India on Friday withdrew a public list of most wanted fugitives it wants Pakistan to extradite after discovering at least one of them was in a prison, the latest embarrassment for a government hit by corruption scandals and political slip-ups.
The embarrassment is a personal blow to Chidambaram, seen as one of the more efficient ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s team, and it sparked calls for his resignation from the Hindu nationalist main oppostion Bharatiya Janta Party.
By Mohammad Jamil
Within one week after India released the list of most wanted persons allegedly living in Pakistan, at least four persons on the list are either in India or have died. Times of India carried a report about two dreaded terrorists, who the list claimed were hiding in Pakistan. “One of them, investigations revealed is dead and the other lodged in the city’s Cherlapalli prison.
Dawood Ibrahim’s elder brother, Noora, who died of kidney failure in Karachi last year, continued to show up as a wanted accused in the red-corner notice against his name. Chhota Rajan aide Ejaz Pathan, involved in the 1993 serial blasts, died in 2008 at Arthur Road jail after a heart attack. The red-corner notice against him showed him as wanted. Yet another embarrassing case was that of Feroze Abdul Khan, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai blast. He was nabbed from Navi Mumbai last year and is in a Mumbai jail”. With a view to turning up more heat on Pakistan after American Special Forces’ operation in Abbottabad killing Osama bin Laden, India released a list of 50 ‘Most Wanted Persons’ from Pakistan on 11th May 2011.
The list includes among others names such as Dawood Ibrahim, what they call 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the principal accused in the 2001 Parliament attack after his release in exchange of hostages in the Kandahar hijack episode in 1999. On Friday, Indian press has criticized the Indian government, as a man whose name features prominently among 50 alleged terrorists India wants from Pakistan, is living in Mumbai and regularly reports to a court that gave him bail. Indian government has ordered an inquiry into, what Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said, the ‘goof-up’ in the preparation of the list of ‘50 most wanted’ fugitives, submitted to Pakistan two months ago, as it included the name of a terror-accused Wazhul Kamar Khan living in Thane - a Mumbai suburb. There is a possibility that many more such cases would be unearthed and ultimately the list will shrink to contain a dozen or so, and majority of them would be found in India. India uses every ruse and every opportunity to denigrate Pakistan. It continues its propaganda blitz to prove Pakistan as a state that sponsors terrorism, but is likely to fail as in the past.
Wazhuk Kamar Khan is an accused in the 2003 Mulund train blast, which killed 11 persons. He was arrested but granted bail. He is living at Thane with his family, whereas his name figured at serial number 41 of the list of most wanted men’ given to Pakistan in March 2011. The embarrassment prompted the government to quickly order a probe, official sources said. The list was prepared in consultation with the Maharashtra police, the National Investigation Agency and the Central Bureau of Investigation. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in Agartala on Tuesday that a big issue should not be made out of one wrong name in the list. “The list was prepared months ago. Just one name... whether it is the same person or two persons of the same name, we have to see. Be that as it may, if you prepare a list of 50 people, one name, assuming that we are wrong in one name, 49 are right. I don’t think we should make a big issue of it”, he was quoted as saying by news agencies. But India stands exposed, as the news has raised doubts about other names given in the list, and the entire list seems to be bogus.
It is a matter of routine for Indian leadership to accuse Pakistan for every act of terrorism in India whereas it has been proved many a time that most acts of terrorism were committed by India’s homegrown terrorists. All along, India had also been officially denying any link of Hindu extremists with the mayhem, death and carnage resulting from the blasts. In January 2011, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief, Swami Aseemanand had confessed before a magistrate that he along with other Hindu activists was involved in the Malegon, Samjhota Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid bombings. Indian weekly Tehelka magazine stated that his confession has unraveled the inner workings of the Hindutva terror network. Pakistan had asked India to bring to justice the perpetrators of the bombing of Samjhota Express train in light of a RSS leader’s confession about the involvement of Sangh activists in the attack. “It took almost four years for the Samjhota Express investigations to come to this pass. We can only hope that no further time will be squandered in bringing the criminals to justice,” Foreign Office spokesman had told Indian news agency PTI in a text message.
India, using its clout with the occupiers and Afghan government, has been desperately trying to bring Afghanistan under her economic and political control with the main objective of damaging Pakistan’s interests. During his visit to Afghanistan, Manmohan Singh during his last week visit to Afghanistan has given $500 million to Afghan government to draw more benefits. Indian Consulates, under the cover of reconstruction activities in bordering provinces of Pakistan had purposely selected bordering provinces of Afghanistan to influence the divided tribes along Pak-Afghan border. Credible reports had revealed that some Maliks of Pakistani tribes were persuaded through middlemen and taken to Kabul for meetings with high ranking RAW officials. Millions of dollars were paid to the tribal Maliks to purchase their loyalties. Besides valuable gifts, all-paid visits to India were some of the ways the Indians bribed the tribal. These tribal elders, unaware of Indians designs, remain available to them and serve their interest. FATA and other settled areas like Swat and Malakand had remained violent in the past due to heavy investment by RAW with the collaboration of Afghan intelligence.
Indian’s act is so foul that her pretences to piety have not even a leg to stand on. Indian state’s adventurism of training, arming and bankrolling the Tamil Tiger insurgents had kept Sri Lanka destabilized for over two decades grievously. In 1970, Indian state agencies and army had established sanctuaries and training camps of Mukti Bahini insurgents on the Indian soil and infiltrated in then East Pakistan to soften it up for in eventual separation from a united Pakistan with their military intervention. The vile acts of Indian state have been documented in detail in published works of many Indian writers, including the characters deeply involved in these Indian interventionist episodes, who have spoken of their forays unabashedly and banefully. As for instance, the master-traininer of Mukti Bahini guerillas, one Shubeg Singh, an Indian army brigadier later promoted to major general and then cashiered, became the military commander of Jurnail Singh Bhindranwala who threw an armed challenge to the India state in late 1970s and triggered a blood-soaked separatist movement that kept India’s Punjab state convulsed for more than a decade.
That said. There is too much of perfidy to the Indian establishment’s act, which is now coming apart gradually. The realities on the ground are becoming too harsh to cover up by it. Right thinking and responsible Indians are finding it hard not to concede that much of the terrorism in India is homegrown. In December last, Home Minister Chidambaram had stated on Parliament’s floor that Hindu terrorism had grown more vicious than Muslim militancy. And young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had reportedly told an American diplomat that Hindu terrorism was far severer than any lashkars or jashes. Indian investigators have indeed found almost all terrorism attacks on mosques, shrines and other targets earlier blamed on the ISI were actually Hindu terrorists’ vile work. At this juncture, when the US is exerting pressure on Pakistan to do more, India should not take advantage of the situation, as the US forces would have to leave one day, and India and Pakistan have to live in this region. It is hoped that better sense will prevail, and India would do a bit of introspection to realize the importance of good neighbourly relations.
The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.