under the control and supervision of ambassadors who scrutinised their reports and directed intelligence operations. According to Chanakya, the institution of spies as an organization did not function under a unified command. The spies and secret agents worked under their respective heads of department, and also directly under the king.

Techniques of Espionage

Before discussing the working of RAW, it would be worthwhile to briefly examine some of the techniques of espionage employed by the ancient secret agencies of India.

* Motivation and Recruitment of Sources. Motivation of persons to cater intelligence is directly proportionate to their weakness for sex and money, besides the burning desire of revenge or insatiable hunger for power. The Spymasters of ancient India exploited these weaknesses to their fullest advantage, and even the modern intelligence agencies heavily depend on these considerations. Chanakya advocated that the weak should be subjugated by means of conciliation and gifts, the strong by means of dissension and force.

* Selection and Infiltration of Targets. Chanakya, in a very subtle manner and with an intimate knowledge of human psychology, selected his targets in foreign lands depending on their weaknesses and motivation. He advised secret agents to concentrate on targets:-

* Among those who are dissatisfied with the rulers or had been humiliated or exiled;

* Who have not been compensated for their expenditure;

* Those who have been deprived of their rightful inheritance to office;

* Whose women have been molested by force;

* Who were wrongly imprisoned;

* Whose property had been confiscated;

* Who are prone to blackmail due to some weakness.

Double-Agent Operation .

A ‘Double-Agent’ is a spy who works for the opposition while pretending loyalty to those who employ him. this technique is an indispensable facet of agent-running and was extensively practised in ancient India. Chanakya suggested that secret agents should not refuse pay from the targets for working with them as their employees. This was to allay the misgivings on the part of the targets. ‘Double-Agents’ were used for creating dissensions and confusion among the confederates of the enemy. They floated false documents, got them seized from the possession of the enemy’s army chiefs, and thus weakened the enemy. ‘Double-Agents’ were used to winning over the confidence of their adopted masters by sacrificing a few exposed, treacherous, disaffected or inefficient spies.

* Payment of Sources Encouragement of secret agents with money and honour was considered an imperative necessity. The sources were paid both in cash and kind, besides receiving extraordinary courtesies and favours. It was also recommended that secret agents not only be rewarded for the job done by them but, also, in the event of repeated mistakes, silent punishment-death-be awarded to them.

* Communication of Intelligence Intelligence not properly and promptly conveyed and which cannot be acted upon loses its value and validity. Besides this, the Arthasastra, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kamandaka and Kathasaritasagara all recommend the use of coded language and signals.

* Interception of Mail Interception of messages, signals and letters by postal censorship; monitoring and tapping telephones; and breaking codes is the standard practice of modern intelligence agencies. In the ancient period, since intelligence was communicated through pre-determined signals and with the assistance of pigeons, secret agents must have made elaborate arrangements to intercept these messages.

* Assessment of Information. The Arthasastra cautions against the placing of reliance on agents without proper corroboration. It is repeatedly emphasised that all aspects of a report must be gone through, including the source of information, the mode of its collection and the past performance of a source before it is accepted. Briefing and debriefing of secret agents was an elaborate exercise, and they were trained to be precise, accurate and truthful in reporting.

* Working Under ‘Cover’. The institution of espionage in ancient India, like modern times, required secret agents to work under some kind of ‘cover’ to preserve secrecy. Chanakya institutionalized the art of working under the most ingenious ‘covers’. The most common disguises recommended by him were those of ascetic, mendicant, merchant, artisan, wandering minstrel, artiste, cook, barber and shampooer, bath and toilet attendant, deaf, dumb, eunuch and prostitute. Chanakya recommends the use of women as effective tools of espionage particularly those who were engaged in harlotry.

* Counter-Intelligence. A counter-intelligence operation is directed at discovering the identities and methods of foreign spies and intelligence officers working for the opposition. One of the most important duties of the Secret Service in ancient India was to counteract the activities of such agents operating within the country. Chanakya recommends that secret agents should discover foreign spies by operating at the places of entertainment, conclaves of people, among beggars, in gardens and public places, and the houses of prominent citizens.

Disinformation and Dissension.

Manipulation of public opinion is as important an object of the State today as it was in ancient India. It is used to create disharmony and distrust among the enemy’s friends, ill-will among his allies, loss of confidence in their leadership and disruption by psychological means his capacity and will to fight. Chanakya had perfected the technique of disinformation and highly eulogised the use of dissension in enemy’s ranks for winning a battle without any military action. His winning an extensive empire for his student Chandragupta Maurya without fighting any mentionable battle is aweÑ, and one may be excused to add: admirationÑ, inspiring feat, unparalleled in history. The Sanskrit Classical drama Mudrakshasa has tried to depict it dramatically but, at best, has only partially succeeded.

* Sabotage. The technique of sabotage, which the political strategists consider as the penultimate means to vanquish an adversary, had been greatly perfected in ancient India. Secret practices for sabotage were advocated by Chanakya to ensure victory. As a preface to sabotage, he suggests the creation of an atmosphere congenial to arousing terror, fear, demoralization, disappointment and loss of confidence among the enemy ranks. Prior to launching a full-scale assault on the enemy fort, Chanakya suggests implementation of secret measures to weaken its defences not only physically but in all respects. These include prevention of sowing the fields, destruction of the standing crops and cutting of the enemy’s supply lines.

He also advises free and uninhibited use of poison in the articles used by the enemy. His detailed and scientifically valid knowledge of the subject has earned for him a place in Arabic medical literature, that knows him as Ibn Shanaq (son of Chanak). Some of the secret stratagems advocated by Chanakya include the use of smoke with properties seriously affecting the vision, and, arson or setting fires within the enemy fort.

* The employment of Visakanyas (Poison-damsels). Secret Agencies in ancient India had perfected very ingenious techniques to subserve the interests of their monarchs. Besides using the nascent technological advancement available to them, they exploited human weakness for sex to achieve royal objectives. Visakanya is a unique feature of the Indian genius to poison the monarch. These venomous beauties can be classified, as follows:-

* A damsel whose body is saturated with gradual doses of poison, and who is likely to transmit poison from her body to another person coming in contact with her;

* A woman who treacherously captivates the heart of a person, and then mixes poison in his food or drink;

* A girl who is, one way or the other, so much poisoned or infected with disease that she is likely to convey her poison or disease to the person coming in contact with her. A woman suffering from Venereal disease or, in the latest situation one suffering from Aids is a Visakanya of this kind.


What is not possible by deployment of force is possible by the use of stratagem.The black cobra was defeated by the stratagem of the crow and the golden chain.

— Chanakya


The first part of this article briefly traced out the history of secret services in ancient India. Its chief progenitor was Chanakya, whose classic, the Arthasastra, not only provides a fairly graphic account of the activities of spies in the Mauryan and post-Mauryan polity but lays the foundation for the ‘statecraft’, guile and unscrupulous practices advocated by this master strategist.

He goes on to recommend, ‘In the work of espionage, all methods are admissible Ñ snooping, lying, bribing, poisoning, using women’s wiles and the assassin’s knife. To a weak king menaced by strong neighbours, Chanakya’s advice was to rely chiefly on spies and wage what he described as a ‘battle of intrigues’ (mantra yuddha) and ‘secret wars’ (kuta yuddha). The spies, in order to achieve their objective, were to practice all kinds of fraud, artifice incendiarism and robbery. Their objective was to demoralize the enemy’s troops by circulating false news, and seduce the allegiance of his minister and commanders. The underlying idea seems to have been to keep the strong neighbour preoccupied with domestic troubles thus making it impossible for him to launch a foreign expedition. From the days of Chanakya, the rules of business of espionage have not changed, at least the basic principles remain as before. The development of science and technology has only given fresh impetus and tools to the art of spying.

