M A I N   N E W S

Special to the tribune
‘Islamist, Hindu terror India’s twin worries’
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

India faces a twin threat from indigenous Islamist and Hindu terrorism, according to a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

The authors of the report say: “Despite New Delhi’s reluctance to openly acknowledge the fact, India also has its own indigenous Islamist terrorism threat.” They warn that as India’s Muslim minority continues to suffer from “glaring social inequities,” it is likely that some among them will be vulnerable to recruitment in militant groups such as the the SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

The newly emergent IM, widely believed to be an offshoot or pseudonym of the SIMI, “has been found complicit in a number of recent bombings, even as government leaders continue to name Pakistan as an abettor of such episodes,” according to the report. In 2010, the government of India outlawed the IM.

The CRS report says that SIMI “may be viewed in alignment with the greater international jihadi movement, given its endorsement of the goals of the Al-Qaida and its links with other international terrorist groups such as the Pakistan-based LeT and Harakat-ul-Jihad Islami.”

The report also underscores the threat to India from Hindu extremist groups. “Even more recent are overt signs that India is home to militant Hindu nationalist groups intent on launching domestic terrorist attacks,” it says.

The police arrested nine members of a Hindu terrorist cell in connection with the twin bomb blasts in Malegaon, Maharashtra, in September, 2008. In 2010, Hindutva extremist Swami Aseemanand confessed to involvement in a number of terrorist attacks previously blamed on Islamist militants.

“Thus did ‘Hindu terrorism’ become a new and highly controversial phrase in India’s national dialogue. Never before in the country’s history had the phrase been so widely used, and the development had major and continuing effects on India’s national psyche,” the report says.

On India’s role in Afghanistan, the report says with US President Barack Obama’s decision to drawdown US troops from Afghanistan, “New Delhi faces a choice of maintaining/increasing its efforts in Afghanistan, risking potentially dangerous reactions from Islamabad, or scaling back its efforts in the hope of easing Pakistan’s insecurities.”

The report takes note of the recent anti-corruption protests, led by social activist Anna Hazare and says his arrest made the government look “inept and undemocratic, and united a wide range of otherwise reluctant actors in support of Hazare’s movement.”

US CONG REPORT: 2014 poll may be Rahul vs Modi affair

As the debate on the potential prime ministerial contenders for the 2014 elections picks up in India, the report says it might just turn out to be a direct contest between the controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. The report finds Modi a strong prime ministerial candidate for the opposition BJP in 2014, while at the same time discussing the prospect of the Congress putting up Rahul Gandhi for the position. However, the report which gives a detailed account of international political dimensions of India, does not clearly state it would be a Modi vs Gandhi affair in 2014. — PTI





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