Saturday, April 2, 2011



The intelligence agencies and Police of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka deserve to be complimented for the effective and co-ordinated manner in which they managed to maintain security and thwart planned acts of terrorism during the nearly two-month period during which matches of the World Cup cricket tournament were being held in these countries. The terrorists based in the Af-Pak region were not without plans to disrupt the matches through terrorist strikes, but their plans were detected and neutralised in time by prompt intelligence and effective physical security. The role played by the intelligence agencies of the US and other countries in collecting whatever preventive intelligence they can and sharing it with the intelligence agencies of the three countries needs to be acknowledged and applauded.

2. The terrorists and other extremists were thwarted in carrying out their plans, but their capabilities and determination to spread death and destruction remain intact.The octopus of jihadi extremism and terrorism is not dead. It is alive and kicking and has started moving again. This should be evident from the assassinations of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Pakistani Punjab, and Shabaz Bhatti, Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs, and the two unsuccessful attempts to kill Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the Amir of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam Pakistan, Taseer and Bhatti were killed brutally because of their opposition to the blasphemy laws. Fazlur Rahman was believed to have been targeted for suggesting a re-look at the most obnoxious provisions of the obnoxious law.

3. The octopus has started moving in Afghanistan too. This became evident from the brutal murder of eight employees of a UN agency on April 1 by a violent mob protesting against a recent incident in the US in which a pastor allegedly burnt a copy of the Holy Koran. This has been followed by violent incidents in Kandahar over the same issue on April 2.

4. The feel-good atmosphere in India-Pakistan relations generated by the "conversations" of Prime Ministers Dr.Manmohan Singh and Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani at Mohali on March 30 should not blind us to the movements of the jihadi octopus. The anti-India and anti-Hindu poison being propagated by the jihadi organisations shows no signs of slackening. Their anti-India infrastructure is intact. The octopuses of terrorism have many hiding places in Pakistan from which they can strike at India. They are bound to strike at India sooner or later to convince their followers that the anti-India jihad has to be continued until final victory---- let Mohali be damned.

5. The post-World Cup euphoria is natural among the general populace, but it should not lead to a slackening of vigilance by the intelligence and security agencies, including the police. In fact, there is a need for even greater vigilance today than ever before.

6. How to keep the carefully-calibrated re-engagement process initiated by our Prime Minister moving forward without slackening our vigliance and determination to fight the jihadi terrorists operating from Pakistani territory? That is a question to be constantly addressed by the political leadership and the security bureaucracy.

7. The proposed re-engagement is with the State and the secular civil society of Pakistan, but not with its jihadi civil society. Our policy of eternal vigilance and confrontation against the jihadi octopuses has to continue unrelentingly till we win the final victory. ( 3-4-11)

( The writer is 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: )



Team India!

Can you hear me cry?

I have been crying since I saw our captain Dhoni score the winning six last night.

I have been crying even more since I saw Harbhajan and other members of the team crying after the victory.

Till the moment of victory, they were men of steel, men of determination.

Once the moment of victory came, they became like you and me and like millions of others in the country.

They cried, they wept, they sobbed like children.

How many of us saw Harbhajan being interviewed by a journalist who asked him how it felt like in the moments of victory.

"Great", he said, "but it is not just our victory. It is the victory of all those people in the stands. It is the victory of all the people across India. It is India's victory."

Team India!

Could you sense my feelings of jealousy, my feelings of envy in the morning as I saw all of you lined up and singing the National Anthem.

Millions of people across India shed tears of pride and wished enviously they were there with you singing the National Anthem and playing for India instead of sitting before their TV sets and computers.

Team India!

You made us all Team India---- whatever be our religion, our language, our age.

You were the privileged eleven, but you made us part of you.

Team India did not have just 11 players. It had over a billion. You made us all play with you. You made us all achieve greatness. You made us all climb to victory with you in the lead.

Team India!

You made India shine last night. Like it has never shone before. You made us all shine in every nook and corner of India. You gave us moments of glory, moments of pride.

The glory and pride were yours, but you shared them with us----so readily, so generously, so humbly.

Team Sri Lanka!

How you fought! Every inch of the way, every ball!

Your country must be proud of you. So are we. After all, you are our cousins of history. Our own flesh and blood.

Team Pakistan!

You too. Our cousins of history, our flesh and blood.

You might have lost a hard- fought match. But, you and Team India jointly won the battle for the hearts of millions of people in the sub-continent.