Evolution of RAW

Origins in the Directorate of Intelligence Bureau, created by the Raj in November 1920 Ñ during the Khilafat and Swaraj movements Ñ out of the old Criminal Intelligence Department (CID). In 1933, sensing the political turmoil in the world which eventually led to the Second World War, the bureau’s responsibilities were increased to include the collection of intelligence along India’s borders. In 1947, after Independence, Sanjeevi Pillai took over as the first Indian Director. Having been depleted of trained manpower by the exit of the British and Muslims, Pillai tried to run the bureau along MI 5 lines. Although in 1949, Pillai organized a small foreign intelligence set-up, the inefficacy of it was proved by the Indian debacle in the Indo-China War of 1962, and the cry of ‘not enough intelligence available’, was taken up by the Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Chaudhry, after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

It was towards the end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967 that the concept of a separate foreign intelligence agency began to take concrete shape. In 1968, after Indira Gandhi had taken over, it was decided that a full-fledged second security service was needed. R. N. Kao, then a deputy director of IB, submitted a blueprint for the new agency. Kao was appointed as the chief of India’s first foreign intelligence agency named as ‘the Research and Analysis Wing’ or RAW.

RAW takes shape

Having started humbly as a Wing of the main Intelligence Bureau with 250 personnel and an annual budget of Rs 2 crore (by a rough estimate), in the early seventies, its annual budget had risen to Rs 30 crores while its personnel numbered several thousand. In 1971, Kao had persuaded the government to set up the Aviation Research Centre (ARC). The ARC’s job was aerial reconnaissance. It replaced the Indian Air Force’s old reconnaissance aircraft and by the mid-70s, RAW, through the ARC, had high quality aerial pictures of the installations along the Chinese and Pakistani borders. By 1976, Kao had been promoted to the rank of a fullfledged Secretary responsible for Security and reporting directly to the Prime Minister. His rise had raised RAW to become India’s premier intelligence agency. RAW agents operated in virtually every major embassy and high commission.

RAW’s objectives

The objectives of RAW according to Asoka Raina’s famous book Inside RAW (Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981) have been:-

* To monitor the political and military developments in all the adjoining countries, which have, direct bearing on India’s national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy.

* Secondly, RAW watched the development of international communism and the schism between the two communist giants, the Soviet Union and The Republic of China. For as in other countries both the powers had direct access to the Communist Parties in India.

* Thirdly, the supply of military hardware to Pakistan mostly from European countries, the USA and China, was of high priority.

* And last but not the least, the presence of a large ethnic Indian population in foreign countries, provided a powerful lobby. These countries could back a favourable policy in international councils, motivated by the ethnic Indian group.

The Organization

RAW has been organized on the lines of the CIA. The following chart (source: Inside RAW by Asoka Raina) signifies the organization of RAW and is self-explanatory.

Training of RAW Agents

Recruitment: Initially, induction in RAW relied primarily on trained intelligence officers who were recruited directly. These belonged to the external wing of IB. However, quite a few were taken from police and other services to fill the cadres of RAW owing to its sudden expansion. Later RAW began recruiting promising fresh graduates from the Universities directly. The criteria for selection are fairly stringent.

Basic Training: Basic training commences with ‘pep talks’ to boost the morale of the new recruit. This is a ten days’ phase in which the fresh inductee is familiarized with the world of intelligence and espionage and alienated from the spies of fiction. Common usages, technical jargon and classification of information are taught. Case studies of other agencies like CIA, KGB, Chinese Secret Agency and ISI are presented for study. He is also taught that an intelligence organisation does not basically identify a friend from a foe, it is the country’s foreign policy that do.

Phase – II: The fresh recruit’s training continues and he is now posted in some remote outpost, attached to a Field Intelligence Bureau (FIB).. His training here lasts for a period of six months to a year. He is given a first hand feeling of what it was to be out in the cold, in the danger area conducting clandestine operation. During night exercises, under conditions of absolute realism, he is taught infiltration and exfiltration. He is instructed to avoid capture and if caught, how to face intensive interrogation; the art of reconnoiter, making contacts, and, the numerous skills of operating an intelligence mission. At the end of the field training, the new recruit is brought back to the School for final polishing. Before his deployment in the field, he is given exhaustive training in the art of self-defence, an introduction to martial arts and the use of technical espionage devices. He is also drilled in various administrative disciplines so that he could take his place in the foreign missions without arousing suspicion. He is now ready to operate under the cover of an Embassy to gather information, set up his own network of informers, moles or operatives as the task may require.

Functions of RAW

The functions of RAW vary according to the target. Some functions for obtaining strategic intelligence are outlined below:-

Collection of Information: Emphasis is laid on obtaining information essential to Indian interests. Both overt and covert means are adopted.

Collection of Information : The vast myriad of data is sifted through, classified and filed. The modern computer network in the 13-storey bombproof building situated at Lodhi Road, New Delhi, is a great help.

Aggressive Intelligence: The primary mission of RAW includes aggressive intelligence which comprise espionage, psychological warfare, subversion, sabotage, terrorism and creating dissension, insurgency and, ultimately, insurrection to destabilize the target country.

Modus Operandi

Foreign Missions: Foreign Missions provide an ideal cover and RAW centres in a target country are generally located inside the Embassy premises.

Multinationals: RAW operatives find good covers in Multinational organizations. NGOs and Cultural programmes are also popular screens to shield RAW activities.

Media: International media centres can easily absorb RAW operatives and provide freedom of movement.

Collaboration with other agencies: RAW maintains active collaboration with other secret services to meet its ends in a particular target country. Its contacts with KGB of the former Soviet Union, KHAD, the erstwhile Afghan agency, Mossad, CIA and MI6 have been well-known. A common interest being Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.

Third Country Technique: RAW has been very active in obtaining information and operating through third countries like the Middle East, Afghanistan, UK, Hong Kong, Mayanmar and Singapore.

Spotting and Recruitment: RAW operatives are on the lookout for local recruits to serve their ends. Acting on the Chanakyan principles, they tend to exploit human weaknesses for wine, women and wealth, and, at times resort to blackmail. Separatist tendencies and ethnic or sectarian sensitivities are also well-known grounds for manipulation. Armed Forces personnel remain a primary target. Those journalists, intellectuals and politicians harbouring and preaching goodwill and better Indo-Pak relations also make suitable targets for inadvertent and unconscious recruitment by RAW agents.

Major successes of RAW

Creation of Bangladesh: The Bangladesh operation, beginning with sowing seeds of dissension, leading to the Agartala Conspiracy, creation of Mukti Bahini and under its cover sneaking into East Pakistan for guerrilla operations to blow up bridges and other installations damaged the morale of Pakistani troops and India won the war even before the battle began, thanks to RAW as its agents had infiltrated every nook and corner of erstwhile East Pakistan. The paragraph entitled: ‘RAW takes shape’, in the initial part of this article, amply demonstrates the causal chain of events.

Plan to assassinate General Zia-ur-Rahman: According to the September 18-24, 1988 issue of the weekly Magazine Sunday (Calcutta), RAW was on the verge of assassinating Bangladesh’s President General Zia-ur-Rahman (with Mrs Gandhi’s approval) when the Congress government fell. RAW briefed the new Prime Minister Morarji Desai about it who was appalled at the idea and stopped the murder. General Zia continued to rule Bangladesh for many more years. He was assassinated after Indira Gandhi returned to power but RAW pleads innocence.

