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Internal security at danger level - The Hindustan Times

V. N. Gadgil ()
October 25, 1998

Title: Internal security at danger level
Author: V. N. Gadgil
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: October 25, 1998

The presentation made recently by the Home Ministry to its Consultative
Committee about ISI activities in India reveals a disturbing picture of
the country's internal security. The situation is indeed alarming if not
frightening. The Home Secretary informed the Standing Committee on Home
Affairs that out of the 535 districts of India, as many as 210 districts
are affected by insurgency, ethnic strifes, extremist activities, caste
clashes and other conflicts. Forty-eight out of 69 districts of
North-East are affected by insurgency and ethnic violence. Similarly, 10
districts in Jammu and Kashmir are threatened by militancy. The law and
order situation in Nagaland and Tripura is also a matter of concern.
Moreover, ISI agents are receiving training in Kathmandu and Dhaka.

The ISI of Pakistan has now virtually encircled India. Earlier it was
active only in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. Now it has spread itself to
Tarai in UP, the whole of North-East, Calcutta, Chennai, Coimbatore,
Mumbai and Delhi where massive bomb blasts have taken place. It is
evident that local Islamic fundamentalist forces have helped the ISI in
all these activities. Indeed in Coimbatore, the local supporters of ISI
have been arrested and their organisations have been banned. According
to The Hindustan Times report dated October 1, 1998, the ISI is
strengthening its base in UP. The arrest of several Inter-Service
Intelligence (ISI) agents and their aides from Meerut and adjoining
districts point to their increased activities in west UP. It is evident
now that west UP has become a hideout for ISI agents and the members of
Dawood gang. Recently, an arrested agent Salim, during interrogation
revealed that a senior ISI Officer, Major Fida Husain, who looks after
the ISI activities in Northern India, stayed in the house of a
businessman, Islam in Saddiq Nagar locality for more than two months. He
also opened a bank account here with the help of Salim's brother-in-law.
Most of those arrested have revealed that the aim of the ISI was to
create terror by exploding bombs in buses, trains and other public
places and create a rift among the people on a caste and communal basis.
A notorious ISI agent, Jakir Balik, arrested by the Meerut police on
April 16, 1997 said that the ISI officials had allotted him the work of
making video and still photography of important places including
bridges, roads, canals of Hardwar and other areas along with the
movement of Army in Roorkee and Meerut Cantonments. Another notorious
agent Suraiya, former wife of Zakir, was arrested by the police from
Meerut on May 14, 1997 when she was trying to pass some secret documents
of the Indian Army and Signal Corp to a contact person of the ISI.

There has been continuous arrival of illegal immigrants in India
particularly from Bangladesh. The former Home Minister, Inderjit Gupta,
had stated that there are now more than one crore Bangladeshis illegally
residing in India. The question arises whether India is a sovereign
state or a "Dharamshala" where anybody can come and go at any time.
According to R. N. Bhattacharya, Inspector General of BSF, in-charge of
South Bengal frontier, "every 15th resident in West Bengal is a
Bangladeshi" (vide The Week dated July 12, 1998). Each year about 2 lakh
foreigners enter India illegally and settle down in India. Bhattacharya
warns about how "another partition of Bengal is in the offing".

According to a very senior Army Officer who served in that area, there
are at present seven states where Hindus are in minority - Jammu and
Kashmir, Punjab and the five North-Eastern states. He predicts that if
the present trend of Bangladeshi infiltration continues, then within 10
years, Assam will become the 8th state where Hindus will. be in
minority. The political implications of this scenario are grave. Lakhs
of Hindus have been driven out of Kashmir and hardly any one espouses
their cause. This too has serious political implications.

The worst case relating to internal security is of the Purulia Arms
drop. A plane lands, unloads arms and weapons and disappears. The
security forces were blissfully unaware of the incident. Arms smuggling
and RDX smuggling continues unabated on the Kokan coast of Maharashtra,
the coast of Gujarat and the Rajasthan border. The smuggled arms are now
found not only with the terrorist organisations but with criminal gangs,
mafias and kidnappers in UP, Bihar and Mumbai.

