Joint ventures in terrorism

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 27, 2011 19:40 hrs

This book marks a major contribution towards understanding the real story of the Indian Mujahideen as a determined group of terrorist practitioners in India. Its value lies in the fact that author Shishir Gupta’s account goes well beyond being just an authentic and well-documented profile of this group’s origin, goals and activities. He has broadened the narrative by focusing attention on the Sangh Parivar and, arguing on the basis of hard empirical data, contextualising the growth of the Indian Mujahideen against the Hindu fundamentalists’ anti-Muslim activities. This was especially true after the demolition of the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992 and the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat from March to April, 2002. Chapter two, titled “Babri Trigger and SIMI Tinderbox”, is devoted to the description of anti-Muslim violence perpetrated by the Sangh Parivar.

Critics may dismiss Gupta’s attempt to establish a causal relationship between the Parivar’s anti-Muslim activities and the violent reaction and responses of Muslim groups, but Gupta’s formulation cannot be lightly dismissed even as a plausible hypothesis. If a multi-religious society is deliberately and consciously “divided and split” into majority versus minority, the responsibility of the “divider” for creating fertile soil for violence cannot be overlooked.

The Indian Mujahideen was born out of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which was banned by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2001. Once the Indian Mujahideen emerged, the Pakistan army, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and Islamic fundamentalist organisations [Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Al-Qaeda, Taliban and so on] combined for the anti-India Karachi Project that was assigned to the united front of Muslim jihadists.

Chapter four – titled “Lethal Mixture: SIMI Activities, Smugglers, Mafia Chiefs, Subversives and the Jihad Factory” – is devoted to describing how the Indian Mujahideen organised its activities. Islamic fundamentalist outfits have spread their network from Afghanistan to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Pakistan patronised all these jihadist organisations to launch terror attacks against Indian cities and towns as a proxy war against its Enemy Number One.

Chapters five, six and seven provide a detailed description of the training camps of anti-India terrorists located in Pakistan. On the basis of meticulous evidence the author has collected by perusing police reports and confessions made by the arrested terrorists, Gupta has substantiated his main thesis that domestic discord created by the Sangh Parivar and the active involvement of Pakistan have led to a situation where “ISI-Lashkar Global Joint Ventures” are able to target Indian cities with great regularity. Gupta’s perceptive observation is that “once the radicalised boys were convinced that they could not get justice from the political masters … they were even more susceptible to being manipulated by their handlers in Pakistan and Dubai”.

While SIMI was founded on April 25, 1977, the process of recruitment and the hardening of attitudes of religiously indoctrinated jihadists has not come to an end, and the infiltration of the hot-headed Taliban of Afghanistan and ISI continues to guide these Islamic fanatics, who are trained computer hardware professionals and “poor madarsa educated boys who are radicalised by crime mafia bosses” for smuggling large quantities of RDX and weapons into India to be handed over to terrorists. It is well known that monetary inducements are given to jihadists or Hindu terrorists to act as the foot soldiers of death.

It, however, deserves to be clearly stated that every terrorist attack, like the one on July 13, 2011 in Mumbai, has always given rise to ill-founded allegations against Pakistan or Islamic jihadists. Gupta sets the record straight on the point that the Samjhauta Express bombing et al brought into focus the hidden hand of groups like Abhinav Bharat, Vande Matram, Aseemanand and so on. This does not mean that Islamic jihadist groups are not active in India, only that Muslims should not be branded as the sole villains. Gupta has stated clearly that “apart from the overall role played by the ISI and the LeT in the creation of the Indian Mujahideen, political governance is to be blamed equally as it created the conditions wherein certain cities became nurseries for jihadists”. “Most of the members of the Indian Mujahideen … had humble beginnings and no employment prospects,” writes Gupta, so thugs use this reserve army of the unemployed youth for nefarious activities in the name of Islam or Hindu Rashtra.

Unfortunately, Gupta does not contextualise his rich narrative against a bigger picture. For instance, what turns religious believers into fanatics? Why have educated women like Duktarane-Milat in Kashmir taken to jihad? It would have been useful if Gupta had linked his narrative to the big picture of the crisis faced by Islam in the Arab world that has made South Asia the epicentre of jihadist terrorism. The phenomenon of religious indoctrination deserves to be properly analysed since not only are jihadists being manipulated by politicians or army or smugglers or mafias but some mosques and madarsas are also actively promoting the ideology of religion-versus-religion belief systems and the gun is the next step in the armoury of these religiously manipulated jihadists. 

Shishir Gupta
Hachette India : 2011
314 pages; Rs 550

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