Poornima: Project Poornima was the name given India’s Nuclear Programme. The task to keep it ‘under tight wraps of security’ was given to RAW. This was the first time that RAW was involved in a project inside India. The rest is history as India managed to surprise the world on 18 May, 1974 by detonating a 15-Kiloton plutonium device at Pokharan.

Kahuta’s Blueprint: According to the September 18-24, 1988 issue of the weekly Indian Magazine Sunday, RAW agents claim that in early 1978, they were on the verge of obtaining the plans and blueprint for Kahuta nuclear plant that was built to counter the Pokharan atomic blast, but the then Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai not only refused to sanction the $ 10,000 demanded by the RAW agent, but informed Pakistan of the offer. According to the report, Pakistanis caught and eliminated the RAW mole.

It must be noted that the author of ‘Ham Jang Nahin Hone Denge’ held the external affairs portfolio at that time.

Sikkim: Encircled by Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim presented a lucrative target to the Indians. It was ruled by a Maharaja. The Indian Government had recognized the title of Chogyal (Dharma Raja) for the Mahraja of Sikkim. After their kill in East Pakistan, in 1972, RAW was given the green signal to go ahead with the operation of installing a pro-Indian democratic government there. In less than three years, with the manipulation of RAW, Sikkim became the 22nd State of the Indian Union on April 26, 1975.

Maldives: To bring the smaller Independent States/countries in the Indian sphere of influence with the use of RAW, the case of Maldives makes an important example. In November 1988, the Eilam Peoples’ Liberation Front comprising about 200 Tamil secessionists on the pay roll of RAW were tasked to stage the drama of an uprising on that peaceful island. At the request of the President of Maldives, Mr Mamoon Abdul Qayyum, Indian Armed Forces ‘quelled’ the insurgency engineered by themselves and thus tried to sneak into the administrative mechanism of that peace-loving country.

Operation Chanakya: This was the codename given to the RAW operation in Occupied Kashmir to create rifts among the various Kashmiri Mujahideen groups, suppress the uprising and bring the Kashmiris under total Indian subjugation. According to Tariq Ismail Sagar’s book RAW, (Milli Book Depot, Lahore, 1997) in 1991, RAW operatives entered the Srinagar Valley in the guise of freedom fighters. They resorted to loot, rape and arson of Kashmiri Pundit families to give the popular non-communal uprising a bad name. Operation Chanakya gained momentum when Mossad provided its experienced Katsas to train RAW operatives. They did gain initial successes but when later actions of Operations Chanakya failed, RAW commenced an intensive propaganda to blame ISI.

Monitoring Pakistani Telecommunication: Raw operatives boast that at one time its monitoring complex had managed to break through Pakistani Telecommunications and were listening in to all telephonic conversations held by important Pakistani leaders.

RAW’s Failures

Although RAW has had many successes, it has also committed a number of blunders. Some of these are discussed below:

Promulgation of Emergency: Whereas the IB Director, A. Jayaram had advised Mrs Indira Gandhi against promulgating the Emergency, Kao, Mrs Gandhi’s handpicked man and RAW’s head, supported it. This proved to be a fatal mistake. He continued to feed the PM reports of its popularity and that no excesses were committed. How disastrous it proved for Kao’s benefactor is a matter of history.

Operation Blue Star: This was the codename given to the storming of the holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1984. Although it was a domestic matter and IB’s concern, yet RAW was pulled in under the pretext of a foreign element’s (allegedly Pakistani) involvement. RAW failed miserably as it could not assess the strength of Bhindranwale’s forces. What was to be a 5 hours’ operation stretched to 5 days and tanks had to be brought in and Indian Army suffered heavy casualties. Ultimately Indira Gandhi had to pay with her own life as she was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguard in retaliation to Operation Blue Star. Kao, the Prime Minister’s Security Adviser resigned within 24 hours of her assassination.

Kee us ne mere qatl ke ba’d Jafaa se tauba,
Haae! Us zood pashemaan kaa pashemaan honaa.
Ah! The remorse of the one
Who after finishing me,
Took the vow never to be cruel again.
So soon did he repent!

— Ghalib

Mujib-ur-Rahman’s Assassination: RAW operatives claim that they had advance information about Shaikh Mujib-ur-Rahman’s assassination but they failed to prevent it. It is interesting to note that despite its role in the creation of Bangladesh, RAW failed to annex it.

It was a classic case of the cropping up of a double dilemma: Yak na shud do shud.

Mauritius: Mrs Gandhi was so keen to see Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam continue as the Prime Minister of Mauritius that RAW was tasked to oversee his reelection campaign. Despite heavy investments, RAW failed by a wide margin.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka had been marked for special attention after it had permitted Pakistani aircraft to land for refuelling there after India had stopped the over flight rights of Pakistani flights to and back from East Pakistan. Sri Lankan President Junius Jaywardhene’s aim of turning his country into an Asian Tiger did not suit India at all. Stung by its failures in the Indian Punjab, RAW attempted to make up in Sri Lanka. RAW started training militants to destabilize the Pearl Island but in the bargain, such a monster was unleashed that even the landing of Indian troops as a peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka failed badly. Eventually, Rajiv Gandhi became a victim of the muddling in Sri Lanka.

RAW seems to be a congenital enemy of the Gandhi family.

Soft Target: Zuhair Kashmiri and Brian Mac Andrew’s well-known book Soft Target (James Lorimer and Comp., Publishers, Toronto, 1994) provides details of RAW’s botched operations in Canada to malign the Sikhs there for their role in the Khalsa movement and make them suspect in the eyes of the Canadian authorities. On 23 June, 1985 Air India’s Flight 182 was blown up near Ireland and 329 innocent lives were lost. On the same day another explosion took place at Tokyo’s Narita airport’s transit baggage building where baggage was being transferred from Cathay Pacific Flight No CP 003 to Air India’s Flight 301 which was scheduled for Bangkok. Both aircraft were loaded with explosives from Canadian airports. Flight 301 got saved because of a delay in its departure. Initially RAW was successful in pointing the finger at Canadian Sikhs but the Canadian authorities soon concluded that it was a RAW ploy.

RAW’s Primary Target: Pakistan

Pakistan remains RAW’s primary concern. It runs thousands of agents and spends millions of rupees in its operations against Pakistan. It has made a three-pronged attack against Pakistan in an attempt to destabilise it:-

* Propaganda

* Espionage, and

* Subversion

RAW is totally committed on all these three fronts and is engaged in launching covert operations in consonance with India’s hostile foreign policy. The Jain Commission Report, released by India in 1997, acknowledges that RAW did sponsor the terrorist activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eilam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and violent intervention in Bangladesh. All aspects of Pakistani activities, economic, military, industrial and cultural receive a close scrutiny of RAW. It considers Sindh as the soft under-belly of Pakistan and has therefore made it the prime target for sabotage and subversion. Ashok A Biswas, a Delhi-based research scholar, in his recently compiled study RAW – An Unobstructive Instrument of India’s Foreign Policy, (as quoted by Pakistan Observer in ‘A RAW deal for South Asia, 03 May, 1998) states that ‘the aim of RAW is to keep internal disturbances flaring up and the ISI preoccupied so that Pakistan can lend no worthwhile resistance to Indian designs in the region.’ He concludes, ‘RAW over the years has admirably fulfilled its task of destabilizing target states through unbridled export for terrorism. The ‘Indian Doctrine’ spelt out a difficult and onerous role of RAW. It goes to its credit that it has accomplished its assigned objectives. The Indian government spelling out the task for RAW in this regard has stated, ‘Pakistan should be so destabilized internally that it could not support the ‘Kashmir cause even morally, diplomatically or politically’. Keeping the size of Pakistan in view, the task seems a difficult one for RAW. But it appears, RAW has taken it as a challenge and is working assiduously and speedily to accomplish this task’.

