(June 18, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Rediff.com has reported as follows: "The long-pending investigations into the three-year-old Mecca Masjid blast case on Thursday (June 17,2010) moved forward with the Central Bureau of Investigation producing two suspects RSS pracharak Devender Gupta and his accomplice Lokesh Sharma in a special CBI court in Hyderabad. 14th additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate remanded the two to the judicial custody till June 30.A CBI team brought the two from Ajmer jail on a prisoner transit warrant......Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma, prime accused in bomb blast in Ajmer Dargah, were in Ajmer jail for the last one and a half months. CBI sources said that they will seek the custody of Gupta and Sharma to question them about their role in the bomb blast in Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007. 15 people were killed in the blast during Friday congregation and subsequent police firing. CBI says that it was on the look out for two more suspects Sandeep Dange and Ramachandra Kalasangar alias Ramji. "
2. The investigation is still on-going and the final charge-sheet against the accused----all members of the Hindu community--- is still to be filed. The investigation made so far points in the direction of suspected targeted attacks on Muslims and their places of worship by some individual elements in the Hindu community as acts of retaliation for jihadi terrorism in different parts of India.
3.The fact that some of the arrested Hindu suspects had alleged links with the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and other allied organisations has given rise to fresh allegations regarding Hindu terrorism. Prominent office-bearers of the RSS have done well to dissociate their organisation from the alleged acts of terrorism of the arrested individuals and express their support for the investigation against them to move forward vigorously.
4. Retaliation by a State against a State sponsoring acts of terrorism through surrogate terrorist organisations and against terrorist organisations which let themselves be used by a State are permitted under many UN resolutions against State-sponsorship of terrorism against another State. Such acts by a State are categorised as amounting to indirect aggression. There are instances of States retaliating against another State or in the territory of another State in order to make the sponsorship of terrorism by a State or acts of terrorism by an organisation from the territory of another State prohibitively costly.
5.The US air strikes in Libya in 1986 were an act of State retaliation for the terrorist attack on some US soldiers in a West Berlin discotheque by suspected terrorists allegedly sponsored by Libya. The US Cruise missile attacks on suspected Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and the Sudan in 1998 were acts of State retaliation against a terrorist organisation for its suspected involvement in the explosions of August 1998 outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. There have been such acts of retaliation by Israel too.
6. While such acts of selective retaliation against another State and terrorist organisations in their foreign hide-outs can be justified depending on the circumstances which led to the retaliation, no law----domestic or international---permits an act of retaliation by a State or organisation or individuals in one's own territory against one's own co-citizens.
7.There has been no universally accepted definition of terrorism, but it is agreed by terrorism analysts that the indiscriminate killing of civilians by using an explosive device in a public place is an act of terrorism. Thus, the members of the Hindu community who have been arrested and are presently under investigation have indulged in acts of terrorism against Muslims if the facts alleged against them are proved in a court of law.
8. Calculations of what we call vote bank politics ---- electoral dividend or the lack of it---- should not be allowed to come in the way of the thorough investigation of the charges against the arrested persons There are two kinds of violence under the law----- violence in the heat of the moment in exercise of the right of self-defence and pre-meditated and pre-planned acts of violence. There is no excuse under the law for pre-meditated and pre-planned acts of violence-----whether they amount to terrorism or not.
9. Any perception that the investigation against the arrested Hindus is not being done as vigorously as the investigation against Muslims suspected of terrorism would weaken our case against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and provide an excuse to organisations such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM) for indulging in more acts of terrorism. The statement disseminated by the IM before its blasts in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007, alleged that the Indian criminal justice system is unfair to the Muslims. Any perception of a lack of thoroughness in the investigation against the arrested Hindus would add substance to this allegation of the IM.
10. It is in the interest of the RSS and allied organisations to strongly support such a thorough investigation and make it abundantly clear that they do not support acts of retaliation in our territory against our co-citizens.
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )
Anti-Muslim Reprisal Terrorism? - by B. Raman
"Some sections of the Muslim community suspected that this attack ----like the other attacks targeting members of their community--- must have been the responsibility of Hindu extremist elements. There was no basis for their suspicions, but they persist. The only way of removing their suspicions is through a thorough investigation and the definitive identification of all those involved. The many missing links in the investigation of this strike as well as in the terrorist attack on the Mumbai suburban trains should be a cause for concern. Targeted attacks on innocent Muslims by Al Qaeda and other jihadi organizations is nothing new. Such attacks take place often in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But, in those countries, the attacks on Muslim civilians are generally due to one of two factors. Either the targeted Muslims belonged to a rival sect (Sunni vs Shia or Deobandi vs Barelvi) or rival organization or were perceived as collaborators of the Government and hence apostates. None of these factors applied in the case of the Muslims----Indians and Pakistanis--- who were traveling by the Samjotha Express. The conventional wisdom was that the Muslims were now being deliberately targeted by the jihadi organizations in order to provoke them against the Government and the Hindus. I do not subscribe to this wisdom. It is important to keep an open mind while investigating these targeted attacks on Indian Muslims and one should not jump to the conclusion that the LET or the HUJI must have been involved. We owe it to our Muslims, most of whom have kept away from Al Qaeda and other pan-Islamic organizations, to see that these cases of targeted attacks on Muslims are thoroughly investigated instead of coming to a facile conclusion that jihadi organizations must be behind them."
