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|October 8, 2002|
The Rediff Special/ Sheela Bhatt
The attack on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, really should not surprise anyone. India has been suffering such attacks for almost two decades now. A look at the 1990s shows how India and Indians have suffered at the hands of terrorists and religious extremists, all amply aided by Pakistan.
According to Indian intelligence agencies, the tragedy is that India has not been able to convince the world of Pakistan's destructive agenda against India for the last 15 years. India's Intelligence Bureau has a picture of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence operations on Indian soil since 1988, the latest of which is the attack on the Akshardham temple.
The Indian government has ample evidence of the ISI role in fomenting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, but most of this proof remains in the files with the Union home ministry. Two years ago, the government planned to table a White Paper on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India but dropped the idea.
However, in 1996, just before the previous assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir, a special cell at the home ministry had produced an in-depth study of Pakistan's involvement in terrorism and subversion in India. This study was presented to American and Europeans diplomats.
Excerpts from the study obtained by rediff.com:
1. On March 12, 1993, a series of bomb blasts shook Mumbai, killing 257 people, injuring 713, and destroying property worth millions of rupees. The police have evidence that the prime suspects, Dawood Ibrahim, a notorious gangster who used to live in Bombay in the 1980s, and Tiger Memon were abetted by the Pakistani authorities. The police have proof that the 20 persons from the lot who carried out the bomb blasts were trained in Pakistan. The bombs and weapons also originated in Pakistan.
The Indian government presented a note verbale to Pakistan but Islamabad flatly rejected it.
A key suspect, Yakub Abdul Memon, was arrested on August 5, 1994, in Mumbai, and who revealed Pakistan's involvement in carrying out the bomb blasts.
Moreover, police investigations into the explosions on five trains on the night of December 5-6, 1993, revealed an ISI agents network. Two Mumbai residents, Dr Jalees Ansari and Shakeel Anwar were arrested. Shakeel claimed a Dubai-based Pakistani diplomat, Mehboob Shah, had helped him. He also claimed that a visa clerk in the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi, Ziaus Samad, had helped Indian youth visit camps providing training in the use of arms in Pakistan.
2. In March 1992, four operatives of Pakistan military intelligence were arrested. They revealed a plan to organize an espionage-cum-terrorist network in India with the help of the Students Islamic Movement of India in Aligarh.
This was followed by the arrest of Lal Singh, a prominent Sikh extremist, on July 16, 1992. He revealed Pakistan's plans to sponsor terrorism in tandem with local militant Muslim elements.
He said that in October 1988, he went to Pakistan from Canada on a fake passport. At Lahore's Gurdwara Dera Saheb, he met Satinder Pal Gill, a member of the Panthic Committee. Gill introduced him to an ISI officer named Waqar at the gurdwara, who in turn introduced him to pro-Khalistan leaders hiding in Pakistan and to Kashmiri separatist leader Amir ul-Azim.
3. Pakistan's Jamat-e-Islami and the ISI formed a nexus with the Sikh terrorists. Lal Singh purchased arms from Hazi Fazal Rehman, a resident of Darra Adam Khel. Singh claimed he delivered 160 kilograms of weapons to Raja, a Pakistani ISI officer, in December 1990, which was sent to India.
4. Amir ul-Azim introduced Lal Singh to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (the Afghan rebel leader) in May 1991 at the Mansoora Hospital in Lahore to seek his assistance in his struggle against India.
5. With the help of the ISI, Lal Singh acquired a fake passport in the name of Iqbal Ahmed and sneaked into India with an ISI agent name Mohammad Sharif. Both lived in Aligarh.
Between December 23 and 25, 1991, Amir ul-Azim and Lal Singh attended a meeting of the Students Islamic Movement of India at Mumbai. Lal Singh was introduced to Mumbai-based SIMI activist Tahir Jamal and Ravish. Both helped Lal Singh get safe hideouts and in smuggling arms from Pakistan.
In return, both wanted Lal Singh's help to eliminate Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in Mumbai for his anti-Muslim utterances. In May 1992, Lal Singh received huge quantities of arms free of charge through ISI courier Akram, a resident of village Chandisar, Gujarat.
6. Mohammad Sharif was arrested on June 18, 1993, in Delhi, and spilt the beans about his activities. Sharif said Pakistan was engaged in creating an 'intelligence ring' around India, using Pakistan embassies in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Dubai as nodal points. A decade ago, Pakistan had won over well-placed Nepali citizens for espionage work in India. Sharif said the Pakistan's Directorate of Military Intelligence guided him, and that his larger game was to subvert the Muslims of India and arm them with the help of Kashmiri and Sikh militants.
Sharif's operation was christened K-2 and he was based in Aligarh. His actions were monitored by an ISI agent based in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The final aim of the operation, also known as the Aligarh Conspiracy, was to balkanize India. Towards that end, the ISI wanted to provoke Muslim youth to take up arms and turn against India and to bring Sikh, Kashmiri, and Muslim militants on a single platform that the ISI would provide. Sharif told Indian investigators that 70 percent of the staff of the Pakistani embassies in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Dubai comprised intelligence operatives.
Sharif said the Mumbai blasts were carried out on March 12, 1993, because it was the 17th day of Ramzan, considered the Jang-e-Badr, the day on which Islam won its first military victory nearly 1,400 years ago.
7. At the same time that Sharif was arrested, Osman Umar Koreja, captain of a small ship, Sada al Bachar, too was nabbed. Koreja, a resident of Mandvi, Kutch district, Gujarat, gave graphic details about how arms were smuggled from Karachi port and the role of the Pakistani navy in smuggling arms to ports between Kutch and Mangalore. Koreja said he used satellite phones to get directions.