No wonder, with the wily Chanakya as its mentor and the machinations preached in his Arthasastra as their bible, RAW is well equipped to continue waging its war of propaganda, sabotage and subversion. It is for its prime target ‘Pakistan’ to be wary of its macabre game plan of continuing war by ‘other means’ and continue exposing RAW’s heinous designs against us, which are a blatant, utter and naked violation of all human values. And not the least the people and the leadership of India; for as the great poet Ghalib said:

Hue tum dost jiske,
Us ka dushman asman kiyun ho

With a friend like you,
Who needs a foe!

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at

Emergence Of Hindu Terrorism
June 30, 2008, 4:30 am
Filed under: India

Emergence Of Hindu Terrorism

By Subhash Gatade

What is common between Kathmandu – the capital of Nepal ; Thane, Vashi which happen to lie in Maharashtra; Tenkasi, which is part of Tamilnadu and Indore, which lies in Madhya Pradesh? Aprops there seem to be no commonality, although a close look at stray sounding incidents in these places brings forth a pattern which has serious import for the manner in which (non-state) terrorism is viewed in this country. It is disturbing that media which calls itself ‘watchdog of democracy’ and which has no qualms in stigmatising the minority community on unfounded allegations of ‘terrorist acts’ has suddenly gone mute since the perpetrators of terrorist acts in all these cases belong to the majority community.

It need be told that Kathmandu – capital of the newest Republic of Nepal- witnessed bomb explosions outside the Birendra International Centre where newly elected members of the constituent assembly had assembled for the oath taking ceremony. Although nobody was killed and only few faced minor injuries, it was a clear signal that elements opposed to the momentous changes in the Nepalese polity were involved in the attack The local police immediately blamed Hindu fanatics for this cowardly attack.

Close watchers of the Nepal situation did not lose sight of the fact that promonarchy Hindutva forces had even resolved to take up arms for the restoration of Hindu Rashtra. This meeting was held in the immediate aftermath of elections to the constituent assembly and was attended by sympathetic elements from both the countries. It had been organised under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh an international organisation of Hindus, in Balrampur ( India) which was presided over by the ‘firebrand’ BJP M.P Yogi Adityanath.

If Kathmandu witnessed bomb explosions as a violent reaction to the victory of the the Republican forces in Nepal, Indore – the erstwhile capital of the Holkars – witnessed firing by activists of Hindu organisations in full public view. They had assembled there after a rally as a part of celebrations to commemorate the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Shivaji Maharaj as he is popularly known was a great secular ruler of 17 th century in Western India who fought with the Mughals. The firing incident which was covered by the media took place under the watchful eyes of the local police itself which remained a mute spectator and did not even deem it necessary to file a report on this thoroughly unlawful act. The brazenness of the participants in this celebrations was evident also from the fact that they even handed over the guns to the kids present there who also fired in the air.

Ofcourse it was not for the first time that such firing incidents had taken place. Few months ago marches (Path Sanchalan) were organised in different parts of M.P. under the aegis of different Hindu organisations which owe their allegiance to RSS . These path sanchalans were also marked by firings at the culmination of the rallies. And as expected there were no police complaints. Nobody questioned how the lathi wielding swayamsevaks have suddenly metamorphosed into gun wielding Machos out to silence ‘anti-nationals.’ Looking at the fact that many areas in M.P. especially Malwa have always maintained a strong presence of Hindutva forces, one can understand the rationale behind such ‘spontaneous sounding’ firing incidents.

A press conference held in Indore city itself (23 rd April 2008) which was addressed by the former chief minister of M.P. and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh himself had rightly underlined the precarious communal harmony situation in the state. He had even demanded that ‘..[l]ike SIMI, Bajrang Dal should also be banned because this RSS outfit, alongwith some other allied organisations, indulges in bomb making and giving training in making of bombs.He said that he still sticks to his earlier accusation of making of bombs by Bajrang Dal. He said that RSS has retreated after they accused him of slander.” ( The Milli Gazette, 1-15 June 2008).

Perhaps the former Chief Minister was alluding to the discovery of a bomb making factory in Nanded (Maharashtra) at the house of old RSS activist which saw deaths of two Bajrang Dal / RSS workers ( April 2006). Five other members of the terrorist group were also arrested by the police. The most disturbing part of the whole episode revealed how a well-thought out plan to start a communal riot was on the anvil. Apart from maps of mosques in the area police had discovered fake beards or dresses normally worn by Muslims in the area. Further interrogation of the other accused in the case had also made it clear that the same group was also responsible for a few other incidents – namely Parbhani, Jalna, Purna – in Maharashtra where Muslims had come under mysterious attack at the time of friday prayers.

It is a different matter that despite a formally secular government in power in the state, and the police did not deem it necessary to unearth the wider gameplan hatched by the top echleons of the Hindutva brigade. It is common knowledge that the 80 plus year ‘cultural organisation’ and its affiliated organisations maintain strict hierarchy and any such violent action plan on part of its local activists would not have been possible without the involvement of the top bosses of the ‘Parivar’. Neither police used any strong law to apprehend the real culprits nor it tried oppose the bail applications moved by the other members of the Hindu terrorist module.

And today according to informed sources the whole issue of bomb making factory and bursting of a Hindu terrorist module lies buried under the hubris of government apathy and connivance of a section of the bureaucracy.


The arrest of sevaks of the Sanatan Sanstha, a religious group that is behind the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti for planting bombs in theatres at Thane and Vashi brings a new dimension to terrorism. Seven people were injured when one of the bombs the sevaks planted exploded in the parking lot of Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan theatre on 4 June.

Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari, Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre and Vikram Bhave, the four bombers, are all full-time activists of the Sanatan Sanstha, living in ashrams run by the organisation…… ..

Police say that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque or dargah on the Pen highway last Diwali, to check its intensity, but it did not explode. Nikam had earlier set off a bomb in the house of a family in Ratnagiri that had converted to Christianity, and was on bail awaiting trial.

(Terror’s new face, Herald, Panjim, 19 June 2008 )

Whether westen India – especially Maharashtra, Goa – has slowly and silently emerged as a epicentre of a different sort of terrorism ? Bomb explosion in Nanded in April 2006 at the house of a RSS activist and busting of a Hindutva terrorist module and a repeat of similar explosion in Feb 2007 in the same city which also witnessed two deaths could be said to be two major incidents to mark the emergence of homegrown Hindutva terrorism. It is no mere coincidence that three major stalwarts of the idea of Hindutva – Savarkar, Hedgewar-Golwalkar and Bal Thackeray – hail from this area only. And the dilly-dallying adopted by the powers that be vis-a-vis these explosions in Nanded was a clear signal to these forces that they can move ahead with impunity.

And recent events in Thane, Panvel and Vashi rather demonstrate that hardline Hindutva groups which have secretly and surreptiously built a wide network of active and sleeper cells are ready to go to any extent to make their voice heard. Far away from the scrutiny of the police and the intelligence establishment, many such new outfits have sprung up which are indoctrinating a gullible citizenry about their agenda of hate and exclusion under the cover of ‘spiritual gatherings’ and distribution of spiritual literature .(‘Quitely, hardline Hindu outfits build a network across Maharashtra, Goa’ (Indian Express, June 23, 2008)’ Terrorist acts committed by these groups in the above mentioned places and their capacity to indulge in similar acts elsewhere are an indicator that unless they are dealt with firmly they would be able to spread their tentacles elsewhere as well. And the day would not be far of when Hindutva terrorist network can reach nook and corners of the country rivalling the Jihadi terrorists.

