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December 29, 2000

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Warning: Strategic encirclement!

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Siddhu Warrier

Yes, it has happened again! The Indian government has suspected the anti-Hrithik and anti-India protests in Nepal to be the handiwork of the ISI. As usual, it has failed to see the bigger hand, a red hand, the Chinese hand.

In the Pakistan-centric, cocooned mindsets of our great policymakers, nobody would want to harm India other than Pakistan. But my feeling is that we Indians must shake our blinkers off (if that's what we've got to do to get our blinkers off), and look at the bigger enemy lying to our north. We have to remember that in China, there is an abundance of both, resources and political will, to cause great trouble for India.

Many may brush aside my opinion as that of a 16- year-old, yet I strongly feel that these protests have been fomented in no small measure by that last remaining socialist (??) bastion. A year ago, people ridiculed Defence Minister George Fernandes when he made a statement about China being India's number one enemy. Magazines called him a 'bull in China shop', and the government made him shut up.

Though it may seem improbable, even incredible to many people that China would attempt to hurt India by such a trivial incident, one must remember that history has proved time and again that earth-shaking events have most humble and unimportant beginnings!

The beginning of the First World War is a case in point. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a demented Bosnian was the match which ignited the conflagration that raged on for the next four years. Neither was the Archduke an absolutely indispensable man, like, say, Lloyd George or Edouard Daladier, nor was he assassinated by an agent of another country. Yet, the Austro-Hungarians managed to see the foreign hand in it, and along with the Germans and the Ottomans, started the First World War.

No, I am not a fatalist who expects World War III to break out as a result of this 'controversy'. But, I do see a greater strategic ramification of this current round of violence.

The violence was over some 'alleged' statement, which nobody has seen or heard, made by, not the government, but by a private citizen. Isn't it clear then that these are murky waters?

But, how did these statements reach the ears of the Nepalese students before we in India even heard of them? If the remark was made on an Indian television channel, which was that TV channel and how come no Indian saw the interview whereas hordes of Nepalese students had supposedly heard it already? How is that such a remark by an apolitical entity provoke such organised protests? Why is it that Kathmandu has to be paralysed because of such a statement? Why is it that Nepalese shops are being burnt on the streets of Kathmandu? Why is that the students who are ruling the streets of Kathmandu are all Leftist?

All these questions, and the testimony of time, clearly indicate that there is more to these protests than what meets the eye.

And it is obvious which power stands to gain from this deterioration of Indo-Nepalese relations: China, hoping for better relations with the Nepalese! The violence following Hrithik Roshan's alleged statement has struck at the very roots of Indo-Nepalese friendship. These allegations have spread so fast and in such an organised fashion and the response has been so unnaturally violent. All this clearly implies that there is some organisation at work in Nepal, which is systematically trying to undermine India's relations with Nepal. And, Hrithik Roshan, who is more popular than probably anyone else in India (maybe even more popular than the prime minister himself at this point in time), is merely a pawn caught in the games 'big boys' play...

It all started -- this Mujahideen business, I mean -- when the Americans and the Soviets slugged it out on the barren lands of Afghanistan. India was caught in the crossfire, as the 'big boys' played deadly games on the chessboard that was 'their' world. And even today, we continue to suffer from that disease of the Mujahideen, spawned by the United States, and nurtured and cultivated to further its interests by Pakistan. And China, as always, was waiting in the background to have another chance to expand its sphere of influence, totally unconcerned about maintaining even a fašade of decency, as has been its norm (since it kicked Chiang Kai-Shek into Formosa) over the past so many years.

But, our policy-makers, who live in their cocoons where Pakistan is the only enemy, and no other country wishes India grievous harm, refuse to see the danger of the expansion of the Chinese sphere of influence by this incident. It is not right to put such acts beyond the Chinese, for the Chinese have a long history of being a blatantly expansionist state, as a former Indian ambassador to China had recently noted. Tibet in 1959, Vietnam in 1979, the USSR during the '60s, India itself in '62, Taiwan every now and then, some islands in the China Sea...the list goes on.

If Nepal also becomes a Chinese ally, and distances itself from India, then Pakistan, China's bosom buddy, will soon set up a much-improved office in Nepal. The infrastructure for such a set-up has been systematically built over the last many years with the proliferation of Muslims and madrassas all over southern Nepal. And then, the strategic encirclement of India will be completed. We shall have the LTTE to the south, the Pakistanis to the west, a not too friendly Burma (remember the Cocos Island military base) to the south-east, China and a newly hostile Nepal to the north -- yes, we shall be surrounded by elements hostile to us.

So, it is time that we give some credence to Fernandes's statements and stop living in a delusionary world where Pakistan is our only enemy... Or else Nehru's tryst with destiny may have indeed been in vain...

But right now, my sympathies are with poor Hrithik Roshan.

16-year-old Sidhhu Warrier is a student from Chennai

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