- Subhash Gatade
Encore! Mr. Praveen Swamy has 'discovered' the 'usual suspects' once again.
Narrating '[t]he same old, depressing story of incompetence and apathy' behind the Bodh Gaya bombings Swamy has shared with the readers how "[I]ndia’s police and intelligence services knew there were plots to attack the temple." and how ".. jihadists quite publicly announced they intended to attack Buddhist targets. ... From January, Government sources have told Firstpost, the Intelligence Bureau had issued several warnings pointing to heightened risks to Buddhist religious targets in India, as a consequence of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar."
Of course, after giving enough hints about who the perpetrators could be, he has been careful enough to add - supposedly to maintain objectivity of his profession that:
"It’s too early to come to conclusions on who the perpetrators might have been—unlike Internet conspiracy theorists, who’ll be blaming everyone from Islamists to the intelligence services themselves in coming hours. Criminal investigators need evidence, not guesses about motives. There are some pieces of evidence already available, though."
Readers of his erstwhile employer namely 'The Hindu' group of publications can vouch that it is not for the first time that he has done it. They have been witness to his similar write ups, providing enough juicy details of the cross-border connections of these terrorists, after every such terror attack. It is a different matter that later it turned out that many of these write ups were pure work of fiction as it was discovered that the actual perpetrators were Hindutva terrorists only. e.g. Any independent reader can see for herself/himself what Praveen Swamy had written about say Mecca Masjid blasts, Ajmer Sharif blasts and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (all in the Year 2007) and what were the conclusions of the investigators later.
Any cursory glance at the media scene in this country can make it clear that Praveen Swami is not an exception.
It is important to remember this fact because with the bomb blast at Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment and which is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha - the remaining being Lumbini, Sarnath and Kushinagar - the whole debate around terrorism has entered a much difficult terrain.
One expects added caution on part of any of the experts/commentators for another important reason as well. It has been widely reported how in two of our neighbouring countries - namely Burma and Sri Lanka - Buddhist extremists have unleashed a wave of terror against the hapless Muslims. And any such news without proper confirmation that Bodh Gaya, has come under attack of Jihadi terrorists, can make matters more difficult for the minority Muslims there.
According to conservative estimates more than ten thousand people - mostly Muslims have died in Burma where a campaign of ethnic cleansing is underway since 2012. The 153-page report brought out by Human Rights Watch, "All You Can Do is Pray": Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State,” describes the role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Burmese officials, community leaders, and Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population. The tens of thousands of displaced have been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home.
A newspaper like 'Guardian' had done a story on "Buddhist monk uses racism and rumours to spread hatred in Burma" (18 April 2013):
"His name is Wirathu, he calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden" and he is a Buddhist monk who is stoking religious hatred across Burma.The saffron-robed 45-year-old regularly shares his hate-filled rants through DVD and social media, in which he warns against Muslims who "target innocent young Burmese girls and rape them", and "indulge in cronyism ...""Rising to prominence in 2001, when he created a nationalist campaign to boycott Muslim businesses, Wirathu was jailed for 25 years in 2003 for inciting anti-Muslim hatred but freed in 2010 under a general amnesty.Since his release, Wirathu has gone back to preaching hate. Many believe his words inspired the fighting last June between Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, where 200 people were killed and more than 100,000 displaced."
Or look at Sri Lanka, emboldened by the suppression of the Tamil nationality struggle more than three years back, the Sinhala Buddhist extremists, who happen to be the main pillar of President Mahinda Rajapakse, have begun to persecute country's Muslim minority. An outfit named Bodu Bala Sena (BBS - ‘the Army of Buddhist Power’), formed last July in Colombo, is engaged in systematically demonising Muslims, accusing them of eroding Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage. And as one witnesses violence has been promised unto the Muslims. The stray examples described below are an indicator in which directions winds are blowing. Way back in January, right wing Sinhala groups stormed a Law College in Colomb, claiming that its examination results were doctored to favour Muslims
They have called for mosques and dargahs to be razed, ostensibly for being situated too close to Buddhist temples; in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura, during one of these demolition drives, a photographer captured a monk burning a green Islamic pennant that he had pulled out of a dargah’s rubble. The Bodu Bala Sena has closed down Muslim-owned butcheries, attacked a popular Muslim-owned clothing store in Colombo, and forced the government to ban the certification of halal meat; other groups have painted pigs on the walls of mosques. In the town of Dambulla last year, when the chief priest of a local Buddhist temple led a protest to “relocate” a mosque, he warned in the process: “Today we came with a Buddhist flag in hand. But the next time, it will be different.” (To read more on this click here)
A point worth consideration is to look at this particular blast in a more detached way and see for oneself who 'gains' from a 'blast' at this juncture.
