Is talibanised South the Swat Valley of India?
by B R Haran on 14 Mar 2009 7 Comments

After Islamabad’s peace deal which allowed Taliban to takeover Swat Valley, the latter took out a massive two-day rally, openly denigrating democracy and establishing Sharia. As a mark of things to come, a Geo TV journalist was murdered in the immediate aftermath of the takeover. While the connection between Al Qaida and Taliban is no secret, India’s most wanted criminal, Dawood Ibrahim, has also reputedly struck a deal with the Taliban.

The spread of Taliban into the interiors of Pakistan and its nexus with extant terror outfits is confirmed by the latest ambush on Sri Lankan cricketers. The attack exposed the failure of intelligence and security, the complacency of the Army, and the incapacity of the security forces to meet surprise challenges by terrorists.

The rogue state of Pakistan, the most potent breeding ground for terrorists, is now experiencing terror attacks on its own soil. The present government, which came to power on a ‘sympathy wave’ following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, is wanting in all areas of governance. It can neither control the ISI, nor the terror outfits, and in fact surrendered the Swat Valley to the Taliban. Pakistanis in general have been too willing to accept the Wahabi order and Sharia. In a nutshell, Pakistan is a failed state!
Pakistan’s talibanisation has evolved slowly since Partition. Having declared itself an Islamic State, it ensured that the minorities were driven out, liquidated, or converted. At times, even Shiites, Sufis and Ahmadiyas were not spared as Wahabi Sunnis took control of the country. While clandestinely supporting Taliban and Al Qaeda, Islamabad enjoyed American patronage on the pretext of assisting the latter in Afghanistan, and used US largesse in its machinations against India, from the Kashmir Valley to all corners of the nation.
Jihadi attacks

Successive Indian governments, committed to minority appeasement, have failed to realize that this breeds separatism and that “indoctrinated” elements are working against the nation. The fundamentalists have increased and jihadi “sleeper cells” have come up in several states in concert with Pakistan’s ISI.

The advent of the UPA government led to a sharp rise in sleeper modules and the rejuvenation of SIMI under different names, such as ‘Indian Mujahideen’ (IM), and a plethora of terror attacks on Indian soil. UPA’s inefficacy in tackling terrorism resulted in two dozen ‘major’ terror attacks (excluding Kashmir) – from a bomb blast on 15 August 2004 in Assam to the Mumbai carnage of 26 November 2008. Major cities and towns such as Ayodhya, Varanasi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Malegaon and others were affected, and thousands of innocents lost their precious lives, while many more were injured, some maimed for life.

Yet the UPA was naïve enough to withdraw thousands of troops from the borders and facilitate terrorist infiltration through buses and trains in the name of Confidence Building Measures (CBM). It also almost surrendered the Siachen post, but timely intervention by the Chiefs of Armed Forces and BJP top brass staved off this calamity.

Pakistan as co-victim

The UPA inexplicably dubbed Pakistan as a “victim” of terrorism and proposed a “joint mechanism” against terror, when Pakistan is the main “perpetrator” of terror against India. Its concern for Muslim votes not only tainted its Pakistan and Kashmir policies, but also the anti-terror policy and decisions on national security. The Prime Minister did not blush saying he lost sleep over the plight of terror suspects.

Most astonishingly, the UPA invented something called “Hindu Terror’ and “Saffron Terror,” which served only to dilute the fight against jihad. At the fag end of its term, it took the grim carnage at Mumbai and the deaths of hundreds of innocents for UPA to sober up.

But is it awake?


Dr. C. I. Issac, delivering the P.A. Ramakrishnan Memorial Lecture in Chennai on 8 March 2009, dwelt extensively upon the fast-breeding Talibanisation faced by Kerala. He cited various instances over a period of time and exposed the aiding and abetting of Talibanisation by political fronts. This writer had a short discussion with Dr. Issac regarding a similar trend in Tamil Nadu. As both states share a vast border from Nilgiris and Gudalur to Coimbatore and from Theni to Thirunelveli and Kanyakumari, it is not a surprise that both have become a breeding ground for fundamentalist elements. 

There has been a surge in the growth of Jihadi elements in Tamil Nadu in the last two decades. When a countrywide ban was enforced on SIMI, the Tamil Nadu unit took the avatars of “Al Umma” and “Jihad Committee” and Al Umma made its first major strike at the RSS HQs in Chennai in November 1993, killing 11 swayamsevaks.

