By R S N Singh
The desperation to equate Pakistan-sponsored terror with so-called 'Hindu Terror' or 'Saffron Terror' is largely motivated by selfish considerations of very few at the cost of the nation.
There can be nothing more misleading than the oft-repeated refrain of some politicians, professional activists and some journalists that all kinds of terror are same.
The truth is that the objective of each type of terror is different. In the case of Pakistan, it is to bleed India to disintegration and death. The Maoist terror is to expand their writ and finally overthrow the government in Delhi. Terrorism in Kashmir has the objective of secession from India.
What is the objective of 'Hindu terror' or 'Saffron terror'?
Is it retributive terror? Why did this phenomenon of retributive terror not come into being between the years 1990 and 2000, when terrorism was confined to Kashmir and had in fact consumed the region? It did not happen even after Kashmiri pandits were evicted from their homes, to lead a miserable life in temporary camps.
If indeed 'retributive terror' on part of 'Saffron outfits' is a reality, it is because the government was seen by the people to be confused, ineffective, and weak in tackling terror. Is it then retributive terrorism or a law and order problem, wherein certain individuals have taken law in their own hands in self-defence? Probably, in their notion such attacks can be precluded by raising the cost and threshold level, which the state has failed to do?
Even, if one were to term it as 'terrorism', the question arises, are proactive and reactive terrorism the same?
The same constituency of India, which takes strong objection to the term 'Islamic Terror' has no qualms about using irresponsible terms like 'Hindu Terror' and 'Saffron Terror'.
How is it that it is the same people, who are supporting the Maoists and Kashmiri separatists, are speaking so vociferously about the phenomenon of 'Hindu Terrorism' or 'Saffron Terrorism'?
A senior politician, presently in no official capacity and two-time chief minister of another state, sharing threat perception with the ATS Chief of Maharashtra is rather intriguing. It amounts to breach of service rules and the Official Secrets Act. Had the Union Home Minister or the State Home Minister been sharing the threat perception, it was understandable and legitimate. Was there an attempt to influence the ATS Chief?
The timing of fabrication of 'Hindu Terror' is significant. Malegaon-2 in 2008 could not pay much dividends after being milked in the 2009 elections. Readers may look into the headlines of some newspapers and dominant theme of some magazines, which were on an overdrive to exaggerate the phenomenon of 'Hindu Terror'. There was a burst of inspired media leaks during that period.
The same phenomenon is being witnessed today. The newspapers and the magazines are the same. Given their financial and political (can be gleaned from the net) control, it is not at all surprising. The timing, too, is not surprising, as the ground is drifting from under the feet of the current dispensation because of price rise and mega scandals.
Both the periods are characterised by a burst of news regarding 'Hindu Terror'. It will further become shrill if the government continues to be haunted and will disappear, if the threat attenuates. Till then, we Indians are condemned to be subjected of bizarre theories and conspiracies.
When narco-tests fail, confessions by "accused" because of change of heart triumph! If at all, it is a genuine change of heart, the entire phenomenon of 'Hindu Terror' should have been completely unraveled. There should be no need of any further interrogation.
The current challenge is to keep the bogey of 'Hindu Terror' alive and this can only be done by linking the terrorist incidents at Malegaon (2), Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid, Samjhuta Express and Malegaon (1). To link these it is a tall order. Malegaon-2 (2008) and Malegaon-1 (2006) cannot be linked because of various reasons.
In Malegaon-1, RDX was used and in Malegaon-2, crude pipe-bombs. After Malegaon-1, the Maharastra ATS had ruled out the involvement of 'Hindu Groups', and maintained that RDX was used only by Islamic terror outfits. It is pertinent to mention that in May 2006, the police had recovered cache of RDX explosives based on information provided by arrested SIMI activists.
It is a little known fact that before Malegaon-2, there was another very low key blast near the same site, which the authorities have conveniently decided not to mention because it does not fit into the script.
On 28 November 2006, the Mumbai Police said that two Pakistani nationals were involved in the explosions and declared: â€śWe have successfully solved the Malegaon case. We are, however, on the lookout for eight more suspectsâ€ť.
The three accused confessed before a competent authority about their involvement in the conspiracy, but later two of them rescinded in front of a Magistrate on the plea that their confession was not voluntary.
The most bizarre flip-flop by the investigative agencies have been with regard to the blast in Samjhuta Express in February 2007. In July 2009, the US accused Arif Qasmani, of being the Chief Coordinator of LeT for the attack and so did the United Nations. The latter, in fact, named at least four LeT perpetrators.
David Headley's Moroccan wife Outlaha had conveyed to US intelligence authorities about his involvement in the Samjhuta blast and spoke about Headley's links with the LeT. She conveyed to an American official that she â€śfelt she had been used in express train bombingâ€ť. Accordingly, as per New York Times, the US officials had informed Islamabad in December 2007.
The much touted success of the investigative agencies in linking blasts in Samjhuta Express, Mecca Masjid and other blasts to 'Hindu Terror' or 'Saffron Terror' raises more questions than it answers.
While vote-bank politics of some political outfits may have been served, India has lost. The police and the investigative agencies have been politicised and their credibility stands shattered.
Even the newly formed National Investigative Agency (NIA) has been rendered vulnerable to political manipulation. The inspired leaks of Swami Aseemanand's confession and flip flops over it bear testimony.
In terms of India's security, the damage is incalculable. Pakistan, the perpetrator of terrorism in India is now asking India to share the details of Samjhuta blasts. 26/11 and Samjhuta blasts, much to the gratification of vested interests and anti-nationals, stand equated.
As and when Pakistan unleashes, the next terror attack on India, the Pakistan authorities will deny it and demand that it be first establish whether it was 'Hindu Terror' or 'Islamic Terror'.
India's option of punitive action against Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism within the country stands foreclosed.
India is losing the war against terrorism.
RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review.