Let us take a trip down memory lane and see for oneself what one wants to convey. The Samjhauta Express bomb blast occurred in February 2007 which killed more than 67 people, mostly Pakistanis and which was initially blamed on Islamic terrorists and which was later discovered to be the handiwork of Hindutva terrorists. One may recall that foreign secretary of Pakistan was to reach India merely two days after the tragic blasts and there were news in the paper that the peace process between India and Pakistan would get a new boost with this visit. As expected this bomb blast and the consequent blame game, had a very negative impact on the peace overtures. Thus we can infer that those forces who were opposed to normalisation of relations between the two countries were to 'benefit' from this incident.
Coming to the present juncture, one can see that the saffron camp, despite appointment of its 'most successful Chief Minister' as campaign committee chief, finds itself on the defensive on various fronts.
Forget the Rambo act of 'rescuing' 15,000 Gujaratis from Uttarakhand which added enough egg on their face, or their internal infighting evident to everyone with one of its topmost leaders sending his resignation from different posts as he found himself marginalised in the party; at political level, it stands further isolated because of Nitish Kumar's exit from NDA and the BJP led alliance getting reduced to merely a three party alliance, with no new entrants ready to join this faltering ship. Perhaps the big news is the ongoing investigation in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case under the supervision of the Gujarat High Court, which has led to the unprecedented situation where many IPS level officers of the Gujarat cadre have been chargesheeted and one amongst them is found to be absconding and the possibility that in its supplementary chargsheet few of the political leaders involved in the case getting targeted. One of the accused DIG Vanzara, who is lodged in jail since 2007 for his role in Sohrabuddin encounter case, is reported to have said that he has talked to Safed Dhadi (white beard supposedly referring to Narendra Modi) and black Dhadi (black beard supposedly referring to his close confidant Amit Shah) about this particular ‘operation’. In fact, one of the witnesses to the case, who happens to be a police officer himself in his statement before a magistrate under article 164 which is admissible as evidence is reported to have made such a statement.
To summarise while 24x7 journos have finally 'declared' that the perpetrators are 'Jihadis' just on the basis of few statements made by Al Qaeda or Hafeez Saeed or some Intelligence Bureau alerts (which itself has come under cloud because of the inputs in provided for Ishrat encounter), an alternate reading of the whole act looks more plausible. Look at the various terror acts since last few years and see how they could dramatically change the discourse. And with planners and masterminds of the Hindutva terror still roaming free, it seems possible that some such Hindutva terrorists or some rogue Pracharak (whole timer) from the RSS fraternity who have gathered enough experience in the last decade by their involvement in various terror acts, could have put his expertise to use in this particular case with due help rendered by some similar rogue elements from the IB, which also finds itself on the defensive in the Ishrat Jahan case.
Perhaps a news item which appeared in mainstream media could be pointer to the unfolding conspiracy:
"A day after serial blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bihar’s Gaya district, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday interrogated one person detained in connection with the incident. A team of the central agency arrived in Gaya to investigate the case.Based on a bag found in the temple premises, the police detained Vinod Mistry, resident of the Barachatti block in Gaya. “Vinod was picked up based on certain information. His photo identity card was found in the temple premises,” Abhayanand, Director General of Police, told reporters here. Deputy Inspector General of Police Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Hindu that Vinod is a carpenter who made small furniture.The bag found contained a monk’s robe, a piece of paper with some mobile numbers, medical papers and a voter identity card belonging to Vinod. “He is not a monk. So the NIA is investigating why he was carrying the robe,” a police source told The Hindu..." The Hindu
The press statement released by 'Rihai Manch' - a forum for the Release of Innocent Muslims Imprisoned in the name of Terrorism, which is on Dharna (sit in) in front of UP assembly for the last fifty days to bring Khalid Mujahid's killers to justice - who was killed in police custody - tries to join the dots and points to a conspiracy hatched by the 'Hindutva brigade in association with IB' to wriggle itself out of the mess in which it finds itself.
According to their press release "the manner in which one finds mention of a name called Vinod Mistry in this case and the way in which we are finding that clothes normally worn by Buddhist monks were discovered from his possession and the manner in which letters in Urdu were discovered from the temple, it rather vindicates that it was an attempt to stage 'Malegaon' in Bodhgaya where fake beard was found out and where due to wrong/biased inputs many innocent Muslims were lodged in jail for quite sometime till real culprits belonging to RSS were discovered"
Posing a question 'why Hindutva terror groups were kept out of this investigation' it pointed out the duplicity of IB in no uncertain terms. According to them while investigating agencies have no qualms in stigmatising 'Girls Islamic Organisation' active in Maharashtra as a 'terrorist organisation' and are later forced to eat their words but turn a blind eye to the 'open arms training undertaken by Durga Vahini, an affiliated organisation of RSS, many of whose activists have been found to be involved in terror acts and are languishing in jail.'
Would it be asking for too much that a thorough investigation be done in this case and not only the pawns involved in the case but their patrons are also apprehended.
Subhash Gatade is a New Socialist Initiative (NSI) activist. He is also the author of Godse's Children: Hindutva Terror in India, and The Saffron Condition: The Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India.