Saturday, November 8, 2008

Move to the offensive mode: Doval

Move to the offensive mode: Doval
Sept 27, 2008
An Interview by Harinder Baweja
Source: Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 38,

Whoever thinks faster will win, former IB chief AK Doval tells HARINDER BAWEJA

As the former director of the Intelligence Bureau, what do you think the state needs to do to counter terror?

The state does not have the political will by which it can convert its intrinsic state power into real power. That can happen if the politicians are prepared to take the right decisions in the national interest, unmindful of the political consequences to their own self and their party. When there is a conflict between the interest of a party or an individual and the interest of the state, the latter should prevail.

Is there a failure in collecting cutting edge intelligence?

We require pro-active intelligence to degrade their [terrorists’] capability and degrade their resources. We are chasing them, but they are ahead of us. You require a paradigm shift in the intelligence approach. We have to get from the defensive mode to the offensive mode. Every hour, new ideas need to be generated. It is essentially a game of outsmarting and outwitting. Whoever can think faster and do the unexpected will win the game.

From past experience we know that POTA and TADA did not succeed.

It is totally incorrect. Neither TADA failed, nor POTA failed. First we must know what is the purpose of legislation. Legislation is the demonstration of national will through politically elected representatives on a particular issue. Through POTA you conveyed to the terrorists groups and their mentors that India will respond to acts of terror with all the force at its command.
It also works as a deterrant not only to the terrorists but their overground supporters. Legislation is not about how many people have been sent to jail. It also works as a motivator for the law enforcing agencies.

Conviction under TADA was 1 percent.

Anti-terrorist laws are not for conviction only. When POTA was in force, only onetwentieth of the number died as compared to when POTA was removed. Within six months of removal of POTA, SIMI struck on July 5, 2005 at Ayodhya. The trail of their terrorist depravations from that day has remained unabated.

But SIMI activists are being acquitted by the courts for lack of evidence.

Convictions and acquittals depend on the evidence that is produced in the court and not on the guilt of the individual. The courts are not there to find the truth but to examine the evidence . In terrorist cases, the evidence is difficult to find, particularly if the yardstick of common crimes is applied to them.

But there is something called the criminal justice system.

Yes, a criminal justice system is important. However, the Mallimath Committee that examined the criminal administration system of India unequivocally felt that the country’s criminal justice system was totally inadequate for meeting terrorist threats.
They recommended far reaching changes which, unfortunately, the government has shelved. Terrorism is a form of war, and its jurispudence has to be different from those applicable with respect to ordinary crime.

How can this serious threat be met?

The solution lies in various concentric circles — at the levels of policy formulation, implementation, technical, operational and legal. We also need policies that will minimise the sense of alienation among various sections of society. We also need to minimise collateral damages. There is a need for bringing convergence in intelligence activity and at least bringing all central intelligence agencies under one umbrella, as has been done in the US.


Expert advice to cops: Innovate

Expert advice to cops: Innovate
Date: Sep 15, 2008
Source: The Times Of India

Every time serial bomb blasts take place, the absence of real time intelligence is lamented. And the Delhi blasts on Saturday were no exception.
But former spymasters and top strategic analysts believe the battle between terrorists and intelligence officers is a cat-and-mouse game where the side with better innovative skills stays one step ahead of the other.
If intelligence officers are not able to surprise terrorists, then terrorists will surprise the nation, says ex-IB boss Ajit Kumar Doval. The ability to carry out a surprise strike — for terrorists, it could be a bomb blast; for intelligence officials, it could be a preventive swoop — depends on the team's ability to generate new ideas. New ideas help find ways to create new tactics to combat and thwart the adversary.
Which is why, says former Intelligence Bureau director Doval, there's nothing like a time-tested formula for either terrorists to carry out their devious plans or for intelligence officials to stop them. The sheer ingeniousness of the plan enabled terrorists to hoodwink the US intelligence apparatus and carry out the 9/11 strikes. Says Doval, "Time-tested wisdom is an anti-doctrine in successful intelligence operations. You require constant refinement of tactics on the ground. A successful tactic can be used only once. It's a use-and-throw technology."
Ironically, the same holds true for terrorists too. For instance, once a terrorist knows that intelligence officials indulge in telephone tapping, he is unlikely to divulge classified information during a call; on the contrary, he will only talk what he wants the other side to know.