The Jihad Committee, which has been regularly indulging in communal riots in the state, disintegrated when its leader Palani Baba was murdered. Thereafter the TMMK (Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam) was launched in 1995, giving a political colour to Islamic fundamentalism. It was founded by Hyder Ali, a SIMI activist and former associate of Palani Baba in the Jihad Committee, who left Al Umma after a tiff with its president Basha.

When Al Umma was banned for the Coimbatore blasts in February 1998, it changed colour as ‘Manitha Neethi Paasarai” (MNP). Thus, neither the banning of SIMI and Al Umma, nor disintegration of the Jihad Committee, reduced Islamic fundamentalism in the state. In fact, it started growing in different avatars with the support of Dravidian parties, which go to any extent for the sake of votebanks. 

There is a general feeling outside the state that Tamil Nadu is normally peaceful and that terror attacks are confined to the RSS HQs attack of 1993 and the Coimbatore blasts of 1998. The reality is that between 1993 and 1998 there have been several terror attacks, to cite but a few:

1] Wife of a Dalit-Hindu activist died in a blast in Nagore on 4 July 1995.
2] Blast in Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple on 18 May 1996; TMMK leader Naina      Mohammed and Sait Saheb, Raja Hussain and Fakrudin (cadres) arrested.
3] Bomb attack on Doordarshan Kendra’s Thanjavur office on 6 June 1997.
4] Scores of bomb explosions occurred within 20 months prior to the Coimbatore blasts.
5] On 6 December 1997 bombs exploded in Coimbatore-bound Cheran Express, Madurai-bound Pandiyan Express and Allepey Express in Trichur.
6] On 10 January 1998, a bomb exploded on Anna Flyover in the heart of Chennai city.
7] On 18 September 1997, five Hindu activists murdered in different places; three fundamentalists arrested.
8] On 9 December 1997, a cycle bomb exploded in Coimbatore suburb killing three women; Sultan Nazar and Abdul Quayum arrested. 

The growth of Islamic fundamentalism was apparent during the DMK regime between 1996 and 2001. Though the law and order was comparatively better during AIADMK rule between 2001 and 2006, clandestine operations continued and sustained fundamentalism. This became evident when five MNP cadres were arrested on 22 July 2006 in Coimbatore (DMK came back to power in May 2006) on charges of plotting serial bomb blasts similar to the 1998 blasts. The five were acquitted on 9 February 2008 on grounds of being arrested on false charges!

Besides, half a dozen cadres of Al Umma were suddenly released from Palayamkottai prison in May 2006, within days of the present DMK government taking charge. During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and visarjanam (immersion) processions, the TMMK habitually creates hurdles in many places. The worst incidents occurred in 2007 in Thammampatti near Attur in Salem district, where hundreds of innocent Tamil Hindus were arrested on false charges and it was alleged that state police committed human rights violations against arrested Hindus.

Regarding the release of Islamic fundamentalists by the DMK, Indian Express (8 August 2006) reported, “senior Policemen in Thirunelveli were shocked by what they termed the DMK Government’s ‘blatant sympathy’ for the Muslim fundamentalists.” This misplaced sympathy for the sake of votebanks is allegedly the reason behind the government’s refusal to appeal against the acquittal of Abdul Nazar Madani in the Coimbatore blasts case.

With the release of these fundamentalists from various prisons, Muslim pockets have begun to be Talibanised. A good example can be seen in Muslim-dominated ‘Melvisharam’ in Vellore district, where the dominant community refused civic amenities to non-Muslims of ‘Keezhvisharam,’ who have to depend on Melvisharam for anything. Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy approached the Madras High Court and later the Supreme Court to order a separate Panchayat status for Keezhvisharam, to save non-Muslims from dependence upon the oppressive Muslims of Melvisharam.

Dr. Swamy commented, “Islamic theology does not classify nations according to percentage of Muslim population, but according to the nature of the majority - whether it is united and aggressive or divided and passive. India is in the latter category, and hence even where Muslims are less than five percent as in Tamil Nadu, in pockets in the state where Muslims are in majority such as Thondi in Ramanathapuram district or Melvisharam in Vellore district, Muslims have established Dar ul Islam where Hindus are denied all civic amenities and live de facto as dhimmis.” 

With Talibanisation comes the oppression of women. A woman running a tea shop and another working in a local beedi factory were waylaid and murdered in broad daylight in Thirunelveli, for trivial reasons, in the name of religion. Indian Express (26 March 2007) reported, “the police spoke of Al Umma, the fundamentalist outfit which had become weak after the arrest of more than 100 of its members in the Coimbatore case, which under the DMK regime had been rejuvenated and was trying to enforce edicts on the Muslim community in the districts of south Tamil Nadu.”

