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November 13, 2000

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Varsha Bhosle

Hidden Patterns

What I do best is collate information and draw inferences therefrom. The week after I wrote about the threat to Kashmir's Shia community in The Sipah-e-Sahaba factor, Shia leader Agha Sayeed Mehdhi was assassinated in a landmine blast at Magham. The murder has been owned by an unknown outfit called Laskhar-e-Karbala, supposedly an off-shoot of the Hizbul Momnin. Angry Shias -- raising anti-militants, anti-Pakistan and anti-government slogans -- went on a rampage on Baramulla Road where they set houses ablaze and killed one person. Curfew had to be clamped in the Shia-dominated areas of Kashmir to prevent sectarian violence. The Hindustan Times noted,"The violence that erupted after Mehdhi's killing could leave the community in Kashmir more vulnerable in the future."

Now, I have another set of events for you to assimilate:

  • In August, 1999, the ISI set up an independent detachment at the Dera Sahib Gurdwara close to the Indo-Pak border in Narowal district in Pakistan. The unit was constituted soon after the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandak Committee came into being, with former ISI chief Javed Nasir as its chairman, to manage the gurdwaras in Pakistan. Pak-based Wadhawa Singh and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, heading the Babbar Khalsa International and the Khalistan Commando Force, respectively, began frequenting the gurdwara.

  • On March 20, 2000, during Bill Clinton's visit to India, 35 Sikhs were massacred in Chattisinghpora by 20 men in army fatigues. The killers told the villagers that they were soldiers, lined up the men in two groups, and started firing while shouting Jai Mata Di and Jai Hind. One killer took swigs from a bottle of rum while the firing went on.

  • On May 10, Representative Edolphus Towns told the US Congress that "despite the Indian government's efforts to blame Pakistan and alleged Kashmiri militants for the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora, an independent report clearly and unambiguously had placed the blame where it belongs -- on the Indian government... The Indian intelligence service, RAW, are responsible for the massacre of Chattisinghpora." The "independent report" was one composed by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation. It also said that "Pakistan has nothing to gain by ordering militants to massacre Sikhs in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan had steered clear of this kind of act during 10 to 15 years of militancy in the area" and that the people of Chattisinghpora "did not believe that militants had any hand in this incident."

  • In July, Towns published a list of attacks on Christians indicating "the pattern of Indian terrorism against its minorities" and demanded that "India should be declared a terrorist nation." Towns, who is regularly provided material by the Council of Khalistan headed by Gurmit Singh Aulakh, alleged that the Chattisinghpora massacre was the handiwork of the Indian government. (The White House dismissed the allegation saying there is absolutely "no credible evidence" of any government involvement in the massacre.)

  • In September, Pak-based Khalistanis joined hands with the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, a number of them infiltrating into certain pockets of Punjab, travelling via Kashmir and Nepal. In Batala district, two HUJI terrorists engaged in a fight with the BSF -- this being Punjab's first militant encounter since 1993.

  • In the last week of October, in a massive operation spread over three days, the Delhi police arrested 8 Pakistani terrorists and seized 15 kg RDX and 50 kg high-grade heroin worth Rs 50 crores in the international market. On an intelligence tip-off, the police laid a trap and nabbed three saboteurs, who revealed the whereabouts of five more accomplices, who further admitted that they had brought the explosives and heroin from Pakistan and that they had been involved with the Babbar Khalsa in India.

  • On November 7, the Punjab police arrested four Babbar Khalsa terrorists while they were crossing into India from Lopoke area. Explosives, weapons, fake currency and heroin worth Rs 9 crore were seized from them.

  • On November 8, the Jammu police confirmed a three-way nexus between Kashmiri and Punjab militants and the ISI, with the arrest of three Khalistan Zindabad Force (Panjwar Group) militants from Kathua. All were working in league with Kashmiri militants. They've been identified as Hardev Singh, Sartaj Singh alias Raja, and Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha. Lakha was a dismissed CRPF constable; Raja was a frequent visitor to Pakistan and used to smuggle arms and narcotics for Kashmiri and Punjab militants.

  • On November 7, the "prime minister" of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, called for a joint anti-India "freedom struggle" by Kashmiri Muslims and the Sikhs of Punjab. In a speech to a group of Indian Sikhs living in Europe and the US and now in Pakistan to visit gurdwaras, he said that Sikhs and Kashmiris had made great sacrifices and should unite to "snatch freedom." "We have to go along together. Now it is time to step up the movement in Kashmir and Punjab... Minority communities in India have suffered, showing it was a Hindu dictatorship rather than the world's largest democracy." "We look forward to the day when both Kashmir and Khalistan will gain independence," said Sukhwinder Singh. "Both nations are fighting for independence," declared Harbinder Singh. Chaudhry said both communities should forget "mistakes of the past" [ie, the massacre of Sikhs by Muslims during Partition] and unite for "a common cause" [ie, the destruction of the community for the protection of which Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life].

