India In Slumber : A Nation of Honi M'Agel

by Maloy Krishna Dhar

(August 01, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) In English literature the story of Rip Van Winkle (RVW) is famous. An easy going bum sleeps for twenty years and wakes up to see the world he knew had changed. Less known is the Jewish story of Honi M’agel (narrated by an Israeli friend). He had planted a sapling that would take seventy years to grow and bear fruit. He fell asleep near the sapling and woke up after seventy years to see that the world had changed and everyone rejected him. He prayed to the Lord and the Lord the God took him to his domain. India in slumber has almost reached the stage of Honi even after 64 years of self-rule. Do we only pray to Lord the God for saving our lives and properties? Has the governing system failed?

Unfortunately, the fabric of the society our leaders had laid and the historical legacies we inherited have only completed 64 years. A former Mossad friend commented on phone that India would probably take another 64 years to wake up to witness that the saplings they planted had produced poisonous fruits. They might find the country again disintegrated due to communal separatism, lack of firm governance and vote bank ambivalence. I digested the dig, but could not disagree with him. Like Honi M’agel, Indian rulers are still asleep and presume that political debauchery and secular chicanery would finally bail them out. I was shocked to read and see media rampage where the use of ‘M word’ is treated as politicization of terrorism and as an act of blatant anti-secularism.

This is as fallacious as Honi’s belief that the fruits would ripen in his life time and the fruits would rain nectar. We see no God either to recite Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati Bharata…. etc.

The latest terrorist strikes in Mumbai prove that our political class, the security machineries and other tools of governance of the nation are rusted and the Congress and allies fallaciously believe that ‘resilience’ of the people and financial grants to the dead would solve the problems of jihadist and separatist terrorists. There are reasons to get mad at the nagging repetition of the refrain ‘resilience.’ I would like to share that resilience is the noun form of the verb root resile. One meaning of resile means: Move back in a roughly opposite direction after an impact. Resilience always does not mean elasticity. The media and the political pundits may please keep this in mind.

Dear Honis’ may note that reaction of Mumbaikars and other Indians is not resilience. They are not elastic rubber strips that rebound to original shape after distension. People are compelled to go out of home to earn bread, pursue studies, attend their business and swallow their anger. Anger is not an easily digestible emotion. The media also join the government cacophony and apply spiritual sprays to sooth the anger. If the governments are ready to hear the truth about people’s anger, they may learn about three strains of burning hell-fire in people’s mind: a. accumulation of hatred against a religious minority community; b. lack of confidence in government for failing to restrain the rogue nation of Pakistan; c. anger against systemic failure of the intelligence security machineries and other tools of governance. According to them ‘lack of resilience’ may mean large scale communal carnage and lack of confidence in the present political and governance systems. If rational deductions are drawn from this, it may lead to escalation of ‘Hindu terrorism’, as witnessed in certain incidents. That also may lead to the embedded seed of wider social and national divide and civil strife. No one should forget that creation of Pargya Thakur and Aseemanand type ultras is governed by Newton’s Third Law of Motion: every action has equal reaction. A leader like Digvijay may take fresh lesson from Newton’s theory that is still universally valid.

While media speculation and so-called analyst surmises tried to indeterminately through the blame of Indian Mujahideen (an offshoot of SIMI), Lashkar-e-Taiba, statements about a severed head and wires found on a dead body gave rise to the speculation that suicide bombers had perpetrated the crime. The IM, LeT, HuJI and Kashmir militants have so far not used human bombs. That is the trade mark of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Punjab wing) and al Qaeda. We may have to rethink again if our agencies have not missed the Queen or King on the chessboard of jihadist terrorism.

In the midst of cacophony of confusion certain Muslim organizations have warned the government not to brand any Muslim terror outfit till definite clues were established. Honoring their secular sentiment Chidambaram has ruled that the government was not leaving any option out. If no clue is found than the most convenient goat to sacrifice might be another Modi or Hindu extremists. Certain Muslim organizations in Delhi and central India have already started a whispering campaign on this line. Hope there would be no buyer. I would suggest the leaders to consider if hanging Modi and a few Hindu extremists would solve the problem of jihadist terror in India they might try that as well. The truth is that the flag of Islamic jihad has been perched on the soil of India by historical separatists, and machinations of Pakistan and pre-Hasina Bangladesh.

