Rahul Gandhi said that some IB official had told him that the ISI was combing for new recruits in Muzaffarnagar after the recent riots there. Narendra Modi attacked this statement of his, asking how the IB briefed him at all; and also asking him to name the youth recruited. I find these questions of Modi frivolous and silly. Forget how RG got his info. Forget the names of the specific youth. But isn’t it a fact that whenever a community – any community – is targeted, it sows the seeds of dissent within it? It’s not about Muslims alone.
But before I get into this particular subject, let me remind readers that the BJP and SAD had similarly panned RG when he said last year that 70% of Punjabi youth suffered from the menace of drugs. The deputy CM of Punjab had mocked RG the same way that Narendra Modi is mocking him now. But what was proved in the end? ET (http://tinyurl.com/ognz6gt) wrote this on Aug 19th 2013: “Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal lampooned him for being out of touch. But eight months later, the union home ministry has released data that shows Punjab as one of the country's worst affected states by narcotics, seeming backing the Congress scion's assertion. ET has accessed a home Ministry report that puts heroin seizures in Punjab in the three years to end-March 2013 at 813.57 kg, which may be worth Rs 40,000 crore”. Punjab health minister and BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal said (http://tinyurl.com/qevxzcv): “These remarks not only lack reality but are derogatory and defamatory for the youth of Punjab”. So was RG right after all? Who was “out of touch” – Badal or RG? My arguments now will show how RG is perfectly right about his ISI comments as well.
Forget the specifics for a moment. Isn’t it a fact that since 2002, when Gujarat shamed India, Muslims in India have been feeling disillusioned with the BJP? Why only Muslims. Most Hindus were disillusioned after 2002, which is why they threw the BJP out of power in 2004. Isn’t it also true that ISI’s involvement in Indian terror acts has only increased since 2002? And isn’t it also a proven fact that the 2009 Mumbai terror attack was orchestrated by the ISI, most likely as a direct fall out of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom? Isn’t it also true that there have been hundreds of deaths caused by Islamic terrorism since Gujarat happened (780 as per http://tinyurl.com/p32x3t6). Isn’t it equally true that the Indian Mujahideen (IM) first came to light only in 2008, and has since been banned by many countries globally, again largely tapping into the angst of the Muslims post Godhra? Can we then discount the fact that when a community is targeted, it will naturally react in response? And is it questionable that an enemy across the border will tap into this disenchanted lot, especially the youth?
But like I said, it’s not about the Muslims alone. Most Muslims are as peace loving and nationalistic as Hindus are. Any community would react the way some members of the Muslim community did post Godhra. How can we forget the Khalistan movement of the 80s and early 90s, stoked in large measure by Operation Bluestar of 1984? Wikipedia says this “In January 1986, the Golden Temple was occupied by militants belonging to All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal. On 26 January 1986, the gathering passed a resolution (gurmattā) favouring the creation of Khalistan. Subsequently, a number of rebel militant groups in favour of Khalistan waged a major insurgency against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed the insurgency in the early 1990s”.
Do we have any doubts of ISI’s involvement in the Khalistan movement, even till this present date? India Today in its filing of November 5, 2011 (http://tinyurl.com/qachb8g ) wrote: “Wadhawa Singh Babbar remains busy plotting carnage against his home country with his Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI ) hosts. The 65-year-old grey-bearded head of perhaps the deadliest Khalistani terror group, Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), along with his ISI minders, remains engaged in trying to revive the long-defeated Khalistan movement in Punjab”. Again, why blame the Sikhs. Almost all of them are hugely peace loving and nationalistic.
Closer home to Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, isn’t it true that the ISI played with fire when it possibly attacked the Akshardham temple in 2003? Rediff.com reports (http://tinyurl.com/ps684l8) “As Gujarat observed the first anniversary of the Akshardham attack, the crime branch of the Ahmedabad police on Wednesday claimed the sensational terrorist strike was carried out at the behest of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence jointly by the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Tayiba”
I am not even going near J&K, where Pakistan’s ISI is a key player, and where outfits like the JeM (Jaish – e – Mohammad) founded by India’s biggest enemy Maulana Masood Azhar – incidentally released by the BJP government at Kandahar in December 1999 – has been aided and supported, morally, militarily and financially by the ISI.
See RG’s statement in this context. ISI will surely attempt to play in Muzaffarnagar’s minefield. This does not mean that the Muslim youth will fall trap. Hopefully the Indian and UP governments will be able to assuage the hurt feelings (BJP may win this region electorally, but someone will have to bring peace back) of the people here.
One last point. It sounds really strange that a man accused of genocide in Gujarat should take up the cudgels on behalf of those killed in the very same genocide. It is farcical and laughable. For Modi, attacking RG is his priority. Thanks to his good oratory, he gets away most of the time. But the reality is that RG said nothing wrong. Rahul Gandhi was perfectly right. And no matter how hard Modi tries, he can never talk himself into the good books of the Muslims. Not until he makes genuine amends to his thinking. But if any BJP leader does that, we know what the RSS will do right? (Remember Advani’s Jinnah remarks?!).
The real truth is that forget the IB official who told RG whatever he did. Forget the names of the youth who ISI approached. The BJP, uncomfortable with the reality, is bound to divert attention towards such minor details. The fact is that the BJP’s communal politics does in fact increase opportunities for the ISI to fish in our internal matters. Be that in Muzaffarnagar or elsewhere. No one can deny that….