Men in uniform: A salute from the nation
by Sandhya Jain on 28 Nov 2008 10 Comments

Commando operations to free hostages and capture or kill the remaining terrorists are still going on in Mumbai at the time of writing this piece, hence it would be difficult to comment upon the terror attack with accuracy.

What we do know is that 14 police officers, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Mumbai's Additional Commissioner of Police (East) Ashok Kamte, and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, sacrificed their lives unhesitatingly at the first hint of trouble in the coastal city.

This was in the finest tradition of Indian men in uniform. The police is the citizen’s first line of defence when things go wrong, and Mumbai’s force acquitted itself with honour.

All the unhappy events of the immediate past are forgiven, but sadly cannot be forgotten as they continue to cast a shadow over the present. Mumbai’s police might have caught the terrorists moving into high-profile hotels with gruesome equipment, doing a recce of the city’s hot spots before the midnight terrorism of 26-27 November burst upon a sleeping city, had they been allowed to do their job professionally.

Instead, in a cynical exercise to garner minority votes which have taken to shopping for political bargains in other markets, the ruling NCP-Congress, backed by the UPA at the Centre, cooked up a story of Hindu terror and tried to equate it with the monstrous international jihad that is tearing the nation to bits. Had there been even a whit of truth in the allegations, the truly effective method of unveiling the Hindu (sic) conspiracy would have been to alert the Army and ask it to undertake a thorough investigation, instead of going around arresting, and trying to arrest, all officers known to have links with leading Hindu families like the Savarkars.

A real conspiracy involving the Army should have been investigated quietly and handled discretely by court-martial, instead of scandalizing the reputation of the one institution that citizens respect. Only a cynical alignment of sleazy politicians and ingratiating bureaucrats could have cooked up this puerile story, which fell apart with every narco-analysis, brain mapping, lie detector test, computer data, and endless list of bizarre suspects!

This is the time to speak loudly for the men in uniform. To his credit, one television anchor late Thursday evening did recall the Batla House encounter in Delhi, in which a gallant police officer sacrificed his life and another battled for his in hospital for several weeks. Yet, without a minute’s thought for the grieving family – whose son had to come from hospital to light the funeral pyre and return the same day – two ugly human rights viragos sat on a dharna and called it a fake encounter! They received instant support from all secular quarters, and this leads to the suspicion that the “fake encounter story” was envisaged elsewhere and peddled as part of a larger conspiracy to destabilize India.

As funds for these shrill jholawallahs invariably come from the West or Saudi Arabia, it is time to have a national law stringently monitoring the ingress of foreign funds, their end-use, and relationship with anti-national activities.

An urgent imperative is to give the men in uniform their due. The Sixth Pay Commission has hurt citizens across the country – with its needless gratification of the IAS lobby which is widely perceived as the root of all corruption in the country, especially political corruption, which is not possible without a sleazy bureaucrat’s brainy inputs. It is time to give a higher ranking to the Defence Forces, the Police, the Para-military forces, fire fighters, coast guards etc – in short, the men who defend and rescue us in every unfortunate crisis, and who we are encouraged to forget in time of peace. File pushers don’t deserve the status they have wrested in independent India; they got it because Jawaharlal Nehru needed a civilian force to suppress all political and intellectual dissent in the country. As the nation struggles to remember its erased history, a beginning should be made by putting these parasites in place.

As Mumbai comes to terms with its current grief, some things need to be done fast. The ATS case against Sadhvi Pragya, Lt. Col. Purohit and others, has neither credibility nor credible evidence – indeed, there is no case at all. Citizens should demand the government and the courts immediately drop all charges against the accused and close this sordid chapter for once and for all.

On our part, we who have always believed that the ATS was misused by political masters to shatter the inter-State police cooperation that was giving the jihadis a run for their money – a sinister plot doubtless conceived in a foreign capital – will do our best to ensure that the accused accept closure and do not file defamation cases against the ATS and the State Government. In fact, we favour a “Pardon Clause” in the law, whereby police officers who detain and interrogate persons for terror crimes in good faith, are not made culpable if those arrested turn out to be innocent. The war against terror cannot be won by shooting at our own side, and politicians who indulge in such antics should be immediately denied the luxury of Category Z security. 