Some allegations have been made by the Congress against L. K. Advani and other BJP leaders for ‘politicizing’ the tragic incident. It is necessary to understand the cliché ‘political process.’ The Indian state is run on the basis of political processes which not only include the constitution, Acts of parliament, existing laws, and procedure of governance, control of finance and defense and governing instruments. This also includes ability of the state to feed the people, protect their lives and properties and ensure security of the country from internal and external threats. Whether it is an Advani or anyone else, criticizing the government for policy failure does not constitute politicization. It means asking questions about ability of the government to protect the people through the systemic machineries. In case of India it appears that the governing system is losing grip on ‘mass control’ to the Maoists, jihadi terrorists and other separatist elements. They are losing the battle of mind.

Intelligence is a part of the political process, so also the policing instruments. In Indian democracy the instruments of governance cannot be separated from the political policy decision making process. It is necessary to have deep appraisal of the efficacy and capability of these machineries.

A few media friends commented that Advani hinted at minority appeasement by Congress and meaningless resumption of comprehensive talks with Pakistan. I apprehend vast majority of Hindus may agree with ‘hinted nuance’ of Advani if an unbiased poll is taken all over the country; on the issue of alleged minority appeasement. As far as resumption of talks is concerned most Indians wonder what prompted India to offer talks despite Pakistan not responding to India’s outstanding grievances. Some brain-teasing analysts opine that India is surrounded by hostile countries like Pakistan, China, Sri Lank, even Bangladesh. India must talk. USA is not surrounded by enemies; hence it may afford not to talk. Well! I am not a neuro-specialist to certify that such analysts are having periodical waves in their brains, determined by who pays for the Scotch. India could as well internationally isolate Pakistan by refusing to talk, despite US pressure. Can the US press Pakistan to kill all the terrorist protagonists? Obviously not. It can temporarily tighten the money string. Ultimately USA too would succumb to Pakistani blackmailing. What compulsion India has to succumb to Pakistani bullying? Simply because one Manmohan Singh wants peace with Pakistan during his tenure!

If these parameters are considered I would not blame Advani and I would not describe his statement as politicizing the terror strikes. As we said earlier, political policy makers should sit back and contemplate and not let loose leaders like Digvijay to babble out bullshit. Some day he declares Kalmadi and Deshmukh as innocent, some day he whispers that Raja is not at fault and he always sees bad dreams about Hindu ghosts.

Soon after the 26/11 devastation in Mumbai, Chidambaram had proclaimed that huge amounts were invested for improving the counterterrorism measures. Tangible and visible symptoms are, strengthening of the NSG, starting the National Investigation Agency (NIA), establishment the yet stillborn National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) with Raghuraman as chief. The Natgrid is still a crawling baby and has not contributed anything significant to improve generation, distribution and implementation of intelligence. The NIA is a duplication and centralization of the investigation process of the state police forces. It does not add to the intelligence generation capability of the country.

It is believed that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was given sanction to fill up 6000 vacancies which was projected nearly 12 years ago. That projection of 6000 has now become a projection of nearly 20000 personnel in different categories. Very little was added to the technical intelligence assets of the IB. On the other hand, the national Technical Research organization, a fledgling technical intelligence outfit, working under the cabinet Secretariat has centralized most of the Tech. Intelligence operations. Turf war is on. But, IB is at the losing end. Taking into consideration of the size of the country, population explosion and proliferation of internal security threats the IB should have been vastly strengthened by adding man power, sanctioning more intelligence generating gadgets and other resources. Even in problem states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Assam and Naxal affected states the ground spread of the IB is very thin. Even where the total available strength is 100 odd (say in Mumbai), at least 1/3rd of the strength are not meant for intelligence production. They are supporting staff. As is vogue in all government offices less than 40% available man power really apply heart and soul to their tasks. IB training and operations are not adequate for achieving penetrative Human Intelligence, especially in areas where the jihadists nest.