Armed Conflicts and Peace Processes in South Asia

Armed Conflicts and Peace Processes in South Asia
Nov 30, 2006
Speaker: Ajit Kumar Doval
Source: Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

The left wing problem should not be seen statistically. It is seen as a serious problem because it tends to spread as of today, even if incidents take place sporadically. The important aspect is the number of people involved in the attacks or incidents of violence. In such cases, response option becomes difficult and is limited. Such helplessness of response brings violent changes. In future, this is likely to increase as more and more people are being mobilized.
We should get out of our propensity to look all the problems in a single readymade framework and deal with this problem independently and in alienation. There are vested interests which want to preserve the conditions. This way, the problem becomes extremely difficult. The chapter, falls short of tracing out a comprehensive history/background of left movement. Various crucial stages have been found missing from the historical background. The dynamics within the ideology have also to be taken into account to understanding the problem. In different areas, different dynamics are prevailing.
Impact of patterns of violence that takes place need to be studied. It would have been worthwhile, if this would have been taken into account in the chapter. There is a problem with the identification of the groups, which could have been as ideologues, armed groups etc. A deep study of how the money is generated, where does it go and how is it disbursed, who all are involved is needed.
The chapter on Nepal was a good though events have fundamentally changed since when it was written. It provides a wonderful background as to how it developed from the beginning till the last decade. Factors that influenced it have been covered. Last one year had been eventful. Recommendations for genuine and transparent democracy are agreeable. Recent visit and remarks by Prachanda that Indian Maoists are ideologically mislead is significant.


Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval

Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval
An Interview by Rajeev Sharma
Nov 19, 2006
Source: The Sunday Tribune

Mr Ajit Kumar Doval, the former Chief of Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, is an internationally renowned expert on strategic affairs. He is known for his out-of-box thinking, unconventional wisdom and pragmatic views.
Mr Doval speaks to The Sunday Tribune exclusively on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India beginning tomorrow.
Q: The Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr Sun Yuxin, has said the whole of Arunachal Pradesh belonged to China. What could be his motive behind this comment?
A: The remarks made by the Chinese Ambassador were bad in form and content. A subjective interpretation of facts, history and obligations under international law does not alter the realities. There is a bilateral mechanism in place where the border question is being addressed and such assertions do not help the process.
More important, it was the timing, stridency and the fact that the remark was made without any apparent provocation is disquieting. Obviously, it was a deliberate assertion and not an off the cuff remark. Its impact on President Hu Jintao’s visit could also not have been lost sight of. It may well be an attempt to put India on the defensive when addressing various bilateral issues.
Q: How do you see Mr Hu’s visit to India? Will it be a successful, substantive, forward-looking visit? Or is it just a stopover for Mr Hu who undertakes a far more important and sensitive visit to Pakistan from November 23?
A: It is a very important visit. India and China are poised to be two major players in the emerging global scenario and have much in common, both in strengths and problems. Together they have world’s one-third population, are fastest growing economies and share many problems of growth and development. Most important, they are neighbours with a long common border and it is in the interest of both the countries not to grow as strategic adversaries.
President Hu’s visit is an important visit and underrating it will be a mistake. Linking it to his visit to Pakistan may not be the right approach. With a long-term perspective, we need to formulate an independent China policy and firm sure footed moves at this stage will help in evolving that policy.
Q: Can India trust China considering Beijing’s close ties with its all-weather ally Pakistan? Is India’s China policy faulty? Should India reverse its stand on two crucial issues of Tibet and Taiwan? What will be the pros and cons if New Delhi were to do that?
A: The question of trust and distrust is not the issue. Identifying our best national interests and developing a convergence to achieve them is the issue. Let us not underestimate our own strengths. India is as important to China as China is to India in pursuing their respective long-term national interest. A conflict relationship is not in the interest of either country. How do we develop that commonality of interests, fully protecting our strategic, security, political and economic interests, is the challenge.
India does not have to speak from a position of weakness or strength but reasonableness and rationality. China would do well to develop greater sensitivity and understanding of India’s genuine concerns.
Q: Is it correct that the Chinese have re-started arming the Indian Northeast insurgents, reversing their own decades-old policy?
A: I don’t have any information about the Chinese arming the Northeastern insurgent group. I do not know what is the basis of your information. On the face of it, it looks highly unlikely to me.
Q: How do you see the trade route with China through Nathu La in Sikkim? Will it ultimately work as the Chinese mainland-Lhasa railway is now poised to expand to the Indian borders? What are the military and strategic implications of this railway line for India?
A: Opening of Nathu La for trade was an important move forward. Its trade potential, at least at this juncture, may not be very high but its symbolic import cannot be underestimated. It does have some security implications, but I am sure the agencies concerned would have taken appropriate countermeasures. Whether the experiment will prove to be fruitful or not will depend on overall evolution of relations between the two great neighbours.
Lhasa being connected to the mainland by a railway line has definite military and strategic implications for India. The railway infrastructure has been built which is capable of enhancing combat capability of China and transporting hardware for military offensive. India has to factor it in its higher defence planning and match the capabilities.
Q: How do you see the role of Yughen Thinley Dorjee, the Chinese-recognised 17th Karmapa working among the Tibetan Diaspora both within Tibet and outside, especially in India?
A: On the face of it, the whole sequence of his coming to India, establishing himself, developing contacts and linkages, gives an impression that there is more to the whole episode than what meets the eye.
I definitely feel that it is a sensitive matter and needs to be addressed from a higher plane of knowledge. Of course, if he is under the spell of some hostile influences, internal or external, it can be detrimental to India and we need to maintain a high degree of vigil.