Date 31 st May 2008. Venue : Vishnudas Bhave auditorium, Vashi, Maharashtra.

The show of the muchdebated drama ‘Amhi Pachpute’ was already on. Little could the organisers of the drama had imagined that show of another kind was unfolding outside the hall.
Thanks to the alertness and presence of mind shown by people present there, a bomb placed by some miscreants was spotted. A bomb squad immediately rushed in which neutralised the bomb and a major disaster could be averted. Of course, the police neither felt the need to interrogate leaders of ‘Hindu Janjagruti Samity’ which had organised spate of protests against the drama supposedly for ‘hurting religious sentiments of Hindus’ nor ventured to move beyond its idea of ‘usual suspects.’ Left to itself it would have preferred to close the file after some time citing ‘lack of any clues’. But it had no idea that what lied in store for them.

Within next four days a similar feat was repeated. Of course the venue had shifted to Thane, another city in Maharashtra and the location was the basement of the ‘Gadkari Rangayatan Auditorium’ where another show of the same drama was on. Unlike Vashi, here bomb explosion could not be averted leading to injuries to few people.

It was clear to even a layperson that an organised group of miscreants was behind these incidents. Looking at the gravity of the situation the ‘Anti Terrorism Squad’ of the Bombay police was given the responsibility of investigating the case and finding the culprits.

The ATS was successful in nabbing Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari ( Age 50 years) and Mangesh Dinkar Nikam ( Age 34 Years) – fulltime activists of ‘Hindu Janjagruti Samity and ‘Sanathan Sanstha’ – from Panvel (15 th June 2008) and the very next day it caught Vikram Bhave and Santosh Sitaram Angre and charged the four with masterminding the bomb explosions in Vashi and Thane. Police also revealed that these terrorists were also involved in another bomb explosion around four months back when the film show of ‘Jodha Akbar’ was going on in Panvel (20 th February 2008).

The Sanstha denied any knowledge of their activities and said that they did it on their own. It is clear that protestations of innocence cannot be taken at face value and the police needs to thoroughly investigate the affairs of the Sanatan Sanstha as well as Hindu Janjagruti Samity which have been registered as charitable organisations in Goa. Definitely they cannot evade responsibility in the act as their literature talks of ‘elimination’ of ‘evildoers’ and claims that it is a’ religious duty’ to combat and counter ‘enemies of Hinduism’.

The editorial in ‘Herald’ further adds that :

“..[S]anatan Sanstha and the Bajrang Dal, two Hindu fundamentalist organisations that are both linked to bomb blasts, are the main constituents of the broad joint front called the Hindu Janajagriti Samiti, which has been holding public meetings all over Goa claiming Hinduism is in danger, and making provocative speeches.”


According to a writeup in Indian Express ( June 18, 2008) : “..the arrests were enough for Deshmukh to point fingers at the possibility of Hindu groups being involved in subversive activities too. “Normally, when such incidents take place a particular community is suspected, ” the Chief minister said in a statement late on Monday. “But the arrest of two people belonging to a Hindu organisation proves that such suspicions are baseless. Criminal do not belong to any religion.”

Investigations into the antecedents of these arrested activists have revealed that they have had tryst with bombs and violence in the past. The Chief of the Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad told media persons that “Various members of these organisations are being questioned. If their role is found in the planning or execution of these incidents, we will certainly write to the centre and seek that they are banned.” (Indian Express, 23 rd June 2008).

As of now it is difficult to predict how things would unfold but a notable fallout of these explosions and consequent arrests is that at least there is broader awareness about these Hindu extremist groups which work like wheels within wheels, and are quietly mobilising Hindus on a cocktail of Ramrajya, Hindu Dharma and “dharmakranti” – religious revolution. Hindu Janjagruti Samity and Sanatan Sanstha are both registered in Goa as a charitable organisation, a new outfit Dharmashakti Sena was also floated by them in 16 Maharashtra towns and cities on Gudi Padwa day this April. Pictures of its inaugural rally in April show young men dressed in military fatigues.

Herald further adds that (Panjim, 22 June 2008)

Defence of Hinduism is one of the biggest themes in the literature and meetings of the HJS and the SS. The massive 44-volume compilation titled ‘Science of Spirituality’, published by the Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sanstha and ‘compiled’ by Dr. Jayant Athavale, founder of the Sanatan Sanstha, Hinduism is consistently portrayed as being under threat from the forces of Christianity and Islam, aided and abetted by the ‘so-called secularists’, who are seen as traitors to Hinduism. The volumes have titles like ‘Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers’ and ‘Reinstatement of the Divine Kingdom’. Defending the faith against the various purported threats by allegedly anti-Hindu forces is stated to be the primary duty of all true believers.

The nature of this ‘defence’ is spelt out in great detail. It involves identifying those who work against ‘dharm’, making lists of such people, and then moving to ‘eliminate’ them. It is claimed that all this is part of ‘spiritual practice’.

Interestingly all talk of Hindu Unity in the worldview of HJS falls at the altar caste and other regressive practices in our society Believers are exhorted to guide offenders away from the path of incorrect practice. The volumes in the series support the regressive and obscurantist practices of the past, including the caste system, talking repeatedly about the proper role of various castes in society.

While curbing the activities of these organisations or banning them would demand extra efforts on part of the government, as of now there are very many things which can be done to stop their vicious, hatefilled ideas reach a wider cross-section of society. It’s literature itself provides many clues.

For an organisation which is so ultra-sensitive about the slightest imagined insult to Hinduism — imagined or real — the literature of the Sanatan Sanstha is rife with attacks on other religions. Priests are depicted with horns, indicating that they are devils. There are frequent references to the Bible, alleging that it promotes incest and other immoral practices. In September 2004, ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ carried a statement saying that the body of St. Francis Xavier should be destroyed. It has also carried other scurrilous articles about Goa’s patron saint. In November 2005, ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ published an article, ‘Mohd. Paigambar: An incarnation of Tripurasur [an ‘asur’ or demon]’, which led to rioting in Miraj town of Maharashtra, and the imprisonment of the editor of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’.

After having created an ideological framework which creates a fundamentalist mindset and makes it the ‘duty’ of the true seeker to defend the faith against all those who are projected as attacking it, it is disingenuous of the HJS and the SS to disclaim responsibility for the acts engaged in by their members. Ex-members of these organisations talk about the cult-like atmosphere that is created, with unquestioning obedience being stressed. Members are then brainwashed into believing that Hinduism is under siege. Against this background, and with all the talk about ‘defence’ and ‘elimination of evildoers’, it is hardly surprising that adherents begin to explore ways of taking direct action to defend the faith. In this regard, the philosophy of the HJS and the SS is not all that different from the philosophy of terrorists, whom they claim to oppose.
(Herald , Panjim, 22 June 2008)

Of course, if the government is serious about curbing these extremist organisations, it can start with filing criminal procedings against the ‘bible’ of the HJS itself – namely the ‘Science of Spirituality’ under section 153(a) and (B) and related clauses on the basis that it promotes disaffection and disharmony between different communities.

But would it be proper to say that only Western India is witness to the silent emergence of Hindu terrorism or the phenomenon is slowly acquiring a national identity.


TIRUNELVELI: The special police team, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, P Kannappan has arrested three persons in connection with the Tenkasi RSS office bomb blast case.

The investigations revealed that the blasts were planned to provoke a backlash between two groups of different and dominant communities in Tenkasi.Speaking to reporters at Tenkasi on Monday, Inspector General of Police, South Zone, Sanjeev Kumar said on January 24, there was a bomb blast at the RSS office and an auto, parked inside the new bus stand at Tenkasi, was destroyed.