In absence of Human Intelligence and limitations on Technical Intelligence it becomes difficult even in projecting 50% of specific threat perspective. Intelligence Tradecraft is neglected by the field officers. While it is imperative for the government to take a fresh stock of the IB resources, it is imperative for the IB as well to ensure that proper tradecraft trainings are imparted and practiced in ground situation. There should be periodical evaluation of Human Intelligence generation capability from inside the modules and cells of the terrorist organizations. Counter terrorism is a dangerous game of wit. Terrorist are always steps ahead of intelligence. Most IB ground officers lack in tradecraft knowledge and superior wit to beat the terror modules and cells. In most places they do not have even access capability. Hopefully the Home Ministry and the IB would have serious reevaluation of the state of affairs.

As far as police forces are concerned some stark facts are required to be examined. The latest decennial census of India (2011) puts the headcount of the world’s second largest country at 1,210,193,422. India’s 2 million plus strong police forces, highly diverse and decentralized, face 1,210,193,422 multi-faceted problems, which comes to less than one police person per 1,000 people. Crime in India, an annual publication of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, in its latest edition (2009) gives the ‘actual strength of civil police (including district armed police) in 28 states and 7 union territories in India as 1.56 million against a ‘sanctioned’ strength of 2 million police personnel. The armed paramilitary police of 342,447 constituted over one-fourth of the total strength. Seven central police forces—Assam Rifles, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force (including Rapid Action Force and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action acronymic COBRA), Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guard and Sashstra Seema Bal—had 528,000 personnel in 2000. The 2010-11 Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, does not give total strength in absolute numbers, it gives organization-wise battalion strength. The total strength of the Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, the elite leadership cadre recruited by the Union government on the basis of an all-India examination and personality test conducted by the Union Public Service Commission and allotted to various states, was 4,720 on December 31, 2010. Several hundred posts are still vacant.

The Indian police guard 28 states and seven union territories (UT) and an area of 32, 87,782 sq km some of which is not easy to access. While the country’s 14,000 km of land border with six countries—including uncomfortable coexistence with two and numerous operational problems with three—and a coastline of 7,517 km are guarded by the defense forces and specialized central police organizations, the police of the states concerned too come into the picture for micro management of public security.

In case the armed paramilitary forces are deducted from the existing police strength it would appear that India has one policeman for nearly 5000 people. How can effective policing be performed with this kind of civil police strength? The country needs nearly over 3 million additional civil police for appropriate policing. In a burgeoning economy internal stability and law and order play an important role. This cardinal factor is overlooked by the central and state governments. Expenditure on policing is intricately related to steady growth.

Moreover, recruitment, training and motivation of the civil police have been questioned by several experts. At a cursory look a policeman on the street gives an impression that he is pot bellied, sloppy, expert in giving challans, collecting hafta (weekly forced collection) from the traders and street peddlers.

Over the decades civil police strength has shrunk further. With population increase and separation of the paramilitary forces from thana (police station) policing the effective strength of policing has been reduced to 1:5000. This is an alarming situation. Recruitment, training and motivation of the civil police are alarmingly poor. There is rampant corruption in recruitment to lower ranks. A study indicates that in average a constable aspirant has to pay minimum rupees 2 lac bribe. A sub-inspector aspirant has to pay minimum rupees 5 lac as bribe. Besides this the political masters mint money out of recruitment at different levels. In addition to that the politicians demand huge money from Dy. SP to sub-inspector ranks for posting and transfer to ‘lucrative’ stations. Having entered the force by paying huge bribes, the average policeman leans on the pockets of criminals, mafia gangs and common citizen. Collection of hafta from street vendors, shop keepers and common people is a widely spread disease. A dishonest force is a vulnerable force.