-----My comments on the terrorist strike in the Samjotha Express in my book "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" published in June, 2008, by the Lancer Publishers of New Delhi (www.lancerpublishers.com)
"While there are grounds for suspecting that the blast of Delhi and those of Agartala might have been carried out by the IM ( Indian Mujahideen) and its associates from the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Delhi and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) of Bangladesh in Agartala, the blasts in Modasa and Malegaon seem to stand apart. Though the Gujarat Police are reported to have detained some members of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) during their investigation of the Modasa blast, the Modasa and Malegaon blasts do not carry any unique signature. More evidence will be required before one could analyse as to who might have been responsible. "----From my article of October 2, 2008, titled "Mushrooming Terrorism: Now Agartala" .
In the last three years, we have had at least seven terrorist strikes in different parts of the country in which the perpetrators seemed to have targeted innocent Muslim civilians. Those seemed to be not indiscriminate attacks on all civilians, but targeted attacks on Muslims. There were two such incidents in Malegaon in Maharashtra and one each in New Delhi, Hyderabad, in the Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan, in the Samjotha Express to Pakistan and in Modasa in Gujarat.
2. On the basis of the available reports, I had myself stated after five of these strikes---- but not after the Malegaon and Modasa incidents of September 29,2008--- that they seemed to have been carried out by terrorists belonging to jihadi terrorist organisations. I had also referred to instances of jihadi terrorists deliberately targeting innocent Muslims in many countries in pursuit of their agenda.
3. Some months after the Ajmer Sharif incident, a young Muslim officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) had met me privately and expressed his doubts as to whether Muslims would have been involved in these incidents. He strongly believed that no Muslim however extremist he might be and to whichever jihadi organisation he belonged would have planted a bomb in or near the Ajmer Sharif.
4. I did not feel convinced, but felt somewhat troubled by what he said. I felt that as a senior (though now retired) officer of the IPS, I owed it to him and other young Muslim officers of the IPS to take note of what he said and re-open my mind. It was in pursuance of this that I made the above-mentioned observations in my book.
5. Who carried out the pre-September 29, 2008, terrorist strikes, which seemed to have mainly targeted innocent Muslims? Where they the acts of the usual jihadi organisations or are they the precursor to acts of reprisal terrorism against members of the Muslim community by some irrational elements in the Hindu community? These questions, which were already being raised by sections of the public----Muslims as well as non-Muslims--- even before September 29, have re-surfaced following the publication or dissemination by some sections of the media of reports claiming that the Anti-Terrorism Cell (ATS) of the Mumbai Police have detained three Hindus in connection with their investigation into the recent Malegon blasts. The ATS itself has neither officially denied nor confirmed these reports.
6. The matter is in the initial stages of the investigation. To instill confidence in our Muslim community, the ATS should see that the investigation against these Hindus and any others associated with them is carried out thoroughly irrespective of their organisational affiliation. Religion is not a mitigating factor in deciding on the culpability of a person suspected of involvement in a criminal act. If they are proved to have participated in the acts of terrorism in Malegain and Modesa, the fact that they are Hindus would not make them any the less criminal or terrorist.
7. Indian criminal laws----the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code--- do not talk of the majority or the minorities or even of Indian citizens or foreigners. Their provisions apply to anyone who commits an offence in Indian territory---whether he or she is an Indian national or a foreigner, whatever be his or her religion, language or ethnicity. The arrested persons must be investigated and proceeded against without worrying about their background or organisational affiliation.
8. Do these arrests strengthen the case for a ban on the Bajrang Dal or any other organisation to which they might have belonged? Or do they at least call for a characterisation of such orgainsations----even if they be of Hindus---as terrorist organisations? To characterise an organisation as a terrorist organisation and to take legal action against it ----and not merely against its members---- two types of evidence are required. Firstly, that its constitution or manifesto advocates the resort to violence amounting to terrorism for achieving its objective. Secondly, that it has been involved in repeated acts of pre-meditated violence which amount to terrorism. One has to wait and see whether such evidence surfaces during the investigation.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)