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Home > India > News > Columnists > B Raman

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How safe are our nuclear establishments?

November 27, 2008

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The war of civilisation between the Muslims and the infidels has begun in Indian

territory.

 

So said the first statement issued in the name of the so-called Indian Mujahideen [Images] in November 2007,  after the three orchestrated explosions in three towns of Uttar Pradesh [Images] outside local courts.

 

We saw the latest round of this war in Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008, as an unestimated number of terrorists -- divided into small groups and wielding hand-held weapons and improvised explosive devices -- literally took control

of Mumbai and targeted with frightening precision famous hospitals preferred by the rich of the country and foreign tourists, railway stations, a hospital  and many other places scattered across this business capital of India.

 

It is not just 9/11. It is not just Madrid, M arch 2004. It is not just London [Images] 2006.

 

It is -- I am using the present tense because the situation is still not under control at 5-30 am despite the Army's assistance being sought -- an act of terrorism the like of which the world has not seen before. Mind boggles as one tries to think and figure out how the terrorists could have planned and carried out terrorist strikes of such magnitude, territorial spread and ferocity without our intelligence and police having been able to get any scent of it. Like what the Vietcong did during the Tet offensive

 

The iceberg of jihadi terrorism to which I have been drawing attention since November 2007, in article after article, in interview after interview, in discussion after discussion has struck not only Mumbai, but the Indian State.

 

The iceberg moved from UP to Jaipur [Images]. From Jaipur to Bangalore. From Bangalore to Ahmedabad [Images] and Surat [Images]. From there to Delhi [Images]. From Delhi to Assam. From Assam to Mumbai now -- despite the claims made by the Mumbai police some weeks ago of having discovered and crushed a plot of the IM to carry out strikes in Mumbai.

 

The government of Manmohan Singh [Images] reacted to the repeated warning signals of the moving iceberg since November 2007, in the same way as the Bush Administration reacted to reports about the plans of  the Al Qaeda [Images] for aviation terrorism in

the US; in the same way Megawati Sukarnoputri reacted to reports of the activities of the Jemmah Islamiyah; and in the same way Khalida Zia reacted to reports of the plans of the Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen .

 

Bovine. It just did no react. It was in a total denial mode. I wrote and said again and again -- hand over all the investigation about the IM to a central investigating agency for a co-ordinated investigation instead of their being investigated by the police in a piecemeal manner in different states ruled by different political parties. No reaction.

 

From a localised threat, jihadi terrorism has become a pan-Indian threat with a pan-Islamic ideology. Deal with it with a pan-Indian strategy, I said. No reaction.

 

The terrorists arrested some weeks ago in Mumbai, three of whom were IT experts well-placed in transnational companies, pose a new dimension of the threat. Seek the help of the US, I said. No reaction.

 

I drew attention to an article by Hamid Mir, journalist from Pakistan, which spoke of Indian Muslims going to  Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban [Images] against the US and which also said that India is one of the routes being used by foreign jihadis

going to Afghanistan. No reaction, just as Rajiv Gandhi did not react to repeated wake-up calls from the then Afghan President Najibullah that Muslims from Kashmir were being trained by the Afghan Mujahideen.

 

In October, when I had come to Delhi for a seminar, two diplomats from EU countries sought an appointment with me for a discussion on the IM. They expressed their surprise and concern over the fact that the Indian intelligence and police

seemed to know so little about the IM despite their having arrested many perpetrators  of the previous blasts and interrogated them.

 

Is the IM the name of an organisation or of a movement? Is it one or many organisations in different states acting, like the International Islamic Front of Osama bin Laden, as a united front -- autonomously where they can and unitedly

where they should? Who constitute its command and control? Where are they? In India or outside? Nobody knows for certain.

 

I could not sleep the whole of last night. One question which kept bothering me again and again  was: how safe are our nuclear establishments and material?

 

Till now, we were greeting with glee Pakistan's incompetence in dealing with terrorism. We can no longer do so. We have become as clueless as Pakistan.

 

I wanted to write much more, but my mind doesn't work. As I watch on the TV what  is happening in Mumbai, I shiver and sweat at the thought of what is waiting to happen tomorrow and where.

 

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2W@gmail.com)


B Raman



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