The civil police lower ranks are recruited from various backgrounds and are not well trained in investigation, counterterrorism, and gathering ground intelligence from local BCs (bad characters), HOs (habitual offenders) and even watchful community people. Community policing has not been integrated with Indian policing system. A lower rank is not well compensated for nearly 12-16 hour duty. He looks out for ‘extra income’ through devious channels. Moreover, the Indian police have not yet overcome the colonial hangover and treat common citizen as suspects and milking cows.

Several police commissions have gone into these issues but the central and state governments have failed to add new image to the policeman on the street. In rural areas citizens have to bribe policemen even to get a FIR registered. Involvement in criminal activities, including rape has increased during last few years.

The thana police is not trained in combating terrorists. Some states have formed Anti-Terror Squads. Strength of the ATS is microscopic compared to quantum of problems faced by them. They have some intelligence generation capability. But, in overall examination it is found that the state police intelligence units are in abysmal conditions.

Real policing spine depends on beat constables, thana police and the intelligence units of the state police. These are known as state IB, Special Branch etc. Every state capital has a formation of intelligence unit under a senior IPS officer. Every district has intelligence units under the SP/Commissioner. These are different from criminal intelligence department (CID). In some state these are known as CBCID. Unfortunately in most of the states intelligence units are in shambles. Generally misfit, discredited, aged and ill-performing officers are posted in Int. branches. Young, dashing and innovative officers avoid posting in Int. units as this department offers little scope of ‘upri income.’ Such deployments are generally taken as punishment postings.

Police intelligence institutes are not manned by trainers having deep knowledge of tradecraft. In the course delivering guest addresses in certain state police intelligence training schools I was horrified to realize the lack of knowledge in HUMINT, TECHINT, SIGINT, ELINT etc aspects of intelligence gathering. Some officers are periodically sent to central IB training facilities for Basic Courses. My experience indicates that the police officers treat this as paid furlough. They do not take the training seriously. In the recent past some states have taken steps to revamp their Int. units. But state police intelligence units are far behind the challenges emanating from terrorists, mafia dons and existence of terror modules and cells under their noses.

Since the Int. units are not lucrative hubs of policing, both the organizational leaders and the politicians neglect this vital aspect of internal security mechanism. The Prime Minister of India may personally discuss this important aspect with the Chief Ministers and take concrete steps to modernize the police Intelligence units by recruiting young personnel, train and motivate them in intelligence tradecraft and help them in establishing better coordination with civil police and national intelligence agencies. The present system of dumping dud civil police personnel to the Int. units requires serious review. The states require exclusive Int. units as a feeder branch to civil police and ATS. A time has come for separating the pot bellied civil police from smart and motivated younger Int. operatives. The ATS units may generate own intelligence but they require greater input from civil police and Int. units. New thinking is necessary for the state governments to create interactive distinctions between the civil police and In. units of the police departments. Policing and intelligence gathering may be examined under different lenses. Unless this is done it may become impossible for them to penetrate the modules and cells of terrorist organizations. Without penetration HUMINT cannot be generated.

Terror related intelligence has three broad divisions: Strategic- advance intelligence regarding location of terror modules and cells and their foreign linkages; Tactical actionable intelligence-advance intelligence about immediate plan and programme of the terrorists; Research and analysis. While some of these aspects are covered by the IB, the state police intelligence lack in expertise in these aspects of tradecraft.

A penetrative examination of the anti-terror policies of the central and state governments indicates that political policy framing mechanism is obsolete and not proactive.

Simply by cheering the people for maintaining communal harmony, the nation cannot fight jihadi incursion. Sooner than later the walls of patience may collapse. That would be the most unfortunate development for India as Jinnah’s Calcutta Direct Action, the great Noakhali killings and mass genocide during the partition and Hindu reaction to those may revisit and push the country towards throes of crisis.

The political class cannot put their feet- in-mouths and deceive the country by taking advantage of people’s patience and blaming each other. Diseased politicians like Digvijay require more prudence. They may keep in mind Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Each action has equivalent counteraction. Unbridled jihadi terrorism is likely to strengthen Hindu terrorism. Often cynicism makes people indifferent. Like most sand-barrages patience is a fragile barrier. Once it breaks revolution takes over.

