Friday, September 9, 2011

INDIA'S COUNTER-TERRORISM RECORD: AN OPEN LETTER TO FAREED ZAKARIA

B.RAMAN

Dear Mr.Fareed Zakaria,



I read with considerable interest extracts from your interview to the CNN-IBN on counter-terrorism in which, inter alia, you have compared the track record of the Indian counter-terrorism community with that of the US.


2. Rediff.com has reported on your CNN-IBN interview as follows: “

“ When looking at the capacity and talents of intelligence agencies around the world, I don't think anyone has spoken highly about the Indian intelligence agencies.


“As a matter of reporting, India's counter-terrorism operations are not regarded very high. This is an area India has not focused on a great deal.


“India has not done good because as it has a large Muslim population, but again India's police force is pathetic. Look at Mumbai -- India's police force is not a police force -- it is a patronage job that is given to people to support communities, they don't know how to police.”


3. Before I comment substantively on your observations, I must introduce myself: I was an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS). I joined the IPS in 1961 and retired in August,1994, after having served for about four years in the Madhya Pradesh Police, one year in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of the Government of India and 26 years in the Research & Analysis Wing ( R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency. When I was in service, the R&AW had two divisions dealing with terrorism----one with indigenous terrorism --- what many now call home-grown terrorism--- and the other with international terrorism. I headed the Division dealing with indigenous terrorism from 1981 to 1985 and headed both the Divisions from 1988 till my retirement in 1994. Between 1991 and 1994, I used to wear a second hat as the head of the division responsible for intelligence liaison with foreign intelligence agencies. In that capacity, I had interacted closely with the intelligence agencies of the US and the UK----particularly in matters relating to counter-terrorism.”


4. The Indian track-record in counter-terrorism is not one of abysmal failure. We have had remarkable success stories particularly against Khalistani terrorism in Punjab and against the terrorism of Al Umma in Tamil Nadu. In both these instances, it was the local police force which led the counter-terrorism operations and won final victory despite all the handicaps suffered by it. In Jammu and Kashmir too--- though final victory has not yet been won--- the Indian counter-terrorism forces led by the Army have succeeded remarkably in bringing what we call cross-border terrorism under control.


5. The poor track-record of the Indian counter-terrorism community has been mainly against jihadi terrorism in North India.


6. We have had instances of jihadi terrorism in the South too in places such as Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru. In the 1990s, we had the Al Umma phenomenon in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


7.The police in South India has generally done better against terrorism emanating from the Muslim community than the Police in North/West India because the political class and the media in the South have generally refrained from demonising the Police and the intelligence agencies whenever they have acted against Muslims who have taken to terrorism. The Police in the South has, therefore, the confidence that it can do whatever is legally permissible in order to bring terrorism involving the participation of some Muslims under control.


8. Thankfully, in the South, there has been no politicisation till now of counter-terrorism which affected some members of the Muslim community. Unfortunately, there was politicisation of counter-terrorism directed against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). We paid a heavy price for it in May 1991, when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE in Chennai. Since then, this politicisation too has come down.


9. In North and West India, the admittedly poor record of the counter-terrorism community against jihadi terrorism---whether of the home-grown or Pakistani variety--- has been considerably due to the reluctance of the political class to act against the terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan and its equal reluctance to act against those members of the Muslim community who take to terrorism.


10. It is very unfair on your part to have compared the track-record of the Indian counter-terrorism community with that of the US. Many things which are permitted against Muslims in the US will not be permitted in India and we in the counter-terrorism community feel should not be permitted by the political leadership. Examples of what we in India do not do and will never do are:
• Treating a Muslim as a suspect by virtue of his religion and appearance unless proved otherwise. Shah Rukh Khan, the famous Indian film actor, was treated as a suspect in the US. Such things will not happen in India.
• Treating jihadi suspects as “war criminals” and keeping them in a military camp (Guantanamo Bay) and subjecting them to trials by military tribunals.
• Use of air strikes against terrorists and their sanctuaries, killing a large number of innocent Muslims. Since India became independent in 1947, we have used the Air Force only once in Mizoram in 1966 when the Mizo insurgents over-ran almost the entire State.
• The so-called rendition flights by which the US counter-terrorism agencies kept flying Muslim suspects arrested abroad from country to country in order to avoid having to produce them before a court of law.
• The extraordinary methods of torture sanctified by the US Justice department that were used against Muslim suspects---whether in Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.



11. I am proud to say that neither the Indian political class nor the Indian counter-terrorism community would ever think of resorting to such diabolical methods. Even if we thought of them, the Indian media would have been the first to start a campaign against them.