It is shocking that the Saudi-Arabian terrorist-financier, Osama Bin
Laden came to India and visited Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad. Our
Intelligence Agencies have failed in this case too. According to The
Sunday Times, London, Osama Bin Laden, had given a clear order to his
Islamic mercenaries "to bring terror to unleash repression in Kashmir."
It said the mercenaries had been helped to cross over by locally
recruited militants in the Kashmir Valley such as a certain Ghulam who
they said had kept in touch with the militants through a radio set,
using code words from the Koran. The report said Ghulam had completed a
90-day training at Bin Laden's camp at Khost in Afghanistan and was paid
Rs 50,000 to lead a 10-member terrorist team into India. It said each of
Bin Laden's trained mercenaries had signed a Rs 400,000 two-year
contract to fight in India. The report quoted Ghulam as saying that the
mercenaries had been instructed to keep Kashmir on the boil by selecting
soft targets like civilians and foreign tourists.

Jayalalitha in The Economic Times dated 11 October, 1998 said that she
had received vital information that the Saudi-born multi-millionaire
Osama Bin Laden had a hidden hand in the Coimbatore blasts on February
14 this year. This had come to light after the arrest, of Mir Sabir
Ahmed from his hideout in Hyderabad on September 28, by the Tamil Nadu
CB CID Police who filed a chargesheet against him. According to the
confession of Mir Sabir Ahmed, Bin Laden was in India in February and
met the Kerala PDP leader Abdul Madani, the fourth accused in the blasts
case. Mir Sabir Ahmed, she said, comes from Satyamangalam in Tamil Nadu
and spent six months in arms training at Bin Laden's camp in
Afghanistan. He was accompanied by Kutty and Basheer, also implicated in
the blasts. They travelled to Mysore where they collected explosives
while the bombs were made in Coimbatore. Kutty was subsequently arrested
but Basheer is still absconding, she said. Quoting the arrested Ahmed,
she said 200 Afghani-trained terrorists were at large in the country.

Further there are recent newspaper reports from the Eastern Command of
the Army that Bangladeshis are now trying to infiltrate the Indian Army.
Last week, newspapers reported that Taliban forces are likely to
infiltrate Jammu and Kashmir too.

It has been the policy of the Government of India that all foreigners
illegally staying in India must be deported. Unfortunately, very little
has been done in this respect. We have indeed become a soft state and
sadly the problem is looked at as a Hindu-Muslim problem. Security
cannot be sacrificed at the altar of secularism. It should, therefore,
be dealt with as in internal security problem.

The reality is that Islamic fundamentalism poses the greatest threat to
our security. The infiltrating Bangladeshis have amongst them a large
number of anti-social elements and potential fifth columnists. Recently
Farooq Abdullah stated that, "the biggest problem Kashmir is facing at
present is the infiltration of the Bangladeshis. They come to the State,
go across the border and cross back. It seems they are being trained in
Pakistan. The number of Bangladeshis we have captured in the past few
months is amazing. We cannot take it lightly."

No country in the world has tolerated such a large number of illegal
immigrants. Indeed it is a demographic aggression. What is disturbing is
that there does not seem to be sufficient awareness of the problem
amongst the people. Intense but latent patriotism has been the hall-mark
of our people throughout history.

The youth are intensely patriotic and they want action-oriented
programmes to guide them. By appealing to their intense nationalism, all
youth organisations should be asked to undertake a programme of helping
the Police in detecting and identifying foreigners illegally staying in
India. The Government should launch a massive awareness campaign about
the threats to our security. The awareness campaign should send the
message: "Awake, Our Freedom is in Peril"

(Shri V. N. Gadgil is a member of Central Working Committee, the highest
policy making body of the Congress party, a former minister in various
Congress governments at the center, and also a former spokesman for the

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