In brief, what messages do we get from the jihadi attacks and acts of political and administrative non-action, proxy war that destroy national fabric, infuse separatism in sections of the Muslims; arouse competitive Hindu resurgence and common citizen’s loss of trust in the governing political and systemic tools?
The messages are simple.

• India is not ready to wake up to the reality that all “M-words” are not secular and all “H-words” are not communal.

• The political parties are required to abandon the street-urchin-psychology of opposing every action of political rivals.

• The State of India and its intelligence and police forces are not adequate to meet jihadist threat. India lacks in systemic tools to fight foreign inspired jihadist elements.

• India refused to accept that sections of its own citizen have been subverted by Pakistani and pre-Hasina Bangladeshi intelligence outfits and jihadi tanzeems.

• India has failed to stop Bangladeshi migration flood.

• The country lacks efficient anti-terrorist Act, faster criminal jurisprudence system and united political will.

• Some political parties continue to suffer from appeasement policy that encourage and embolden the jihadists.
• The State of India is unable to thwart foreign intervention in India’s internal security affairs through diplomatic, geostrategic and military actions.

• Muslim separatism is gaining strength and is being encouraged by certain actions and inactions of the governing tools and by machinations of the neighboring countries.

• Jihad has come to stay and grow in Indian mainland trying to defeat the country from within

• Citizens are losing faith in the governing capability of Indian political and administrative systems.

For lack of space I propose only to deal briefly with only two items. The rest would require broader attention and realization of the country as whole for overcoming ideological and political and vote-bank compulsions. National Security cannot be made a part of political ideology and historical day-dreaming of unity of the people. Jihad can be fought with actual understanding of the harsh realities and not on the basis of mantras like “ostrich-secularism.”

Indian States (provinces) are not prepared with trained, equipped and motivated and dedicated Intelligence Wings that can take care of jihadi thrusts. Police Intelligence is simply out of date and not tuned to tackle jihadi and terrorist thrusts. They are caught napping all the time.

The Central Intelligence Bureau can perform well. Their abnormal deficiency has occurred because the governments have failed to give more trained, equipped and motivated manpower to the IB. A Security Assistant in IB is equated with a dak delivery peon, process server and daftary, so is the police constable. Why would a process server risk his life for fighting terrorism? How can the citizenry expect protection from a daftary? The nation should not expect best out of a force that is treated by 150 year old civil administration as chaprasis. Motivation is linked to service condition. Absence of Unified Anti-terror law has impeded the methodology of prevention and investigation. Proliferation of agencies has created jurisdictional turf war.

Political color of the government decide attitude of enforcing agencies to jihadist organizations and situations. A Chief Minister in UP decides in his wisdom that SIMI is not a terrorist organization, though the Supreme Court has told SIMI, “You are a terrorist organization.” The government in Kolkata refused to react till a prominent businessman was kidnapped and part of ransom money was used by the ISI in 9/11 attack on America and attack on US Consulate. Political color should not affect war against jihad and terrorism. Hindu resilience should not be taken for granted.

The madrasas, maktabs and certain schools teach hate-campaign. This is required to be monitored and corrective measures are required to be taken. A section of Muslims in India have been infected by jihadi ideology. This is being exploited by Pakistan. Minority pampering is not the answer. The community leaders must be sensitized that rooting of jihadism may harm them in the long run.

India requires something like Homeland Security Act and ancillary administrative, intelligence and investigation agencies. Today even POTA is not enough. Indian political breed should stop thinking in terms of Hindu-Muslim relationship as it existed between the times of Sir Sayid Ahmad and M. A. Jinnah. If we cannot respond as one nation and one people and at the slightest allegation that only Muslims are being targeted in the name of anti-terrorist actions, India cannot avoid looming greater catastrophe.

The damn truth is: what is happening in India is not terrorism. It is jihadist action directed at dividing India.
Is India prepared to face the facts that the international jihadists and subverted Indian Muslims are trying to impose jihad as the final acts of redemption of Islamic glory that once ruled India?

If that be so, let us compose a requiem to Motherland India.

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