'Bhagat Singh fought for India, not for religion'
In his book Indian Mujahideen -- Tracking the Enemy Within, author and journalist Shishir Gupta has explored various trends of homegrown Jihad in India.
The book, which deals with recent acts of terror, has exploded the myth that the Indian youth is insulated from the phenomenon of global terrorism and has little time for extremism.
In a chat with Rediff readers on August 5, Gupta addressed questions about the terror threat facing India, the Jihadi network and the Indian Mujahideen. Here's the transcript.
mumbaikar asked, Why are the Muslims of north india so attracted to jihadi ideology and yet at the same time you have Hindus from that same region pandering to their ego?
Shishir Gupta answers, at 2011-08-05 11:03:44Muslims in north India are not attracted to Jihiad. It is only a miniscule or a small section of the minorities who have been brainwashed into jihad due to either exposure to Islamic fundamentalism sweeping inthe middle east and Pakistan. Or it may be due to funding from Saudi Arabia and Gulf. I don't understand what you mean when you say Hindus pander to their egos.
faz asked, If someone is cornered and is denied his very fundamental rights, he has no other go than fighting like Bhagat singh and Ashfaqullah...nothing is wrong in it.
Shishir Gupta answers, Bhagat Singh and Ashfaqullah fought for India, not for religion.
Diggy asked, Why are north and south Indian states like Kerala affected by jihadi terror?
Shishir Gupta answers, The answer to this question lies in the very fact that people from Azamgarh in UP have gone for economic opportunities in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east just as our brothers from Kerala have done the same. If you go into details you will find out that these boys were exposed to radicalisation in these countries after being lured with employment opportunities.
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'If we start giving colours to terror, our battle is lost'
Sidthereal asked, Shishir, Could you elaborate on measures of de-radicalisation undertaken by the governments at both federal and local levels, to counter extremist influences?
Shishir Gupta answers, This is an interesting question! At the heart of this question lies the very fact that Muslim youth also have all right to criticise, demonstrate and protest against perceived grievances.
The Indian Muslim youth also want to grow with his brothers and sisters from other communities. As long as allow them to vent their grievances in a democratic fashion,there is a good chance of not many crossing the threshold.
The remaining who get brainwashed into extremism have to be first contained and then tackled firmly so that it acts as a deterrent to both the Hindu and Muslim extremists.
Shishir Gupta answers, Nobody is only focusing on Muslim terror in India. There is a strong recognition that a section of Hindus are also involved in terrorist activities and they have been taken to task by the law enforcement agencies whether it be Kanpur, Nanderh, Margao, Malegaon, or even Samjhauta Express blasts. Indians must remember that terrorism does not have a religion. But if we start giving colors to terrorism, our battle is lost.
'No sane person will glorify terrorists in this country'
Samir asked, What difference is there in Bhagat Singh exploding bomb in the parliament and kashmiri terrorists attacking it?
Shishir Gupta answers, Bhagat Singh did not explode the bomb in the present Parliament building and the bomb killed no one. It was essentially a cracker to wake up the British to the legitimate demands of Indian Independence.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists who attacked the parliament in December 2001 did not come there to liberate any country, any state. They were funded, equipped, programmed to cause mayhem and kill Indian MPs of all religion that day and create tensions in the sub-continent. India virtually went to war twice during the operation Parakram mobilisation post December 13, 2001.
Shishir Gupta answers, No! But I have not come across any sane person glorifying Hindu extremists or terrorists in this country. They need to be dealt as firmly as other enemies of the state. Bombs mean killing of innocent people and that cannot be condoned under any circumstances whether it be Hindu extremists or the Indian Mujahideen.
Image: Bhagat Singh
'Chidambaram hit the nail on its head about right wing extremism'
Shekhar asked, Hi, what's your take on P Chidambaram's comment he made during publication of your book, when he mentioned radical right-wing extremism? Do you think sporadic one-off incidents qualify to be labelled as terrorism?
Shishir Gupta answers, Home Minister P Chidambaram hit the nail on its head when he talked about right wing extremism. These are not one-off incidents but a chain of events that go parallel to the rise of Indian Mujahideen in the past decade. The Malegaon blast in 2008 proved conclusively that Hindu extremism was not a stray incident. It was a planned and premeditated attack.
samir asked, Why are Maoist not called terrorists?
