People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 17, 2006
Playing With National Security
IF reconfirmation were ever necessary, it has, once again, come. The RSS/BJP have fallen back on whipping up communal polarisation as the only plank they have for their political survival. This, they are now seeking, on the basis of the alleged appeasement of the Muslims by the UPA government, despite the myth of ‘appeasement’ being exploded by the Sachhar Committee findings. Brazenness, negating truth and reality, however, has been the singular virtue of the RSS/BJP. They have given a nationwide call for a campaign on this score for a week beginning December 15.
On the 5th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the parliament, shedding crocodile tears for the nine security personnel who laid down their lives thwarting this attack, the BJP chose to, once again, disrupt parliamentary proceedings. The message they seek to convey is that the present government is ‘soft on terror’. The prime minister’s recent remarks on priority being given to SC/ST, OBC and the Muslims in developmental works is torn out of context as an example of ‘appeasement’. The pending clemency petition of Afzal Guru sentenced to death for his involvement in the attack on parliament is yet an additional grist to the mill of communal propaganda.
If the charge of ‘appeasement’ leading to having a soft approach on terror was serious, then, as we argued in these columns earlier, did the terrorist attacks on the Red Fort, the parliament, Akshardham temple in Gujarat, and twice-hit Raghunath temple in Jammu & Kashmir etc under the BJP-led NDA rule occur because of Vajpayee government’s policies of appeasement of Muslims?
Apart from such absurdities, let us consider some facts.
During the six years of the BJP-led NDA rule from 1998 to 2003, a total of 26,007 lives were lost due to terrorist violence excluding the naxalite violence. This is an average of 4335 lives lost per annum. In the years 2004 till date, after the UPA government took office, 7037 lives were lost at an average of 2346 per annum. These are figures provided by Institute of Conflict Management presided over by K P S Gill. However, fatalities due to naxalite violence have increased since the UPA government assumed office. Compared to 1465 incidents in 2002, in 2005, they were 1608. The number of deaths during this period grew from 482 to 669. This has mainly happened due to militant outbursts in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, both having BJP-led state governments. 60 per cent of the total casualties in the current year have occurred in Chattisgarh alone. Hence, the BJP’s disinformation campaign that the UPA government, allegedly being held to ransom by the Left parties, is responsible for a sharp deterioration in the internal security in the country is patently false.
On other counts as well, such a campaign cannot stand the test of scrutiny. Let us take the current provocation for such a campaign which is the hype being created over the clemency petition that is currently pending with the president of India of Mohd Afzal Guru convicted in the case of the attack on parliament on December 13, 2001. All those who cherish India’s secular democracy would want the law of the land to take its course without any interference. Afzal was given the punishment of death by the concerned courts for his involvement in the attack on parliament. The same law of the land gives any convicted person the right to appeal to the president of India for mercy. This is currently pending. The matter is simple, let the law take its course.
In this context, it must be noted that 22 mercy petitions involving 44 convicted persons are currently pending before the president of India, excluding Afzal’s mercy petition. Interestingly, the mercy petitions of Murugan, Santhan and Arivu convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were sent by the Tamilnadu government to the home ministry on May 4, 2000. The then home minister and deputy prime minister, L K Advani, mysteriously sat on these petitions till the end of the NDA government’s tenure. These petitions were forwarded to the president only in June 2005 after the UPA government assumed office.
The BJP’s charge today is a classic case of the kettle calling the pot black. On December 31, 1999, the foreign minister of the BJP-led NDA government personally escorted three hardcore terrorists and handed them over to Taliban’s foreign minister in Kandahar. Till date, the country does not know why the hijacked plane which landed in Amritsar for re-fuelling was allowed to take-off from Indian territory? Internal security, then, was directly under the charge of Mr Advani.
There were other grievous lapses as well during the NDA rule. By now the failures of both intelligence and internal security during the Kargil war have come to light. A former intelligence bureau chief has gone on record to state that the government agencies were alerted a good nine months before hostilities broke out. For nearly eight months after the attack on parliament, the Vajpayee government kept the army on alert on the border. This was probably the largest peace time army mobilisation ever in history. Notwithstanding jingoistic extortions, this armed alert was quietly withdrawn unnoticed by the nation.
Regarding Afzal Guru’s case itself, it has now come to light that he was picked up in June 2000 being seen as a conduit for the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Ghazi Baba. After being questioned by the special task force, he was mysteriously released. What is worse is that security agencies now admit that nobody kept a track on him. All this happened when the administration was being led and controlled by those very people who today are raising a hue and cry. Worse still are the exposures that have now come to light on the penetration of foreign agencies particularly the CIA in vital military intelligence apparatus of our country.
Recounting all these, however, cannot be a justification for any lowering of our guard. Internal security of our country is non-negotiable. All required measures to strengthen this must be undertaken.
However, such RSS/BJP-sponsored campaign aimed solely at sharpening communal polarisation for political dividend is, in itself, a major contributor to weakening the situation concerning our internal security. For the sake of strengthening India’s internal security, it is imperative that social harmony amongst our people be strengthened. Instead, such campaigns for sharpening communal polarisation for electoral benefit constitute a grave assault on the unity and integrity of our country. For the sake of strengthening India’s internal security, such politics must be democratically and decisively isolated.