12.Mr.Zakaria, how many of you in the US media world raised your voice against these methods when these were being used in the years after 9/11. Did you raise your voice against them, Mr.Zakaria? You all believed that any method is a good method against Muslim suspects till Al Qaeda is brought under control.


13. We have a self-denying counter-terrorism policy. We consciously deny to ourselves many practices which you in the US permit to yourselves in your counter-terrorism against Muslim suspects. We are proud of such self-denying provisions in our counter-terrorism policy.


14.One last point, I should make. India is next door neighbour to Pakistan. Much of our jihadi terrorism emanates from Pakistan. The US is thousands of KMs away from Pakistan. We face a terrorist threat from Pakistan every day. You face a threat sporadically. And yet, the kind of methods that you have used against Pakistan we have never used. We fight against terrorism emanating from Pakistan with one hand tied in the back.


15. It is not only because our political leadership will not permit it, but it is also because of the hypocrisy of the US Government which will use any methods against Pakistan in order to protect the US Homeland and American lives, but never hesitates to come in the way of India following a similar policy to protect the Indian Homeland and Indian lives.


With regards,
B.Raman


Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com. Twitter” @SORBONNE75 .

Mr.Fareed Zakaria,
Editor-at-large,
Time Magazine,
New York

11 comments:

bevivek said...

Dear Mr. Raman,
I am not familiar with the scope and lexicon of counter-terrorism but surely Maoist terror, terror in the North East such as ULFA and even what has come to be called Saffron terror come within the scope of CT. If so, would you say our record is good on these fronts? Our pathetic record against Maoist terror where we seem to have virtually surrendered sovereignity in specific corridors and areas cannot be called a success, no? Nor should it be a matter of pride that in spite of evidence to the contrary and indeed even common sense, we convinced ourselves that Malegaon and Samjhauta were works of Islamic militants, an obvious case of religious profiling that, if I were Muslim would deeply scare me.

I am sure that our CT have had successes such as you mention but singling out our failure on Muslim or Islamic terror as being the only blot on an otherwise white escutcheon flatters your efforts.

India's CT will need to do better than that.

Vivek

Yusuf said...

Sir,

Good reply to Fareed, but pardon my ignorance, todays police is not the same as what you had during your active days. The standards have fallen. We know the culture among the police which is now nothing but a servant of the political class.

Yes, India will never do what the US has done in its "fight" against terror, but withing the scope of Indian conscience, i dont think enough has been done by the police to counter terror. The blame lies with both the political class and the police. Batla house incident stands out tall in this regard.

Getting the police rid of political class would be a beginning of the many woes we have.

You said that it was the police in your time that broke the back of terrorism like Khalistanis, but today, the same police is busy trying to pick "kamai wali posting" and serving only their political masters.

I may be wrong, but i think a lot has changed with the police since your time.

We need more officers today like you, KPS Gill, Robeiro who will stand up and get counted.

No Mist said...

even allowing for the things you mentioned that our police force are "not allowed" to do, our track record has not been anywhere near exemplary.

zakaria observation of mumbai police being a patronage network is not only true in north/west india but all over india ... it does not seem much different in chennai and hyderabad at least ... i cannot say much about bangalore to be fair.

i do not think there was such a need to take umbrage at zakaria's analysis.

Dr Satya Saraswat said...

Just because the intelligence agencies want to be politically correct is the main reason why we are having continous blasts.
US after all the precautions has contained home grown and imported terror. And our intelligence agencies have failed repeatedly because our analyst are busy serving their political masters for plum postings and keeping tracks of their political opponents with all the tools(like phone tappings) at their disposal.
If anything our intelligence agencies both IB and RAW should hang their heads in shame for taking terror so lightly.

ambi said...

arre maa kasam! majboot mirchi lagi hain! Shaant gadadgaari BHEEM Shaant!!! Pehle shanti phir kranti.

Paresh said...

Sir, how much ever you want to stay in denial, the Indian police forces, political class and intelligence services have become the laughing stock of not only the whole world, but even of Indians themselves.

I also believe they are 'pathetic'!

Sameer said...

Mr. raman seems to be living in a state of delusion. It is well known that India's police is deeply mistrusted by the Muslim community, and for well known reasons - fake encounters, for instance, and the well known fact that the police force has been complicit in participating in th worst mass murders of recent times. Would a Mumbai 92 or Gujarat 2002 take place in the US, that too with police participation? certainly not.

