Thursday, January 31, 2008

“He hounded Taslima out of Kolkata to get Muslim votes” -- Mahasweta Devi

Buddhadeb should resign: Mahasweta Devi

“He hounded Taslima out of Kolkata to get Muslim votes”

Kolkata: Writer Mahasweta Devi on Wednesday accused West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of being a “greater fundamentalist,” than Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for he “had conspired to throw Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen out of the State,” and demanded his resignation.

“Bhattacharjee has said his Gujarat counterpart, Narendra Modi, is a fundamentalist but what is he doing here? He hounded Taslima out of the city to get Muslim votes in the coming panchayat polls in the State,” the Magsaysay award-winning writer told a press conference here. “The Chief Minister is a greater fundamentalist. He hatched a conspiracy to hound her [Taslima] out of the State. He should resign,” she charged, and demanded that Ms. Nasreen be allowed to return to Kolkata. Ms. Devi said she had spoken to Ms. Nasreen, who is staying in an undisclosed destination in Delhi, on Tuesday night and she wanted to return to the city.

“She is ill. Proper treatment was not given to her. As a writer, I demand that she be allowed to return to Kolkata,” she said. She was flanked by Hindi poet Kedar Nath Singh and Bengali poet Joy Goswami. — PTI

Friday, January 11, 2008

Border Trouble in the North East - A Terror Partnership

Pakistan’s ISI is partnering militant groups to foment trouble in the Northeast


The land of armed movements, set on fire by the anti-New Delhi militias, has woken up to a new threat from religious fundamentalists fuelled by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to make Northeast India a volatile region in the continent. The Northeast is no stranger to banned armed groups and their destructive activities, but the recent development where it has emerged that the Pakistani agency has engaged scores of its operatives in the region and also sponsored a number of indigenous armed groups has come as a shocking revelation.

The people of the alienated region of India, which is surrounded by Bhutan, Tibet, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh traditionally pursue a policy of hatred against the Union Government alleging that New Delhi is only interested in exploiting the natural resources of the region but never takes cognizance of the relentless troubles faced by its nearly 50 million population. Even then, they can hardly support the presence of a Pakistani agency in their region, which continues fuelling Islamic fundamentalism consistently beyond their borders.

But unfortunately, for the people of the Northeast, a most influential armed group of Assam has reportedly maintained close links with the ISI. The local media quoting different (government and non-government) sources claimed that the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is in touch with Islamic militants too. Launched in 1979 with the aim to make Assam an independent country, the banned armed group is blamed for numerous killings, explosions and kidnappings and a huge number of extortion cases.

What is appalling for the people of the region is that not less than 20 native militia groups have come closer to the ISI. It was disclosed during the interrogation of an ISI operative, who was arrested by the Assam police in Guwahati recently. More shocking revelation for the entire nation is that the alliance has slowly pushed the insurgent groups into the clutches of Islamic militants.

The Assam police termed it a big catch in its counter-terrorism operations in the Northeast. The arrested ISI operative was identified as SM Alam alias Mujibullah Alam alias Asfi Alam. Hailing from Ajampur village under Uttara police station in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Alam (35) has been recognized as an important functionary of the ISI in charge of Assam and the Northeast.

The police said that Alam was a member of Jamat-e-Islami and Chatra Shibir (of Bangladesh) and joined the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in 1993. The hardcore Bangladeshi national underwent training in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) also. Later he joined Jamat-ul-Mujahideen in 2005 and afterward he was recruited by the ISI. Soon he shifted his base to the restive Northeast in 2006. What was alarming, however, was Alam confessed that 24 militant outfits in the region had maintained communication with the ISI network.

The ISI is viewed as a notorious agency in Indian perspective as it continues spreading terror in many parts of India. However, it is recognised as the largest and most powerful intelligence service in Pakistan. Created as an independent unit in 1948, the ISI officially handles external intelligence gathering for the Pakistan government. Headquartered at Islamabad, the ISI is known as a disciplined army unit with around 10,000 staff members. It however faces allegations of meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbouring countries.

The Indian police have from time to time claimed that ISI was involved in many explosions in the country. The Mumbai police asserted that it had enough proof of involvement of ISI in the July 2006 blast in a local commuter train. The ISI is also blamed for masterminding explosions in many other cities of the country including Hyderabad, Lucknow, Sri Nagar, Malegaon, Varanasi, Guwahati and Imphal.