Following this, special teams were formed to nab the accused. Investigations revealed that S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Dharma (26) of Sencottai had planted 14 pipe bombs in the office of Ravi Pandian.

…Moreover, the bomb blast inside the new bus stand was planned to divert the police investigation, said Sanjeev Kumar. ..

(3 arrested in Tenkasi bomb blast case, Tuesday February 5 2008 08:12 IST , Express News Service ( Newindian express))

It is for everyone to see that S Ravi Pandian (42), a cable TV operator, S Kumar (28), an auto driver, both from Tenkasi, and V Narayana Sharma (26) of Sencottai today represent the less reported phenomenon of Hindutva terrorism..For all practical purposes till 23 rd January they remained activists of Hindu Munnani – an affiliated organisation of RSS – engaged in what they seem to be a ‘patriotic’ work.

Today they are the new face of ‘terrorism’ unleashed by the Hindutva brigade.

But not only these three ‘musketeers’, one should add names of four more who were apprehended on 5 th February, identified as A. Balamurugan(20), S. Velmurugan (18), A Murugan (24), all hailing from Tenkasi and Maasaanam (20) of Shencottai. They have been arrested for assisting S. Pandian in making bombs and detonating them at the RSS office and town’s new bus stand. According to ‘The Hindu’ ( 6 Feb 2008) the police even recovered bombs and detonators from them.

Looking at the hierarchial nature of the Sangh Parivar outfits, these blasts would not have been triggered without the knowledge of its top brass in Tamilnadu.

Thanks to the painstaking efforts engaged in by the Mr Kannappan, DIG Tirunelveli range, who did not fell prey to the usual stigmatisation and terrorisation of the religious minorities, and after thorough investigations into the incident (24 th January 2008) which involved bomb blasts at RSS office in Tenkasi and another one at the bus stand apprehended the culprits.

It is now learnt that the Sangh Parivar organisations which fared miserably during the last elections were keen that Tenkasi does a ‘Coimbtore’ and they are able to get few sympathy votes. It may be told that this is the 10 th anniversary of the Coimbtore blasts which had seen deaths of innocents.

A report filed by M.H. Jawahirullah( :
According to Sanjeev Kumar, IG, South Zone, the bomb blast inside the new bus stand was planned to divert the police investigation. DIG of Police Kannappan said the trio tested the capacity of the bombs at Papanasam before executing the plan. Since the bombs contained substances like ammonium nitrate, electric detonators, batteries and timer devices, the explosion was possible within 30 to 40 seconds, said Kannappan.The Investigation is still going on. The Police said 14 pipe bombs were assembled and the operations began from July last year.

There are reports that the Tirunelveli Police have indicated that the explosives used in Tenkasi are similar those used in the Makkah Masjid blast at Hyderabad. It is incumbent that in the light of the revelations in the Tenkasi blasts , the CBI should reinvestigate the Makkah Masjid Blasts and other Blasts which took place in different parts of the country.


General Secretary of Congress Party Mr Digvijay Singh has attacked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and RSS about recovery of arms in Shyampur District Sihore. While releasing a letter to the press which he has written to the Chief Minister Mr Singh categorically stated that members of RSS themselves are engaged in sending swords and knifes to instigate communal violence. The two miscreants from Shyampur who were found to be in possession of arms and were duly apprehended belong to RSS only. The letter specifically mentions that since the accused belong to RSS the chief minister would not take any action in this matter. You are under pressure from RSS also. Mentioning his earlier letter Mr Singh said that Mangilal and Phool Singh were arrested for delivering 24 swords and four knifes at Satyanarayan Bhati’s house on 16 th March. These two persons belong to RSS. Within a few days of the recovery of the arms, minorities in Narsinhgarh and Talen (Rajgarh) came under attack and five people from both the sides lost lives.

The Congress leader mentioned a letter written by Sihore S.P. which says that despite attempts by the police the two accused have refused to divulge the information about the source of these arms. To conclude, the point one would like to emphasise that whether it is possible to link Tenkasi with Vardha or Nanded with Ahmedabad or for that matter Sihore or in our own atomised world view or not ?

(‘Sangh Sends Swords and Knifes’ Bhaskar, Hindi Daily ( 19 July 2007) )

The arrests by Hindu terrorists from Thane and Panvel was followed by a controversial editorial in Saamna – edited by Bal Thackeray – in which he praised Hindu organisations involved in the blast, but asked them to make better “hindu” bombs instead of the low intensity bombs to match those made by “Islamic Terrorists” and explode them in “mini-Pakistans” in India. It also added that to save Hindus, Hindutva organisations need to form suicide squads much on the lines of Islamic terror organisations. According to the editorial, “Islamic terrorism” was “flourishing” in the country and to counter it, “Hindu terrorism” of the same power should be created.

It was quite natural that the provocative utterances received condemnation from a broad spectrum of political opinion – with many parties demanding prosecution of Bal Thackre – but inadvertently or deliberately so it served a dual purpose. On the one hand it helped temporarily deflect the attention of the concerned people from the silent emergence of hindu terrorism and on the other hand it was a tacit acknowledgement of its existence and growth.

Of course looking at the danger it presents before the situation of communal harmony in our country it is high time that apart from strategising against what is known us Jihadi terrorism, we also focus our attention on terrorism which is being unleashed by the majority community namely Hindu terrorism. It is high time that security establishment decides to make a radical rupture from the prevalent understanding vis-a-vis terrorism., polity gathers enough courage to admit its past mistakes and make a fresh beginning and the civil society at large breaks itself free from its community specific prejudices, then only it would be possible to rein in the scourge of of terrorism.

Perhaps few words of advice from a senior journalist like Prem Shankar Jha would be opportune at this moment. In a writeup for Outlook (May 26, 2008) immediately after the Jaipur blasts he said :

..An effective anti-terrorist strategy requires us to look even more deeply into ourselves. The police and security agencies only mirror the prejudices of the majority community and these have become more pronounced in the past two decades. Why has no one in office ever formally expressed regret for the terrible pogroms that have scarred the face of our society—from the ’93 Mumbai killings to the ’02 Gujarat massacres. Why are Indian courts suddenly handing out death penalties by the dozen, with a predisposition to singling out minorities? Indeed, so great has been the bias and so quixotic the rulings that it has provoked Amnesty International into making a scathing criticism of the Indian judiciary.

India’s war against terror has just begun. But security forces cannot fight on their own. If our political leaders and the public don’t do their part, we will find ourselves losing.

A balanced approach would enable us to look at facts with an open mind and would also help us look at minor details or minor clues to reach the perpetrators of such acts. Is not it a disturbing thing that while India is witnessing terrorist actions in different parts of the country but most of the cases the security people have not been able to make any headway in the investigations. Forget cathching the real perpetrators of such acts they are being blamed for the manner in which they have targetted specific community en masse. There have been countless stories of violations of human rights of very many people documented by different people/formations.

Take the case of Jaipur blasts, One still remembers the story of one Vijay who was immediately spotted after the Jaipur blasts, who told the police the name of his other (lady) accomplice, who were supposedly responsible for the blasts. Nobody has heard about Vijay after that incident.

Take the case of Malegaon blast. A few victims told the police that a body with a fake beard was recovered from among the dead bodies. Looking at the fact that in Nanded bomb blasts the issue of fake beard had been raised prominently, the security agencies could have finetuned direction of their investigation, but they persisted in the old manner only. And they did not bother to question the hospital people when they flatly denied that any such body was recovered.