Meanwhile, police suggest that one of the captured gunmen was from Pakistan’s Faridkot district, and that the phones recovered from a boat containing the dead body of the leader of the terrorists had foreign SIM cards. The murder of the commander just prior to the attack is one of the great mysteries of the case.

The high quality coordination that went into planning and executing the attack that has already killed 101 persons and wounded over 300, in some of the toniest quarters of the metropolis, suggests commando training. Foreign governments are the natural suspects, and India is a notoriously soft state. For sheer inanity and mediocrity, I do not know whether to rate Dr. Manmohan Singh higher than Mr. Rahul Gandhi, or vice versa.

The simultaneous attacks on the railway station and domestic airport and other places frequented by foreigners (nine places in all), strengthens conviction regarding the military precision behind the selection of targets, and possible victims, mostly Americans or British. A man in the Harbour Bar of the Taj Mahal hotel said the attackers were not interested in French or German guests; this suggests they were after citizens whose countries have armies in Iraq. The Jews at Nariman House were another target, and this is interesting. 

The attack may give America, Israel, and Britain an excuse to go after another oil-rich nation in the Gulf (no prizes for guessing which). It may also prevent amity between New Delhi and Islamabad, mooted by President Asif Ali Zardari with his surprise declaration of no-first-use of nuclear weapons against India. The remark is not as off-the-cuff as projected, and follows a signal from President-elect Barack Obama that the US will be shifting its attention from the failures in Baghdad to new vistas (and failures) in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Observers believe there is an American objective to occupy parts of Pakistan in order to face China in Tibet. Yesterday, Ms. Radha Rajan, editor,
www.vigilonline, suggested she would not be surprised if Washington moves to create an East Timor-like situation in Tibet once the Dalai Lama passes away. She pointed to the Westernisation, de-racination, and covert conversion among the Tibetan youth.

To this I would add only that in Dharamsala, many key persons in the so-called freedom movement have Western Christian wives (and no doubt foreign passports), which suggests a heavy degree of penetration of this exile community. And, as the Government of India slept, Israeli Jews moved in and created the entire communication system of the township, and connected it by satellite to the outside (read Western) world. We both believe that Beijing’s awareness of this reality (the CIA has been hand-in-glove with the Dalai Lama for decades) is behind the methodical transfer of population in Tibet – time will tell.

Of course, Islamabad can hardly view an American ingress with equanimity; hence President Zardari’s swift move to cover his flanks with India. But diplomacy alone will not work unless Pakistan in turn cracks down on the mercenary jihadi gangs that are funded either by the ISI or other foreign governments, to keep the international jihad largely confined to India. If he means business, he will have to wipe out the bases on his territory to demonstrate good faith, as the Myanmar Generals did with Prime Minister Vajpayee.

It may be pertinent to mention that in recent weeks there has been a whispering campaign to the effect that fearful of losing power, the ruling conglomerate at the Centre will use some pretext to impose Emergency and perpetuate itself (and its imbecile offspring). This may not be pie-in-the-sky because this evening one of the more idiotic television studio regulars – with close emotional ties to the ruling combine – actually said that elections should be cancelled and restoration of law and order be made a national priority! How convenient. 

To return to Mumbai, five terrorists and 14 police personnel, including officers, have died in the operations so far. Army and Navy commandoes are in the city, along with NSG commandoes from Delhi.

Politicians and secularists who saw the action on their television screens in the safety of their homes, should now tell us where is the matching Hindu Artillery – the heavy machine guns, AK-47s, grenades, et al? Where are the professional gunmen? If Army men were involved in the Malegaon bomb blast, why were they not direct killers; why only peddlers of RDX (an allegation withdrawn soon after it was made)?

Many questions remain with us. The fact that the terrorist-commandos came in two unmarked motor boats, probably via Porbander, with explosives and other weapons, smacks of a military operation. If it did not have a foreign policy objective of an external power, what was its purpose?

Someone has declared war on the Indian State. Else, a proxy war is being fought in the Indian State. Either way, we need to protect our sovereignty with a fitting response. Those who do not have the stomach for the fight should get out of the way.

The author is Editor,

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