This reporter tried to contact the officers of the Inter Services Public Relations, Pakistan Armed Forces, of which ISI is a unit, for their reactions regarding the arrest of Alam in Assam. While responding to the phone calls, an additional director (in charge of foreign media) of Inter Services Public Relations only said that the arrest of the ISI operative was not in his knowledge. He assured he would respond later, though he has not done so. Moreover, a query submitted in the ISPR website also did not result in any response. What is significant is that, the officials of ISPR, while responding to the phone calls, did not summarily reject the news that one of their operatives had been arrested in India.

Dr M Amarjeet Singh, a research scholar at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi wrote in one of his articles, "Apart from aiding and abetting terrorism in Kashmir, ISI has also been fully engaged in building terror infrastructures in the rest of India, including in the Northeast, which has long been infested with multiple insurgencies. This attempt to fish in troubled waters of the Northeast poses a formidable risk to India's security."

The Indian security agencies have already gathered evidence to establish that the ISI had been sponsoring violence in many parts of the country. The ISI takes responsibility for supplying sophisticated arms and guerrilla training to several militant groups based in the Northeast.

Brig (Retired) Dr S P Sinha, who served the Northeast for many decades, claimed that the ISI had now formed a new base in Bangladesh to carry on anti-India operations. In his recent book titled 'Lost Opportunities: 50 years of Insurgency in the Northeast and India's Response', Dr Sinha, who led the Gorkha Rifles, also narrated that Pakistan had shifted nearly 200 terrorist training camps from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to Bangladesh.

A senior Bangladeshi journalist supplements his comment. Speaking to this reporter from Dhaka, the journalist disclosed, "The Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) has been actively operating in Bangladesh under a number of cover-ups. In recent months, a large number of former army officials from Pakistan have come to Bangladesh to work for different business groups. Most of the top figures in these companies are either former military personnel or well connected to the Pakistan Army."

The journalist, who sought anonymity added, "Personally I believe, these Pakistani Army officials are not retired personnel. They might be important officials of the ISI. My information is that a huge amount of profit of those companies goes to the hidden activities of the agency. I suspect, the ISI has a significant amount of shares in those companies (including one mobile phone service provider) working in Bangladesh."

"A few companies owned by foreign nationals have emerged as a major base for the ISI in Bangladesh." Naming one, Chowdhury, a pro-Pakistani politician in Bangladesh, the journalist alleged that the controversial person had business tie-ups with these companies. "He (Mr Chowdhury) also has links with many Northeastern militants including ULFA and is suspected to be involved with an armed gang in the hill tracts of Chittagong," the journalist added.

The links of Northeastern militants with the ISI found space for discussion in the Parliament too." Available inputs indicate that some Indian insurgent groups active in the northeastern region have been using the territory of Bangladesh, and have links with Pakistan's ISI," Shriprakash Jaiswal, the minister of state for Home informed Rajya Sabha on December 5. The minister, while admitting reports of alliances among the outfits for tactical purposes of shelter, hideouts, procurement of arms, also added that New Delhi had taken up the issue with Islamabad.

Weeks ago, a reputed US intelligence think tank reported about the ULFA's increasing financial enterprises with Islamic militant groups. Stratfor, in one of its analytical reports stated that ULFA leaders preferred to maintain their financial network with Pakistan's intelligence agency and 'its financial enterprise and strong links with Islamist militant groups have made it a threat that New Delhi will not be able to ignore much longer'.

The report also added that 'though India has largely turned a blind eye to militant groups operating in its far-flung Northeast', the growing Islamisation of the region provides 'more than enough reason for New Delhi to start paying closer attention to its Northeastern border'. Stratfor has been closely monitoring the growing nexus between India's North Eastern insurgent outfits and militant Islamist groups that regularly traverse India's extremely porous border with Bangladesh.

The Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi maintained that ULFA is in the clutches of the ISI and that is why they cannot come for talks. Attending a meeting on internal security affairs, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on December 20 in New Delhi, Gogoi expressed serious concern that the ISI had been trying its best to make the Northeast a hub of terrorism. Gogoi argued that, a grave threat the Northeast is facing, is with the abundant aid and sustenance poured in for various anti-national armed groups from outside the country.