It has been around one and half month that the tragic Jaipur blast took place but police does not seem have become any more wiser.According to Times of India ( 27 th June 2008) “..But as days have passed, suspect sketches, clues and leads once touted as vital have proved worthless and loudly proclaimed theories proved thin. Rajasthan police went on a manhunt in the city’s shanties where Bangladeshi immigrants are holed up. They came back empty handed. ” It also adds “Investigators are not ready to name HuJI as a definite suspect any more and only say its role and that of some Pakistan based terror outfits have not been ruled out.”

Similar is the case of other bomb explosions. The Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast is being probed by CBI. It is almost a year now and nothing concrete has emerged.

Would it be proper to assume that the police or the security establishment have finally decided that after any such incident they would keep moving in circles, leave the issue unresolved and would move to a new issue/incident.

As already stated, perhaps the need of the hour is get out of the stereotyped understanding vis-a-vis terrorism. Perhaps it is necessary that we transcend the habit of stigmatising or criminalising a particular community for all ills of the society. Perhaps it is necessary to ask those questions which were never asked earlier.

It has been quite some time that many Urdu papers have been raising a point about such terrorist acts which merits consideration. It talks of involvement of Israeli-US agents in all such incidents. Looking at the proximity of the Hindutva lobby with Israel, it is also being said that secret Hindu terror organisations are receiving training in Israel. Apparently these Hindu organisations are sending groups of cadres to Israel for agriculture training. But under the cover of this alibi the Israeli special forces are training the Hindutva cadres on bomb handling and fabrication techniques.

The correspondence between a terrorist action and its likely beneficiaries need also be matched. One thing is sure that the more such terrorist actions take place in India, it would further increase communal polarisation ( although it is to the credit of the composite heritage of the country that there have been no communal flareups in any part of the country after such acts, despite provocations from the majoritarian elements) and would help keep India in US ambit. US which has made a mess of itself in mid-east wants to build the US-Israel-India axis to maintain regional hegemony. It frowns upon any regional cooperation of India with its neighbouring countries especially from the mid-east. It is not for nothing that it has consistently opposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

Many commentators have written that Jaipur blasts definitely benefitted BJP in Karnatak elections. Can it then be said that some stray Hindu terrorist group at its own level executed the plan so that another member of the Hindutva family reaps its benefits.


Any peace and justice loving person would admit that the question of (non-state) terrorism needs to be revisited urgently. While our concern about the growing network of Jihadi terrorism is welcome and we should not slacken our struggle against its criminal, anti-people activities/ manifestations, it should be conceded that our approach towards the whole question of terrorism has remained imbalanced or at best partial. One can cite incidents after incidents where the involvement of RSS, Shiv Sena or one of their affiliated organisations can be clearly demonstrated in acts which are considered ‘terrorists actions’ in todays parlance. It is a different matter that ‘Islamic Terrorists’ or ‘Maoists’ seem to be the usual whipping boys for the media or the intelligence people.

Look at the mental image of terrorism which exists in the minds of the people.

Would it be possible to ask ourselves then what could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India ?

Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assasination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. The world at large knows how the Hindu fanatics had planned the murder of the Mahatma and how the likes of Savarkar and Golwalkar were held responsible for creating the ambience of hate which culminated in the gruesome act.

If somebody poses before you another simple query relating to similar episodes in the sixty plus year trajectory of independent India – then what would be your response. Perhaps you would like to add the death of Indira Gandhi – killed by her Sikh bodyguards , killing of Rajeev Gandhi – who fell to a suicide attack by a Tamil Hindu woman, or for that matter demolition of the 500 year old Babri mosque by the marauders of the RSS-VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena. If one follows the debate further you would like to underline the 1984 riots ( actually genocide of Sikhs mainly perpetrated by Hindu lumpen elements instigated by the then ruling Congress Party), emergence of Khalistani terrorists movement or the five year old Gujarat genocide executed with military precision by the RSS and its affiliated organisations.
Compare all these major episodes in the history of Independent india – which encompassed many a terrorist acts within them – with the mental image which conjures up in your mind when one listens to any terrorist act in any part of the country. Does it have any resembelance with the image of a member of the majority community or one of those minority communities ? You would agree that the mental image has features specific to one of the religious minorities in our country.

Question naturally arises why is it that despite their participation in many a gruesome incidents, the role played by them in instigating riots ( as noted by many a commissions of enquiry) or there admission before camera about the planning which went in making a genocide happen (courtesy Tehelka sting operation) the Hindu fanatic who doubles up as a terrorist has not become a part of our social common sense. (To reemphasise one needs to underline that one is not being soft towards the likes of Lashkar-e-Toiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad, their activities are definitely condemnable but how is that every terrorist act in any part of the country is attributed to them and equally dangerours other outfits belonging to the majority community are allowed to go scotfree.)

Perhaps there is no simple answer to this query. One will have to dwelve deep into our past, take a dispassionate look at the anti-colonial struggle and also the tragic phase of partition riots. Simultaneously we will have to discern the threads of our present, understand for ourselves the role of different actors as well as the role of ideologies to reach any tentative understanding. It is for everyone to see that in a multireligious, multilingual country like ours the complexities of the situation are itself immense. We find ourselves in a situation where while ‘communalism’ of the majority community could be construed as ‘nationalism’, every assertion by the minority community on genuine demands tends to be seen with a ‘communal’ colour. And it follows from this that ‘terrorism’ unleashed by the majoritarians is easily disguised under the bursting of ‘pent up anger’ against the minorities.

Of course despite tremendous odds on our way to reach the kernel of truth, we should not feel disheartened in our journey. It is true that forces of hate and exclusion appear more organised today, but we should not forget the fact that there have been n number of occasions when despite provocations the masses did not get carried away with their agenda. We have on our side the glorious composite heritage of our country – which needs to be replenished – and the many silver linings in the otherwise bleak scenario.

Contact :

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at


India’s water wars against China B’desh: Dams and Barrages
June 29, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: India

India’s water wars against China B’desh: Dams and Barrages

India’s water wars against China B’desh: Dams and Barrages
India and Bangladesh are still vying for water, from Teesta (another Indian river enters Bangladesh) and the Ganges. It is noted that India gets 39% of water from Teesta and more than 50% of the Ganges. However, the upper-riparian withdrawal is generally restricted to 20-25% in all resolved water disputes till date including Indus water treaty and the Nile river water sharing treaty between Sudan and Egypt.
Siliguri corridor is vulnerable to an expanding China mapDams and Hydel Projects in Northeast India
While the Northeast rainforests are recognised as a vital global biodiversity hotspot, this awareness in India is conspicuously absent, prompting get-rich-quick developers and politicians to make a beeline for this region in recent years. Naturalists who have visited the areas to be affected suggest that the combined effect of the roads, mines and dams could forever wipe out this region’s unique, fabled, but fragile natural heritage. If the dams are allowed to come up, the extinction of many rare and endangered plants and animals will be a foregone conclusion.

Map of upper Subansiri Norhteast India in Arunchal Pradesh (occupied Chinese territory)

Ironically, it is the historical neglect of the area that has prompted the thirst of locals for what they see as ‘development’ that was thus far reserved for the rest of India. The list below is by no means complete, but it does give an idea of the holocaust in store for the region. By some estimates the profits to be earned by cutting and selling the trees that are slated to drown, may well exceed the construction cost of the dams!

The and Dehang hydel power projects are only some of the large dams that have been proposed in the Brahmaputra valley. These projects alone will require nearly 28,000 hectares of wildlife-stocked forest land and preliminary estimates put the cost at a whopping US $ 200 billion. The Dehang-Debang Biosphere Reserve and the soon-to-be notified Namdapha Biosphere Reserve lie within the proposed impact zone.