8. On November 10,1993, four Muslims men were arrested in Hyderabad, possessing arms, explosives, and incriminating documents. One of the arrested men, Nissar Ahmed Butt, belonged to an outfit called the Ikhwan-ul-Musalmeen and sold Kashmir shawls in Amritsar, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. A militant, Khurshid Baig of Srinagar, asked him to recruit Muslim youth for training in Pakistan. Butt said that Kashmiri militants recruited Muslim youth in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, who were sent to Pakistan via Bangladesh.
One such youth was Liaqat Ali, who hailed from Hyderabad. Liaqat was trained in the use of arms near Islamabad in 1993. On his return, he sent Hyderabad-based Muslim boys Osman, Parvez and Afsar to Islamabad for training. Butt said he tried to persuade the manager of the Hyderabad-based Darshgah Jrehad Shahadat, a physical fitness institute for Muslims, to send some boys to Pakistan, but the manager refused to oblige.
Giving a day-to-day account of his stay in Pakistan, Liaqat Ali spoke about forged passports, how he learned to make explosives, and how he was ferried within Pakistan. On his return to India, he was asked to set up a corpus of a trained Muslim youth to carry out disruptive activities in Hyderabad.
Nissar Ahmed Butt also told the police that the ISI had prepared a fake video cassette showing Mumbai bomb blast accused Tiger Memon in Kashmir even though he was hiding in Pakistan. Nissar was asked to hand over the cassette to one Yusuf Khan in Srinagar, who in turn handed it over to an international news channel that aired the cassette.
Nissar said he also conveyed ISI messages to the Hurriyat leadership when the latter were negotiating between the Indian government and the militants who had besieged the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar.
9. In February 1994, Pakistanis Amjad Ali Mogul, Taimur Ali, Khalid Ali, Bangladeshi Mohammad Raeef and Indian citizen Chand Mian were arrested by the Delhi police. All belonged to the Lahore-based Islamic Inquilabi Mahaz, an ISI outfit that was supervised by one Colonel Jameel. The sole purpose of the Mahaz, whose military wing was headed by Major Ahsan ul-Haque, was to recruit Pakistani youth for subversive activities in India.
Bangladeshis Abdul Haq and Shafiq Mehta, operating out of the office of a periodical in Dhaka, helped the outfit.
10. Dr Sohan Singh, a leading ideologue of Khalistan, was arrested in September 1993. He had spent much time in Pakistan, and told the police that destroying India 'is their [the Pakistanis] national paranoia.' He recalled that on his first visit to Pakistan, an ISI officer named Chaudhary asked him whether he [Singh] doubted Pakistan's seriousness in helping the Sikhs. When Singh replied in the affirmative, Chaudhary explained that it was 'their [Pakistan's] national policy' to support the Sikh movement. As proof, he said that despite the installation of the Benazir Bhutto government, weapons consignments continue to reach India.
11. In Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan's 'proxy war' has been open and unabashed. According to official records, before 1994, the security forces arrested 3,628 Pakistan-trained militants in the hinterland, and 850 from the border areas, while 774 surrendered.
These militants revealed that they were trained and told to target the secular leaders and to subvert any democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir. In the early 1990s, the ISI told the militants to drive the Hindus out of Doda district. Finance was the least of the problems. Even as terrorism descended in Kashmir, the then Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto publicly announced the setting up of a Kashmir Fund to assist the militants.
The major part of 'proxy war' with India was to form a nexus of Kashmir militants with fundamentalist Indian Muslim youth. The ISI had trained around 30 Indian Muslims in 1993 and claimed this as a major victory. However, most of the Indian boys were later arrested and revealed their Pakistan experience to the Indian forces.
The Indian authorities have extraordinary documentation of Pakistan militants training camps. A few of them were in Peshawar and also along the Afghan-Pakistan border to induct battle hardened mercenaries of the Afghan war.
In 1994, India provided a list of 162 training camps organised by ISI to the United States. Eighty of the camps were in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, 69 in Pakistan, and 13 in Afghanistan. A copy of a letter written by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen asking for reinforcements of weapons from the Pakistani authorities was also placed before Americans in 1996.
The process of recruitment and training of Pakistani youth started in 1988. The Jamaat-e-Tulba and Jamaat-e-Islami were the recruiting agents of the ISI. In later years, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Al Barq, and Al-Jihad Force were the well-known pro-Pakistan outfits operating in Kashmir.
12. The direct involvement of Pakistan in Punjab was vividly brought out in trial of Paramjit Singh Sidhu and his two associates in the Britain. They were convicted and sentenced to a total of 36years of imprisonment. During the trial, the prosecution had produced the complete video recording of an extremist training camp being run on Pakistan territory.
Interestingly, proof of Paramjit's presence in Pakistan and his involvement in fighting on behalf of the 'Sikh separatist cause' was brought out earlier in a Federal Bureau of Investigation report. The FBI had questioned one Jasbir Singh Boparai of Hampshire, England, who was detained at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York on June 15, 1990.
13. India has documented the seized weapons produced by the Pakistan Ordinance Factory along with the serial number.
14. India also has details of Kashmiri militants who stay abroad but visit Pakistan regularly to meet leaders of terrorist outfits and ISI officials on a regular basis.
Ironically, Pakistan, which is America's ally in the latter's fight against global terrorism, is violating various international conventions relating to mutual legal assistance, disregarding Interpol notices, and is making a mockery of United Nations Security Council resolutions against terrorism, including Resolution 1373, which calls on all member states to combat terrorism.
Design: Dominic Xavier
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