Shishir Gupta answers, Maoists are not called terrorists just as extremists in northeast are called insurgents or underground militants. The fact is that whosoever kills innocents or tries to overthrow the Indian Parliamentary democracy is an extremist. You call call him insurgent, militant, rebel or terrorist. The Maoists have openly declared that they want to uproot the Indian Parliamentary democracy and by bombing schools, primary health centers, and Panchayati institutions. They have made clear their agenda.
anand asked, Hi Shishir, Have u gone through the e-mail sent by Indian Mujahideen after Delhi blasts in 2008? Have you analysed the Quranic verses cited by them in the e-mail in support of their actions?
Shishir Gupta answers, Yes, I have gone through all the e-mails sent by the IM. They were dictated by, as records reveal, Iqbal Bhatkal in consultation with his mentors across the borders. The Quranic verses was a cut and paste job with hatred filling the blanks.
'The IM does exist; it is not a figment of imagination'
Shardul asked, hi shishir, tell me whats the main motive of the indian mujahideen?
Shishir Gupta answers, The main motive of the IM is destabilise India, cause communal tensions, hinder economic growth at the behest of their mentors sitting across the borders. The group has criminal origins and uses religion just a facade to justify its existence. It initially was funded and continues to be funded by anti-India forces.
Rohit asked, Hi Shishir First of does IM really exist. Or is it just fictitious organisation created to serve vested interest of few groups
Shishir Gupta answers, The IM does exist and it is not a figment of imagination or creation of Indian intelligence agencies, as many believe. It is a generic word, like Al Qaeda or call it a website. The moment you log on to it, you are IM.
'The tide has already started reversing'
Kiran asked, How can the Indians working in the Gulf be insulated from getting radicalised? Can the govt policies tilt this economic gradient towards other places? how much influence can India wield over Saudi Arabia in this regard?
Shishir Gupta answers, The first question can only be answered in one way. Till such time the Indian minorities believe in India and not the puritan Islamic movement sweeping in the Middle East, they don't have to worry about radicalisation.
The Indian economic growth has ensured that the Indians have new self confidence and the leverage to get things done on their terms. As far as the second part is concerned, the more we grow, the more economic opportunities will be available in India. The tide has already started reversing. India and Saudi Arabia have now been talking on counter-terrorism very seriously post King Abdullah's visit to India.
The Indian security agencies are directly in touch with their Saudi counterparts and many terrorists have been arrested, terror plots unearthed, thanks to Saudi cooperation. We can get a fair idea about the security cooperation between the two countries if we know the number of times our National Security Advisor has traveled to Riyadh since 2004.
'We only colour terrorism when we start thinking in terms of electoral vote banks'
Paki asked, It is still not proven who's behind the Malegaon blast of 2008 . Yet verdict has come from Shishir Gupta. I can understand, he wants sponsorship of book from Manmohan & Chidambaram
Shishir Gupta answers, I have given no verdict on Malegaon, 2008. I am going as per the chargesheet and the interrogation reports of the accused. If you have any better way of finding out the culprits, then I leave it to you to pass the judgment. Internal security and terrorism should be kept out of electoral politics as much as possible. We only colour terrorism when we start thinking in terms of electoral vote banks. This is neither my intention nor my job.
samir asked, Why is there opposition to the Communal Violence bill? Are those opposing it have intentions of using riots as weapons of discrimination in the future?
Shishir Gupta answers, I think those opposing the communal violence bill have legitimate concerns as they perceive that it impedes on the federal polity of India. Remember law and order is a state subject and it is for the state to deal firmly with communal violence rather than committees headed by judges and forced by the centre.
narendramodi asked, Do you think another Mumbai style attack could lead to a full blown war?Shishir Gupta answers, The 26 11 attack was the most dasterdly event after 9 11. It was planned, funded and directed by ISI-LeT leadership based in Pakistan. While war is no solution to eradicating terrorism in India. The Indian response this time will be robust and sharp.
'Beijing has finally woken up to the swamps of terrorism'
Juneja asked, sir, one of the most interesting development has been China pointing fingers at tribal areas in Pak as the training ground for ETIM militants. Whats your take on this?
Shishir Gupta answers, This is a very interesting development particularly when Beijing berated Islamabad for allowing ETIM or Uighur fundamentalists for providing its own territory to launch attacks in Xinjiang province. India, for the past two decades has been asking Pakistan to do the same after sensitizing the international community on this same issue.
It is heartening to note that Beijing has finally woken up to the swamps of terrorism existing in FATA and northern areas of Pakistan.
The Wakhan corridor is highly prone to Jihadis criss crossing from Pakistan and Afghanistan to China and Central Asia. Jihadi terrorism from this area has been a source of headache to India in Jammu and Kashmir and the hinter land. China knows it faces the same problems as Xinjiang province is restive as FATA.