Recent events in Pakistan, particularly after Mumbai 2008, pose a real threat to India. Fundamentalists took out a huge rally in Calicut, Kerala. Though ignored by mainstream print and electronic media, the Tamil daily, Dinamalar, reported (19 February 2009) that the Popular Front of India (PFI) organised a massive “National Political Conference” in Calicut from 13-15 February 2009. Whether coincidence or planned, the Taliban simultaneously took out huge rallies in Swat Valley. The conference was attended by members of PFI from 16 states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and Delhi. Its ‘theme’ was “Power for People”!

At the conference, seminars for students and NRIs were conducted separately. Leaders from various politics-oriented Islamic outfits participated; one seminar was titled “Political power and Alternatives.” A seminar “against” terrorism was inaugurated by Magsaysay Award winner and Human Rights (sic) activist Sandip Pandey, and attended by ‘secularists’ like Swami Lakshmi Sankaracharya from Kanpur, advocate Prashant Bushan and Chennai-based Prof. Arunan. Secularist Kavitha Srivatsava, president, PUCL-Rajasthan, inaugurated the seminar on “Women power in politics”. National Ulemas organised a seminar on “Religion in granting power”. Sri Goya, editor, ‘Tejas’ chaired a meeting of media persons. A seminar on “Reservations” was also held. PFI’s National Political Conference culminated with a massive rally and public meeting attended by over two lakh people. 

On 17 February 2007, The New Indian Express, Chennai, reported: “The ‘Q’ branch of the state police is now concerned about the formation of a new Islamic outfit, ‘Popular Front of India’ (PFI), a coordinated effort between three organisations – Karnataka For Dignity (KFD), Karnataka; Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP), Tamil Nadu; and National Development Front (NDF), Kerala. The new organisation was launched on Friday (16th February 2007) in Bangalore, ‘to coordinate & strengthen grassroot level developmental activities throughout the country,’ followed by an ‘Empower India’ conference in the garden city. Though the organisation’s agenda has been well spelt out – democracy & social justice, the state police fear that the organisation had been set up to propagate hardliner ideology. A ‘Q’ branch official had said, ‘What is worrying us is the fact that a majority of the leaders of this new front belonged to the now banned SIMI’. The decision to launch Popular Front of India (PFI) has been taken at a conference of KFD, MNP & NDF held on 22 November 2006 at Calicut. The leaders of PFI include K.M. Shareef, President of KFD, Gulam Muhammed, leader of MNP and Abdur Rahman Baqari of NDF and they have decided to confine their activities to South India’.

A close look at the choice of words in their nomenclatures tells us how cleverly they are getting into mainstream politics! Soft and gentle words like Dignity, National, Development, Manitham (Humanity), Neethi (Justice), Popular and Munnetram (Improvement or forwarding), have replaced hardline words like Jihad and other Arabic or Urdu words. They claim to work for Democracy, Social Justice and Development! Similar nomenclatures were used in the just-concluded Calicut conference. The MNP attempted to take out a rally in Madurai last Republic Day; wall advertisements put out by the outfit allegedly carried the figure of the JKLF-Flag. MNP is also alleged to be the new name of banned organisation Al Umma, just like the TN unit of SIMI changed itself to Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam after the Centre banned SIMI.  

On 26 July 2006, Indian Express carried a report on MNP indulging in ‘conversion’ and conducting classes in the name of 'Arivagam' to brainwash new converts, especially scheduled castes, to train and recruit them to Jihadi squads. The MNP is reportedly active in places close to the Kerala border (Theni, Coimbatore, etc), so it can connect with Kerala-based NDF easily. Investigations of Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai blasts reveal that Kerala has been a permanent and save haven and a training ground for Islamic terrorists who have been sent on Jihadi missions from Kerala to Kashmir. Just last month, the TMMK inaugurated its political wing in the name of “Manithaneya Makkal Katchi” meaning “Humane People Party”! The leaders of these outfits have also participated in the Calicut conference. 

There seems to be a sudden surge of Islamic outfits to capture or share political power in India. While pseudo-secular politicians use the term ‘Talibanisation’ for utterly irrelevant episodes and outfits, Muslim-dominated spaces are getting increasingly Talibanised. This is an ominous sign and the next government has a heavy responsibility on its shoulders.  

The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai


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