The Kameng hydel power project at Tipi threatens the Namheri National Park and the Pakui Wildlife Sanctuary, which have just been brought under the Project Tiger mantle. The Myndtu (Leshka) project in southern Meghalaya involves a 59 m. high dam and will drown over 50 ha. of forests inhabited by tiger, jungle cat and binturong, among other wildlife.

Kemang Northeast India Arunchal Pradesh (occupied Chinese territory)

The Tuirial (funded by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan) and Tuivai projects in Mizoram, the Ranganadi Stage II Project in Arunachal Pradesh, Lower Kopili in Assam, are only some of the hydroelectric projects being constructed by just one company, the Northeast Electric Power Company (NEEPCO). NEEPCO is also constructing the 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project at the confluence of the Tuivai and Barak Rivers in Manipur, near the Manipur – Mizoram border, which will be the largest hydroelectric project in Eastern India and the 75 MW Doyang Hydroelectric Project on the river Doyang in Nagaland.

In addition, the 100 MW Papumpam,105 MW Pakke and 100 MW Dikrong Hydel Projects in Arunachal Pradesh are at the investigation stage. Each could lead to greater loss of biodiversity than the infamous Sardar Sarovar Project.

Conclusion: Aside from a loss of wildlife and biodiversity, the deforestation that accompanies dam building will increase mean temperatures over the region, aggravating climate change. India would be better off looking at less damaging alternative energy options, but this does not concern power brokers who will earn more from the timber sales (all the dams involve clear felling of old growth trees), than from construction contracts.

Comprehensive Environmental Assessments have not been conducted to assess the impact of these projects. Nor have projections been made on the cumulative effect of so many projects concentrated in a relatively small area. Ironically, given the geology of the area, siltation (thanks to geological instability, seismicity and catchment denudation) would probably render the dams useless in a few short years.

Dams on the Ganga
There are two major dams on the Ganga. One at Haridwar diverts much of the Himalayan snowmelt into the Upper Ganges Canal, built by the British in 1854 to irrigate the surrounding land. This caused severe deterioration to the wateflow in the Ganga, and is a major cause for the decay of Ganga as an inland waterway.

The other dam is a serious hydroelectric affair at Farakka, close to the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh, and the tributary Hooghly (also known as Bhagirathi) continues in West Bengal past Calcutta. This barrage, which feeds the Hooghly branch of the river by a 26 mile long feeder canal, and its water flow management has been a long-lingering source of dispute with Bangladesh, which fortunately is likely to be resolved based on discussions held with the new Hasina government in Bangladesh in 1996 when I.K. Gujral was the Foreign Minister in India, Failure to resolve this has caused harm to both sides of the border for nearly two decades now. Bangladesh feels that the lack of flow in the summer months causes sedimentation and makes Bangladesh more prone to flood damages. At the same time, proposals for linking the Brahmaputra to the Ganges to improve the water flow in the Ganges is hanging fire. Also, the water management problem may actually involve a number of other riparian countries such as Nepal (where there has been tremendous deforestation, leading to greater silt content). (Click here to read about causes of floods in Bangladesh [long].)

It is likely that Ganga carried more water around the time of the Roman Empire, when Patna was the major port city of Pataliputra. Even in the eighteenth century the ships of the <!- East India Company would come to call at the port city of Tehri, on the Bhagirathi, one of the main source river of Ganga.

Another dam is proposed to be built on the upper reaches of a tributary of the Ganga, Mahakali, This Indo-Nepal project, the Pancheswar dam, proposes to be the highest dam in the world and will be built with US collaboration.

The upper and lower Ganga canal, which is actually the backbone of a network of canals, runs from Haridwar to Allahabad, but maintenance has not been very good and my personal experience is that it probably trickles out into a small river a little beyond Kanpur.

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at

India’s eastern revolutioneries
June 29, 2008, 2:40 pm
Filed under: India

Assam market blast kills four

West Bengal and Assam map

At least four people have been killed in a bomb blast at a crowded market in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, police say.

Fifty others were wounded in the explosion at Kumarikata in the west of the state near the border with Bhutan.

Police blamed the attack on separatist rebels belonging to the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa). They said the bomb was in response to a truce announced by some Ulfa commanders which the group’s top leaders oppose.


“The bombs exploded when there were hundreds of villagers in the market. This is a serious attack and a very heinous one,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. The BBC’s Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says a number of the wounded have been taken for treatment to the Assam state capital, Guwahati.

Assam police intelligence chief Khagen Sharmah told the BBC the explosion was a “direct reaction” to the ceasefire declaration by some Ulfa commanders. “There is no doubt that such a powerful explosion can be done by only one group in Assam and that is the Ulfa,” he said. Ulfa has not said it carried out the bombing or denied it. The group began an armed rebellion against what it describes as colonial rule by Delhi in 1979. Thousands of people have died in the violence.

An effort to start peace talks between the rebels and the Indian government broke down in 2006. The rebels are seeking a separate homeland for the Assamese people and demanding the departure of the non-indigenous population, particularly Hindi speakers. Earlier in June, some Ulfa commanders started secret negotiations with the Assam government and the Indian army, following which they announced a ceasefire. Top Ulfa leaders say they have fallen into a “government trap”.





Rebels sink Indian police launch


Forty police officers are feared drowned in eastern India after a police motor boat capsized after coming under attack from a suspected Maoist rebels.

More than 50 members of an elite anti-insurgency force were aboard the boat, which was patrolling the Chitrakonda reservoir in Orissa state. The suspected rebels – who have been fighting the Indian government for decades – opened fire from a hilltop. Eight of the officers managed to swim to the shore, but 40 are still missing.

A local Superintendent of Police, Satish Kumar Gajbhiye, told the BBC there were about 60 men on the boat – four of them, including two drivers of the motor launch, from the Orissa police force. The rest were from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Four of the survivors had gunshot injuries and were being treated in hospital, he added. A rescue operation involving fire brigade personnel and helicopters has been launched. But the BBC’s Sandeep Sahu says that the water level in the sprawling reservoir is about 40m (131ft), and there is little chance of any survivors being found. He adds that the incident is one of the biggest setbacks for security forces fighting insurgents in the thickly forested border areas of Andhra Pradesh, long considered a safe haven for the Maoists.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist uprising as the biggest internal security threat the country faces.



Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at

Thousands die in India custody
June 26, 2008, 7:13 am
Filed under: India

Thousands die in India custody

By Chris Morris
BBC News, Delhi

Police outside India prison
Most custody deaths are a result of torture, the group says (Photo: Prashant Ravi)

A new report by a human rights group says nearly 7,500 people have died in official custody in India over the last five years.

The report by Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights says many of these people were tortured in custody.

It says the Indian government is in a state of denial about torture.

Even when action is taken against officials who are accused of wrongdoing, the report argues, the system tries to cover up any crimes.

The rights group has collated official figures and found that 7,468 people – that is four people every day – have died in prison or police custody since 2002.


Nearly all the deaths, it says, were the result of torture.

But the government routinely attributes deaths in custody to illness, attempted escape, suicide and accidents.

Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, says prosecuting responsible officials takes a long time in India, and leads to a “culture of impunity”.

“It takes about 25 – 30 years to prosecute somebody. And by that time many of the accused are dead, or possibly the relatives that have filed a complaint are dead,” he said.

“So there is a culture of impunity which is given by the government of India, and I think this is the single most important factor which is encouraging torture.”

The report also criticises an appalling record of torture among armed groups which fight against the Indian state – highlighting in particular the actions of Maoist rebels.

But the onus is on the government, it says, to improve its record.

Torture, it recommends, must be made a specific criminal offence. And the government should ratify the United Nations convention against Torture without delay.

Contributed by Isha Khan, who can be reached at