Old men and their Official secrets

Old men and their Official secrets
3 Sep 2006
Source: The Times Of India

When a man lies to his wife about where he is going, he is not always headed to his lover's nest. Sometimes, it is just a state secret.
For decades, the lives of such men who walk down the forbidden alleys of intelligence or the nuclear programme are bound by a written code of silence. Then one day they retire. And state secrets become distant memories. Even their memories are guarded by the Official Secrets Act.
Fobbing off the wife is a tact that former Intelligence Bureau director Ajit Kumar Doval learnt during his exciting life. His wife, Anu, unknowingly, played host to a band of armed men at their home in Aizwal. For two years.
He told her that they were part of an operation. But they were, in fact, army commanders of the legendary Laldenga's Mizo National Front, which was involved in the Mizo insurgency.
"They were all heavily armed but I had given my word that they would be safe. My wife cooked pork for them even though she was not used to cooking pork," says 61-year-old Doval, chuckling. His wife came to know of their identity many years later and felt miffed.
Besides hosting the Mizo army commanders and helping the government in Mizoram, Doval's 33 years of service took him to inaccessible areas of India's north-east.
He was inside the Golden Temple in 1989 during Operation Black Thunder when security forces were charging in to flush out terrorists from there. He also helped plan the 1992 Punjab state elections.
An interesting aspect of his career was the six years he spent in Pakistan. That country's Intelligence always shadowed him. One day, Doval decided to visit the dargah in a local market at Lahore. The attraction was a qawaali programme.
"I decided to go incognito and dressed up as a middle-class Muslim gentleman. Later, when I was enjoying the qawaali, one Pakistani Intelligence officer came to me very quietly and whispered into my ear that my fake beard was dangling. It was so embarrassing. I quickly left."
With his two sons having flown away to the West, Doval now leads a quiet life in Delhi with his wife. He has no plans to write a book, unlike his colleague and former joint director of CBI, Maloy Krishna Dhar, who broke traditions by writing a book Open Secrets, which he called "the first open confession of intelligence operative".

Pak must destroy terror infrastructure: Doval

Pak must destroy terror infrastructure: Doval
An Interview by Rajeev Sharma
August 6, 2006
Source: The Sunday Tribune