Secondly, most of those who participated in the massacres in Gujarat and Mumbai (not to mention previous ones) are roaming scot free. This includes both masterminds such as Thackeray and Modi, and foot soldiers. While those responsible for the Mumbai blasts have been sentenced to death, not a single perpetrator of the massacres that preceded the act, was sentenced. Ditto for Gujarat Vs Godhra. Would this ever happen in the US?

The "success" against Jihad inspired terror in the south is mainly due to the participation of Muslims in active life (except for parts of karnataka). Muslims in TN, Kerala etc live a life of dignity, and are less discriminated against when compared to Muslims in other places. Most Muslims in the rest have difficulty gaining employment and housing (and even entry into colleges) just because of their religion. I've ssen it fromvery very close quarters and I know plenty of friends who would rather keep quiet than speak about it. This is something Raman won't even be able to comprehend

As for "political will", the reality is completely opposite - South India has more Muslim participation, so it should ideally have more resistance to fight terror, right? it is primarily the participation of Muslims in places like kerala that has provided a sense of empowerment and is the main bulwark against extremism - not Mr Raman's hare brained theories!

Thirdly, the US has an extensive desk on the Middle East, that includes a huge number Muslim officers and Arabic speakers - so does the UK. In fact, David Headley was caught with the help of Muslim agents who had infiltrated Kashmiris network. In India, Muslim recruitment in the police force is abysmal. RAW till a few years ago actually had an official policy of not recruiting Muslims as they were seen as potential traitors! (I don't know the status now, but wont be surprised if its still in force).

Mr Raman is symptomatic of the malaise afflicting our so-called "experts". They remind me of the ostrich, fail to note ground realities, and make noises about our "liberal" ethos when the truth is exactly the opposite!

nri2008 said...

Dear Ramanji,

Hearty Copngratulations and thank you very much for an intelligent and robust defence of Idnia's counterterrorism policy. Mistly I appreacite that Indian Muslims are treated as Indians first and religion is secopndary.

As you have rightly pointed out is is gross political mismanagement in North/West India and not gioving free hand to professionals which explains partly lack of success against terrorism in North/West India (Vote bank politics).

Warm Regards

Ram

ambi said...

good observations sameer bhaiyya. wrong conclusions. gujarat was not the worst riot in the recent times. it was bhagalpur in bihar was the one. cons were ruling there n yes no one was punished. as far as 92 mum riots r concerned cons were ruling again who gave free hand to shivsena. as far as babri masjid is concerned, it was rajeev gandhi who opened the lock of the temple. not sure about u but most of the muslims understand this n thats a good sign. stop living in self pity n move on with the time.

ambi said...

david headley was a mole of FBI n was under there watch. as he was about to kill danish cartoonist, usa arrested him (not because of muslim informants).

if u wish to know how closely RAW works with muslims try to find about operation chanakya in kashmir.

n pls next time come with more preparation. chal then milte hain!

PRAFUL ADAGALE said...

Sir,
I am Praful Adagale a Research Fellow who do research and analysis on terrorism and its tactics. After been involved in security studies since last 6 years, my understanding states that the counter terrorism policy in India is not designed based on the parameters which US follows but India has its own understanding and experience on the subject matter. Terrorism is not new concept for India; it has tackled terrorism in the past as mentioned by B.Raman in his article. India has to deal with militant threats primarily from three sources: Maoist rebels known as Naxalites, tribal-based ethnic separatists and Islamist militants fighting in the name of Kashmir.
To comment on your views I quote hear a statement made by Ambassador H.S. Puri at the UNSG’s Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation on September 20, 2011 stated that, “We must support all efforts to enhance dialogue between and amongst civilizations, ethnicities, and religions, and evolve a culture of tolerance, compassion and respect for diversity, especially amongst the young. In addition, efforts should be made to develop comprehensive and integrated national counterterrorism strategies that fully comply with the rule of law; fully respect the dignity and human rights of all; and reach out to, and actively involve all parts of society and all communities”.
Lastly to say, India has tremendous force and intelligence capability which has won its battle without much technological support as in case of the Operation Vijay, the kargil conflict and the 26/11 which the US forces have observed and learned during the operations. In case of Police forces it was the Special Task Force (STF), officer who killed the elusive forest brigand Veerappan with their own strategic operational planning.
As per the report of the Homeland Security Policy Institute "There is a consensus that the U.S. lacks an adequate understanding of the intelligence enterprise as it relates to counterterrorism,".
But sidelining the war of words on these issues, between each other’s the difference lies in the application of new technology by the forces which US and India are trying to bridge the gap by sharing and conducting various military exercises in Asia as per the US- India counter terrorism cooperation.