He urged New Delhi to take up the issue of terrorist camps in the neighbouring countries (read Bangladesh and Burma) and expedites the fencing of the international borders, which is now porous. Earlier talking to a New Delhi based television news-channel, Gogoi revealed that the ULFA leaders cannot defy the diktat of ISI as most of their senior leaders are taking shelter in Bangladesh and are at the mercy of the ISI. He strongly believes that ULFA is the prime communicator from Northeast to the international terrorist outfits.

Critical concern on ISI's active involvement in the Northeast has already been expressed in the mainstream media. The Assam Tribune, the oldest English daily of the region in an editorial said "It is a fact that presence of foreign nationals gave a chance to the ISI agents and other fundamentalist forces having roots in Bangladesh to establish their bases not only in Assam but also in other states of the Northeast, which has posed a grave security threat to the nation."

JP Rajkhowa, an Assamese bureaucrat turned media columnist, while quoting intelligence reports, stated that over 20 Jehadi groups including Muslim Tiger Force of Assam, Muslim United Liberation Force of Assam, Muslim United Liberation Army, United Muslim Front of Assam, United Islamic Reformation Movement of India, Muslim Security Force, United Liberation Militia of Assam, Muslim Security Council of Assam, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, People's United Liberation Front, Revolutionary Muslim Commandos, Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Students' Islamic Movement of India, Laskar-e-Taiba etc are active in the region. "All these groups want to carve out an Islamic state of Assam," he commented.

The Sentinel, another important English daily of Northeast commented in an editorial, "We have had occasion in the past to hammer the fact that both the ISI and the fundamentalist and terrorist organizations based in Bangladesh have taken a solemn vow to create a greater Islamic state in the subcontinent by including in it Assam and other suitable areas of the Northeast." It also raised a pertinent question that why did not the Assam government wake up to the threats of the ISI-jehadis and finally gear up 'to break the whole ISI network in the State'.

Posted on January 11, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Extent of Muslim Backlash - A Historical Perspective---By Pabitra Kumar Ghosh

("Itihaser Prekshapote" The Extent of Muslim Backlash Translated from Bengali)

The Rizwanur case has cornered the CPI (M), made Buddhadev Bhattacharya a political untouchable, aroused hopes of getting justice among Rizwanur's family members. However, there is another dimension to the consequence of this case which is far reaching as well as disastrous.

Hindus and Muslims alike have condemned the murder of Rizwanur. Which is why the clamour for justice has been so vociferous, that the government could not suppress it. How could it use its machinations to dodge the seekers of justice? The party that connives at the constitution, judiciary and legislature has been forced to bite the dust. But in the backwaters of all these, the incident is taking an uglier turn in a different direction.

Despite the unified protest of Hindus and Muslims in the Rizwanur murder case, the Muslims are regrouping themselves like never before on this issue. The media are attaching top priority and highlighting the issue. But Muslim leaders are using the case as a catalyst to reunite all strata of the Muslim community.

Although it is scarcely palpable, the attempt to unify Muslims in the state is continuing for a dozen years. The Muslim community felt embarrassed and helpless in the wake of partition because they voted en masse for the Muslim League on Praja Krishak Party led by A K Fazlul Haque, though there were Muslim candidates contesting the polls on Congress on Forward Bloc ticket. Even Quzi Nazrul Islam had contested the election once, but failed to garner Muslim votes.

After the partition, the Muslims began voting for the Congress en bloc. The communal carnage of 1950 might have scared them to some extent. That the Muslims vote en bloc is known to all. After the 1946 riot, the Muslims unitedly voted in favour of the Muslim League which demanded partition and Pakistan. But partition over, the Congress party emerged as the sole choice of the Muslim community. During the Congress regime, the Muslims successfully carved out a separate identity of their own. Small wonder, in 1967 they unitedly voted against the Congress and brought about the end of their rule.

