Incitement to murder

…must be punished

There is an urgent need to crack down hard on ‘leaders’ (especially in Uttar Pradesh) who issue public calls for assassination.

In the Gurjjar stronghold of Sarsawa in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district, Akhil Bharatiya Gurjjar Mahasabha president Chaudhary Virendra Singh has put Rs 5 crore reward on Vasundhara Raje’s head. “The Rajasthan CM is a murderer, responsible for the death of innocent activists,” said Singh. [IE]

The reporter’s next question is truly bizarre.

When asked as to who would arrange for a sum as hefty as Rs 5 crore, Singh claimed that the entire community would collect money to reward “the brave man who would behead her”. [IE]

Non-opposition is costly

The BJP didn’t forcefully counter the UPA government’s communal socialism. It’s paying for it in Rajasthan

Let there be no mistake: those who organised the violent mass agitation demanding entitlements that go with a scheduled tribe (ST) status, including its leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, are responsible for the deaths and injuries that resulted. Surely in a country where Chauri Chaura is taught in history textbooks, public protests involving burning down police stations and public transport buses can’t be called non-violent protests? Mr Bainsla’s claim to a Gandhian parallel—he was fasting while blocking railway traffic—is a macabre parody. The Gujjar riots are not about non-violence. They are about cynical use of violence and the threat of violence to press political demands.

And let there also be no mistake that even ‘non-violent’ tactics that disrupt normal life—blocking railways and holding up traffic—have no place in a constitutional democracy. As B R Ambedkar said, such methods are the “grammar of anarchy“. The political demands that the Gujjar protesters had should have been pressed in constitutional ways: through electoral politics and the judicial system. Arson and vandalism are crimes. Nothing in the Gujjar agitation must desensitise us from seeing them for what they are.

The police and law-enforcement authorities acted correctly. The loss of lives is unfortunate. But the police were not firing on a group of peaceful satyagrahis, but rather, on mobs that were resorting to mass violence. Mr Bainsla and his colleagues cannot escape moral responsibility for these deaths. They also cannot escape responsibility for diminishing the legitimacy of whatever genuine grievances some in the Gujjar community might have had.

These riots have come at a time when tensions between the BJP government in Rajasthan and the UPA government at the centre came to the fore after the terrorist attacks in Jaipur. The Congress Party is revelling at the Vasundhara Raje government’s discomfiture, at the hands of a monster that the UPA government nursed back to health.

It’s useful to be blunt about it. The rhetoric of ’social justice’, ‘reforms with a social face’ and ‘inclusive growth‘ is largely about doling out entitlements based on group identities. The prize—the status of ‘backwardness’, with its attendent benefits in terms of reservations in educational institutions, government jobs, and if the UPA government were to have its way, in the private sector too. The designation of backwardness was subject to electoral promises, not hard-data or economic rationale. Do this long enough and you run into the Gurjjar-Meena clashes in Rajasthan and the Dera Sacha Sauda tensions in Punjab. Continue to persist along this path, and such incidents will be repeated in hundreds of places. [The Acorn, 4 June 2007]

Dr Frankenstein will face his creation eventually, but the BJP cannot escape its share of blame for failing to prevent, or at least draw attention to, the UPA’s larger project of divide and rule. It did complain when entitlement were sought to be handed out along religious lines, calling it minority appeasement. But it remained cynically silent when entitlements were handed out along caste and ethnic lines.

A party claiming to represent the whole of India should have protested loudly inside and outside parliament when the UPA government began its divide and rule project. Why, even a party claiming to champion the interests of the Hindu majority should have protested loudly when its base was being vivisected. If the Congress Party has succeeded in pulling the rug from under the BJP it is only because the latter could not muster up the leadership and courage to speak out against entitlements. As the Gujjar riots indicate, it will have to play the game by the rules set by its opponents.

What’s worse than being attacked by jihadi terrorists?

…receiving bizarre emails from them

The ‘Indian Mujahideen’ have sent an email, from a UK domain, claiming responsibility for carrying out the attacks in Jaipur. They have provided enough details, including the chassis number of one bicycle and video clips of others, that suggest that it’s not a hoax.

So what else do they have to say?