It was around the time of the US Congressional supplication that the attacks on the Indian Army vis--vis Chattisinghpora began in earnest, with the publication of a series of articles by Pankaj Mishra. No, I didn't find the details "wrenching," because "tragic scenes of sorrow, rage and bewilderment" drawn with a seditious purpose don't wrench me. No, I didn't race for my keyboard, either. My confidence in the army's innocence is based on the fact that during Operation BlueStar, many units disobeyed storming orders -- for the army consists of a large percentage of Sikh officers and jawans. In the planning of an operation of the scale of Chattisinghpora, how could the Sikhs have been kept unaware or silent...? Can you imagine how many Surinder Singhs would have emerged by now? Why would the army destroy its already low credibility with such a stupid act? For the political reason of convincing Clinton about Pakistan's designs? Naaah...

I'm certain about the killers, too. On June 11, one report said, "The [US] administration officials privately say they believe that the Harkat-ul Mujahideen is responsible for massacre of 35 Kashmiri Sikhs on the eve of Clinton's arrival in New Delhi that set the tone of American pronouncements on Kashmir during his South Asian trip. A senior State Department official told this writer that there is clear evidence against HUM. When pointed out that it would have been the height of folly on part of any group or their alleged backers in Pakistan government not to realise that far from inviting US involvement in Kashmir dispute, it would create an opposite effect and international revulsion, as it actually did. 'Yes they are that stupid,' he responded in an agitated voice." No, not the Organiser, but M Afzal Khan in Pakistan's The Nation.

Secondly, the Institute for Conflict Management, an autonomous, non-governmental org that explores solutions to conflict and violence in South Asia, stated, "The perpetrators of this massacre was a joint group from the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Hizb-ul Mujahideen outfits." The institute was set up by its current president, Mr K P S Gill.

Thirdly, that scourge of the Indian Army, The Hindu's Praveen Swami, wrote: "Few people in the village believe stories claiming that the assailants were Indian Army soldiers... the villagers, unlike Lashkar-e-Taiba cadre indoctrinated on stories of Hindu and Sikh barbarism, know that soldiers do not wander about on operations with bottles of liquor, shouting religious slogans as they fire. The terrorists evidently acted as they thought Indian soldiers would, a caricature that finds repeated mention in Lashkar-e-Taiba literature. The organisation's website even proclaims that Gurkha soldiers eat their dead parents' bodies."

Swami writes that just before the firing began, a villager recognised one of the killers and asked him, "What are you doing here, Chattiya?" Chattiya opened fire. The villagers pointed the Anantnag Police to every Muslim whom they suspected of a role in the killings; Mohammad Yakub Magray, nicknamed Chatt Guri, was one. The J&K police SOG broke Magray, who turned out to be a Hizbul operative with the code-name Zamrood. On the night of the massacre, Magray admitted to having travelled with Lashkar's area commander, a Paki code-named Abu Maaz, to Chattisinghpora. Maaz had initiated the action on instructions from Pakistan.

On March 23, five civilians were picked up from their homes allegedly by security forces. On March 25, the Anantnag police and 7 RR claimed to have eliminated "five foreign mercenaries" in an encounter at Pathribal -- based on the information on Lashkar hideouts given by Magray. What bugs me is: Who had picked up the civilians? Was it really the security forces? Could it be possible that someone delivered the five to the hideout to be shot in a case of mistaken identity? More significantly, ALL five civilians were Gujjars -- a community indifferent to the Sunni separatist mania. Why would the RR, whose personnel maintain records on every person in their area, kill non-separatists? A cover-up is, of course, possible -- after an indiscriminate shooting in a known terrorist den. But, a hardhearted cover-up does not indicate a cold-blooded murder of innocents. But that's hardly a point I expect pinkos to absorb.

On November 10, the CPI(ML) accused UP minister for excise Yashwant Singh of inciting violence in Mubarakpur by stoking violence between Shias and Sunnis. The pinkos claimed that the riot was "masterminded" to break "the unity of Muslims"... Point is, we all know that the goal of Pakistan, "human rights" activists, and the likes of Pankaj Mishra is to liberate the Gandhian ahimsa-espousing, freedom-loving Kashmiri Sunnis led by Jeffersonian democrats from the oppression of the evil Hindus. Pakistan has miserably failed to do so through its proxy war; Mishra & Co have failed to do so through their intellectual chicanery. But the attempts continue.

Ganga Singh Dhillon, president of the "Nankana Sahib Foundation of USA and Pakistan" told Dawn on March 24 that the massacre was a strategy to pitch Sikhs against Muslims: "Not one Sikh has ever been touched by the Kashmiri freedom fighters in the last 12 years. It needs no brain surgeon to analyse that this is an Indian intelligence agencies job." On the same day, Dawn wrote, "The massacre of 39 Sikhs in Kashmir is part of a larger Indian plan to de-populate Kashmir of Sikhs and Hindus so that India's security forces will have a free hand to deal with Muslims, observes an Indian writer in an Op-ed piece in The New York Times... The writer, Pankaj Mishra, who was present at the site of massacre, says: 'I met a middle-level officer from BSF... He was a Kashmiri Hindu, and he wasn't worried at the prospect of large numbers of Sikhs fleeing Kashmir in the way the Hindus had done after becoming the target of Muslim freedom fighters. 'Isolate the Muslims in Kashmir,' he said, 'and then we'll be free to deal with them,' Mishra quoted him as saying."

Now go back and read all the reports from the top. Do you see a pattern emerging? Another nexus, if you will...?

Varsha Bhosle

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