When the office of the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan cast away its old cleavage and changed overnight to the office of the High Commissioner of independent Bangladesh, the documents there of reached the hands of the govt. of India. Then it was revealed how Pakistan used to fund elections in India and issue directives to the mosques to vote for Muslim candidates of its choice on whom funds would be spent lavishly. A little before the 1967 election, Promode Dasgupta himself had visited the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan's office from which he had brought instructions stating the names of the candidates who were to be favoured in the polls, a fact that the govt. of India came to know later.

Pakistan did another mischief. They gave Mr. Dasgupta a copy of the cheque which Atulya Ghosh had received, allegedly of a lump sum amount, from a foreign embassy. The CPI(M) divulged the issue at a time when Atulya Ghosh did not have the time to refute and defend himself. In the election Atulya Ghosh, Prafulla Sen and many stalwarts of the Congress were defeated. This paved the way for Jyoti Basu's entry. Later it was revealed that the cheque was counterfeit.

This unity of the Muslims gradually strengthened. The 70's saw the spiraling price of petroleum products. This strengthened the Muslim countries. From that time onwards there set in a flow of cash from the Arab world to build and renovate mosques. The vasectomy drive and razing shanties adjacent to the Jama Masjid in Delhi enraged the Muslim population. The Shah Imam of Jama Masjid Abdullah Bukhari, began to add fuel to the smoldering anger of the Muslims throughout the country. He urged his community to vote against the Congress. In 1977, both Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Sanjoy Gandhi were defeated in the general elections. Pakistan was delighted as they felt cock-a-hoop with a sense of retaliation against the 1972 war, and a also because they had successfully dislodged Mrs. Gandhi from power.

Even the CPI(M) in West Bengal knew that the Muslim vote bank could bring them to power. The CPI(M) professes atheism, but is sympathetic towards Islam. They heckled different Hindu religious institutions such as the Ramakrishna Mission, but never did anything to the detriment of the Muslim religious organisations. Temples they razed to the ground, but never touched a mosque.

The CPI(M) Govt. as well as the govt. of India helped foster a separate identity for the Muslims. They clubbed the Muslims as minority and always made special arrangements for them. This has engendered the belief among the Muslims that in spite of being Indians, they are different from the rest of the Indians. Thus they have successfully cocked a snook at secularism. In the name of secularism, Islam received patronage. Thus the two-nation theory has been re-established.

In the constitution special provisions have been kept for Muslims. Their personal laws are different from that of ours. Even their system of education has been kept different from ours. In this way the Muslims have come to realize that they can demand everything separately for their own. The Muslim leaders openly declare their identity as Muslims primary, their identity as Indian national secondary. The secularity of our constitution is being ridiculed at every step. The Minority Commission has driven the last nail to the coffin. Both in the centre and in the states a Minority Ministry has been formed. The Govt. of India has decided to take care of the Muslims in particular. No less than 28% of Indians live below the poverty line. Most of them are Hindus. There are members of other communities as well. But only the Muslims will be taken care of irrespective of whether they are economically backward or affluent. Any Muslim can pursue higher studies in the field of Engineering, Medicine, Business Management etc. Their expenses will be borne by the govt. Their hostel expenses will also be incurred by the govt. The Hindus will not get these facilities.

Even in our five-year plans, special provisions have been reserved for Muslims. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has categorically said that Muslims will get a share of the national wealth on a priority basis. The banks have been instructed to grant loans first to Muslim applicants. The West Bengal govt. has set-up a special ministry to sanction loans to the Muslims, the CEO of which is a Muslim.

These measures have contributed to the separate identity of the Muslims. For all practical purposes there is one law for the Hindus, another for the Muslims. The Muslims can encroach on significant stretches of main roads for offering namaz. The Hindus are not allowed to congregate likewise. The Muslims have come to realise how sacrosanct their separate identity is and how dearly they will have to maintain it. Even Muslim children are lured with a sense of uniqueness. They are Muslims first, Indians last.

Notwithstanding the collective protest of Hindus and Muslims against the Nandigram carnage, Siddhiqullah Chowdhury is hell bent to galvanize Muslim radicals to form a united forum to press their demands. Buddhadev Bhattacherya invited the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid to counter the tirades of Chowdhury. The Imam obliged, but failed to wean away support from Siddiqullah and will come again.