“India should stop supporting the US in the international arena, “and if you do continue then get ready to face more attacks at other important tourist places…

Jaipur has been chosen to blow up your tourism structure….

…this is a clear warning to you (the US and the UK)…Don’t send your people to India and if you do so then you people will be welcomed by our suicide attackers.” [IE]

First, the principal demand is too general to be credible. It appears more like a fashionable, polemical justification of the attacks rather than an attempt to put up political demands.

Second, a group that calls itself the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ refers to India’s ‘tourism structure’ in the second person. Freudian slip?

Third, the location and timing of the bombings clearly were meant to kill local people (although a certain famous Australian hanging out in hundreds of miles away in Goa was duly scared). So trying to warn the United States and Britain by killing Indians is a rather indirect way of going about it, especially because al-Qaeda related outfits have preferred more direct methods.

The email message may well have come from the real perpetrators but is almost certainly designed to mislead public opinion. Those with the capacity to carry out coordinated bombings should also be smart enough to know that such attacks can’t imaginably cause broad changes in foreign policy. The claim that this was an attack on the tourism industry would have been more credible if tourists or foreigners were the principal targets. In all likelihood, therefore, the content of this email is a red herring.

The email came out of the same cybercafe outside New Delhi that was used to claim responsibility for the earlier attacks on Varanasi. That shows a level of brazenness. In November 2007, the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ claimed that they were retaliating against the injustice to Muslims in India, the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots; and also because lawyers beat up the suspects. The ‘Indian Mujahideen’, if it is to be taken at its word, appears to be a rather confused organisation.

Behind the timing of the Jaipur bombings

Why did terrorists carry out attacks in Jaipur yesterday?

Some hypotheses:

1. It’s just part of a long series. They struck when they were ready. Tactically, they set the bombs off on a day and at a time when they would do maximum damage. The venues were chosen to have another go at the “communal fabric”. The weakness of this argument is that by now, everyone knows that they are attempting to spark the communal tinder, and hence, are unlikely to allow it to spark.

2. Like B Raman has argued, the bombing was related to the tenth anniversary of Pokhran-II. That’s why they chose Rajasthan state. This was their way of sending a message that “you might have nukes, but you can’t stop us”. Such a message would be strategically pointless, because everyone knows that. Just like everyone knows that nuclear weapons have not stopped Naxalites, rapists, snatch thieves or drug smugglers either.

3. The bombing is related to the coming round of foreign minister level talks between India and Pakistan, scheduled for next week. It is aimed at disrupting the ‘peace process’. This works to the Pakistan’s disadvantage though, putting Islamabad on the defensive. (Going one level deeper, this might be the ISI’s way to put pressure on the uppity civilian government). But terrorists should surely know that India is unlikely to call off the talks, the prevailing mantra being “we won’t let terrorists disrupt the peace process”.

4. The bombing is related to elections in India. Al Qaeda, for instance, did this at Madrid. But the blasts are too far away from any election to make an electoral difference.

5. It’s back to the bad old days of Pakistan: border firing, infiltration in Jammu & Kashmir, escalation of jihad elsewhere in India. The new civilian government is the good cop and has plausible deniability, and the ISI/Army establishment is the bad cop. It’s a plausible explanation, but it’s a bit too early for this routine to start. One possible explanation is that Pervez Musharraf is demonstrating his usefulness. And he needs to demonstrate his usefulness to Washington for reasons of job security.

6. From an entirely different angle: they were meant to disrupt Indian Premier League cricket. It has already spooked Shane Warne, who plays for Rajasthan, was hundreds of miles away in Goa when the bombings occurred, but is considering the “real option of getting on the plane and getting out of here”.

7. SIMI and its related outfits were demonstrating that despite recent arrests of some of their leading operatives, their organisation and capabilities are intact.

Any more?

Update: Praveen Swami’s report supports hypothesis five

Jaipur attacked

And the fork in the road

A series of bomb blasts killed 80 people in Jaipur. According to the Times of India this is the 21st attack by Islamist terrorists in the last three years.

Here’s what it means: that we will just have to ‘live’ with this new threat to life. Or that we will take the battle to the terrorists.