Afridi became a household name in India---a name every Indian, young or old, knows and loves. He is our Afridi. Not just yours.

What mixed feelings at the end of the semi-final! Could you sense them?

Feelings of joy that we won it. And feelings of sadness that we had to win it against a brave team like yours.

Team India, Team Pakistan.

There is spring in the air across our two countries. You together brought that spring. I hope like millions of others we have the wisdom and foresight to preserve it.

Team India! Team Sri Lanka, Team Pakistan!

May God continue to be with us as He was throughout the series and make us better human beings by being better sportsmen. (3-4-11)


It was a depressing day for me yesterday.Thought of stopping reading and writing, closing my blog and deactivating my Twitter account once again and withdrawing into a shell. Fortunately, didn't do any of those stupid things. Am better today. My zest for life which was missing yesterday is back.B.Raman 2-4-11



( To be read in coninuation of my article of January 8,2011, titled "The Samjauta Express Explosion: The Follow-Up" at )

The investigation into the February 18,2007, explosions on board the Samjauta Express to Pakistan that killed 68 persons 43 of them Pakistanis returning home after visiting India is becoming messier and messier, thereby further discrediting Indian investigating agencies.

2. Initial investigation pointed the needle of suspicion to Jihadi terrorists belonging to Pakistani organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). A finding by the US Department of Treasury, which is responsible for stopping flow of funds to terrorists, also blamed the LET and Al Qaeda.

3. Subsequently, Indian investigation agencies claimed that further investigation made by them showed that the act of terrorism on board the train was actually the work of some Hindu extremists, who had association with some Hindutva organisations in the past.They went to town with a confession reportedly made before a magistrate by Swami Assemanand with alleged past links to some Hindutva elements. In his confessional statement, which mysteriously found its way into the hands of a journalist of the "Tehelka" magazine, he had confessed his role not only in the incident on board the train, but also in the terrorist attacks against members of the Muslim community at Ajmer Sharif,Malegaon and the Mecca mosque at Hyderabad.

4. While his confessional statement, which was prematurely leaked through the "Tehelka, was under verification, he is reported to have retracted it. In its issue of March 31,2011,the "Times of India" has reported as follows: "In a major twist, Swami Assemanand has turned hostile and has accused investigative agencies, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), of pressurising him to make confessions".

5. The TOI has quoted him as having told an Ajmer court on March 29,2011, as follows: " I have been pressurised mentally and physically by the investigating agencies to confess that I was behind these blasts." He is also reported to have told the court that he was threatened and pressurised to become a Government witness in this case.

6.The retraction of his confession came a day before the meeting between Prime Ministers Dr.Manmohan Singh and Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani at Mohali during the India-Pakistan World Cup cricket semi-final. It coincided with the meeting of the Home/Interior Secretaries of the Governments of India and Pakistan held on March 28 and 29. The Indian delegation to the talks was reported to have shared with the Pakistani delegation some details of the confessional statement on March 29. The same issue of the TOI has reported as follows quoting an unidentified member of the Indian delegation to the talks: " Pakistan was given this information with the promise that the updated information will be shared with it once the NIA, which is probing the case since July last year, filed its charge-sheet in the court."

7. Assemanand's denial of the confession does not absolve him of responsibility for his involvement in the train blast. He can even now be successfully prosecuted provided other suspects who were arrested during the investigation---either on the basis of his confession or through other independent evidence--- stick to their respective statements and testify against him in the court. If they do not do so, the entire case regarding the involvement of some members of the Hindu community in the train blast could fail.

8. The leakage of the details of the confessional statement to the media before the statement had been verified in all material particulars was apparently an attempt by the Government to use its investigation agencies to score political gains against the Hindutva organisations. This partisan political game seems to have boomeranged as a result of the retraction of the confession.

9. Whether jihadi terrorists or some Hindu elements were involved, the forensic evidence collected such as the nature of the improvised explosive devices would be the same. On the basis of the same forensic evidence, jihadi terrorists were initially blamed. Then after the confessional statement, some Hindus were blamed. Now with the confessional statement most probably losing its value because of the retraction, who are the real perpetrators of the crime?

10. The investigating agencies could find themselves in a very embarrassing situation in answering this question. This is what happens when investigating agencies deviate from the path of professionalism and let themselves be used in partisan political games. (2-4-11)

( The writer is 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: )