In this communally charged atmosphere, the Rizwanur case come up. Once again the Hindus viewed the saga as a clash of social status. The poor Rezwan marrying the wealthy Priyanka was not viewed as a Muslim marrying a Hindu. However, the Muslims utilised this to foment fellow feeling among members of their community. The universal condemnation was manipulated and maneuvered to their advantage to generate sympathy for the Muslims. Buddhadev Bhattacherya and his cops are all Hindus like Priyankas father Ashoke Todi. But the Hindu hoi polloi condemns them unequivocally and unbiasedly. The Muslim view is scarcely appreciative of this non-partisan approach. The Muslim leaders are also reaping rich harvest of the extensive media coverage of the case. In this way the Muslim psyche is being unified.

This is one aspect. Deep within is another force gradually at work and gaining momentum. This is the militant jehadi force which is uniting to assert itself. Bangladeshi and Pakistani jehadi groups enter India through West Bengal and spread themselves throughout India to indulge in subversive activities. West Bengal is a safe haven for them. The Khariji Madrasas of this province give them shelter and are breeding grounds of terrorists and jehadis. They have no dearth of funds. Yet Buddhadev Bhattacherya’ss govt. gives generous donations to them. And that too unconditionally.

There are traitors within. In administration, ministry, bureaucracy, police, intelligentsia, almost every rung of powers that be is infiltrated by the agents and stooges of the jehadis. Which is why no jehadi is ever hunted down except under pressure from the centre. For a long time there has been an attempt to create a united Muslim state comprising Assam, Bihar and West Bengal.

Rizwanur case has provided the Muslims the much awaited opportunity to unite under one umbrella and organise the jehad, forces. Being dissatisfied with the note of congress they demanded Pakistan. Now that role is again being played.

(translated from the Bengali Magazine Bartaman, 25th October 2007 ---- Courtesy East India Watch

East India Network

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Security Tightened at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati After Rebel Threat

Guwahati, Assam(ANI):

Security has been strengthened at the famous Shakti Shrine Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati after a rebel threat.

The alert comes over a week after a suspected Pakistani secret agency ISI’s operative Mojibullah Alam alias Asfi Alam was nabbed in Guwahati, where the temple is located.
Declining to comment on the authenticity of newspaper reports of an al-Qaeda threat to the temple, the police said they are nevertheless taking precautions.

“I would not like to comment anything on the authenticity of the reports. We have got reports (of threats to the temple) and we have received such reports before. There is no need to comment on the authenticity of these reports but it is important we take enough precautions to avert any danger and we are doing it,” said P. Hazela, Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup district.

The temple dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya who represents female fertility, receives devotees from across the country.

A number of separatist outfits including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) are active in the state.

The ULFA says it is fighting for Assam’s independence, which is rich in oil, natural gas and tea. It accuses Centre of taking away its mineral and forest resources while neglecting the local population.

Assam is one of seven states in northeast, a region racked by a number of insurgencies. More than 15,000 people have been killed since ULFA launched the revolt in 1979 in Assam. (ANI)

Dec 26, 2007

Infiltration of Pakistan Trained Islamist Terrorists in West Bengal

Students Islamic movement of India (S I M I) and Harkat-ul-Jehadi –Islam (H U J I) are actively propagating anti national Islamist messages in the guise of a student organization in West Bengal. Funded by West Asian countries, they have established madrasas, libraries, clubs, cultural organizations and N G O S to brainwash unemployed youths and inspire them to engage in subversive Islamist activities in West Bengal.

They are most active in Murshidabad, Malda, Nadia, North and South 24 parganas, employing Jehadis (Islamist Holy Warriors) to indulge in terrorist activities. Their king pin is a middle aged Bangladeshi residing at Shyamuagar in Satkhira. He was trained in a terrorist canp of Al-Qaida in Peshawar. There are S I M I activists of Deobandis of UP, Working as ‘Ansar’ or full time volunteers. They are distributing audio and video CDs, of Safdar Nagori,the general secretary of S I M I, among the youth of this state. Besides, RUPANTAR and TEHRIK, magazines published by S I M I in Hindi and Bengali are also being distributed. Many of these activists were involved in the November 21 carnage according to the information furnished by the C B I to the state police and CID.

This has been reported in the Bengali magazine ‘Bartaman’ on Dec 1, 2007.