A quintessential “operations” man and the Bhishma Pitamah of the Indian intelligence brass, Ajit Kumar Doval (IPS 1968 batch, Kerala cadre), is viewed as a national asset. A former Chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi conferred on him the Kirti Chakra.
Mr Doyal spent years in Pakistan and is credited with breathtaking acts of espionage during his stay there. Incidentally, he was the Centre’s chief negotiator with hijackers of Indian Airlines IC 814 in Kandahar. In an interview to The Sunday Tribune, he maintains that Pakistan must dismantle its terrorist infrastructure at any cost.
Q: What should India do to make Pakistan dismantle the terrorism infrastructure?
A: Pakistan will have to do it and it is bound by international obligations including the UN resolutions 1373, 1455, etc. and bilateral commitments. India has to create compulsions for Pakistan to do it. It has to be forced to realise that this perceived low-cost option to achieve politico-strategic objectives is too costly. It involves putting a stop to recruitment and training, financing and equipping, communication facilities and demolishing collaborative networks of terrorist with gunrunners, underworld, currency counterfeiters, hawala operators, etc. It would also involve ISI dismantling its networks in Bangladesh, Nepal, Middle East etc created to assist terrorists.
Q: Is India justified in postponing the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan following the Mumbai serial blasts? Can the composite dialogue process with Pakistan and terrorism go side by side?
A: Yes. The dialogue process cannot succeed as long as Pakistan’s mindset is routed in what President Musharraf reportedly said on July 15, 2003 to Gulf News that “we don’t trust the Indian Government. Before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue” and “another Kargil taking place depends on how the peace talks proceed.” If blood and terror or the threat of it, implicit or explicit, is the only argument that Pakistan has to bring to the negotiating table, the talks have no prospects.
Q: What prevents India from using satellite imagery and other modern devices to nail down Pakistan’s lies?
A: Jurisprudence of covert actions, as also its response, is not governed by the laws of evidence. Evidence, or lack of it, is only an argument used by the players to lend legitimacy to what they want to do or refrain from doing in their perceived self-interest. We do use high technology intelligence capability wherever needed. But satellite imageries can only show you some physical objects on the ground but it cannot connect it with the terrorists.
We have much better evidence in the form of hundreds of Pakistanis and their associates arrested who have given graphic details of how they were recruited, trained, motivated, tasked and enabled to undertake terrorist actions. We have loads of terrorist documents and diaries to prove Pak involvement. Sharing of evidence like Dawood Ibrahim or Salahuddin’s Pakistani passports and identity cards, etc. may be good evidence in a court but not in the game of intelligence. The adversaries insist on evidence not for taking action, but to plug the gaps and bring about correctives.
Q: War with Pakistan will have much less casualties than the number of people who have lost their lives or limbs due to Pakistan’s proxy war. Is this view cynical?
A: I find this view cynical to the extent that we are not living in the medieval age where wars were waged to kill people. Wars are fought to achieve well defined political or military objectives. Loss of lives is just a collateral damage. Pakistan’s nuclear status will not have a decisive bearing on India. However, like many other components, nuclear factor will also be an element that will have to be factored in.
Q: What does Pakistan get out of this proxy war strategy which is out of sync with modern times?
A: Pakistani strategists are fully aware that terrorists cannot dismember or weaken India. It, however, looks at the proxy war as a low-cost and sustainable offence which can bleed India, against whom it harbours a compulsive hostility. It also feels that it commits a large body of Indian troops to internal security duties thereby narrowing the gap of force-level disparities between the two countries. Pakistan also assesses that it may lead to communal polarisation in India increasing its leverage amongst Indian Muslims. In the aftermath of the Afghan war, it also felt that so many trained jehadis and loose terrorist weapons floating around could be a source of serious internal instability and could best be directed towards India. Retarding India’s economic progress was also an objective.
Pakistan has been proved wrong on all counts. India’s military preparedness is as high as ever, Indian Muslims hate Pakistan today more than ever before and India’s economic progress is for the world to see. Ironically, Pakistan today is much more internally unstable today because of the jehadi factor.
Q: Is General Musharraf in total control of Pakistan? Is he no longer capable of reining in terrorist outfits?
A: General Musharraf is in total control of Pakistan like any other army ruler in the past. However, the people’s hearts and minds may not be with him. Nevertheless, he and his army are capable of reining in terrorist outfits, given the will.
Q: Will the Indo-US nuclear deal adversely impact India’s strategic programme?
A: It was a positive move. But the devil lies in the detail. The form it is taking now leaves much to be desired. The fine print is not conducive to our long term national interests.

The IB chief who dined with militants

The IB chief who dined with militants
15 Jul 2004
Source: Times of India

A daredevil operations man who spent three decades chasing, terrorising and educating terrorists is now India's Intelligence Bureau chief.
Unlike his predecessors, who have largely been faceless officers with just grey hairs of wisdom and a bit of luck in winning the crucial political nod, Ajit Kumar Doval, brings with him action, dynamism and adventure that has kept him in the news for years.
The office of the Intelligence Bureau chief demands seniority, which all his predecessors had. Doval has that too. But he has more to offer. He is starkly different in his approach as his track record shows.
An operations man, Doval has spent more than three decades in the rough and tumble of India's fight against terrorism.
He was posted in the northeast at the height of militancy. Among the numerous tales surrounding Doval, one tells of the few days he spent with a senior militant in his hide-out, without the latter realising that his companion was a top cop.
It was during the height of Punjab terrorism that Doval, a 1968 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, actually proved his mettle. In fact, he went on to become India's first civilian to win the military bravery honour Kirti Chakra.
Doval, say his peers, has shown an uncanny ability to seize the moment and act, on several occasions putting his life at risk.
Once, in pursuit of a hardcore Punjab terrorist, Doval got a tip-off that his quarry was planning to flee the area.
Doval had to act before the reinforcement arrived. The not-so-tall IPS officer jumped on the terrorist and held on to the tall, well-built Sikh for quite a while before the back-up arrived.
"He is unconventional, courageous and sharp," says one of his contemporaries.
On another instance, Doval had asked a few of his colleagues to meet at a particular point for the day's work, mostly surveillance.
Minutes after the juniors arrived, Doval showed up as a rickshaw-puller, and asked his juniors to hop on to the rickshaw.
It is his hands-on approach that endears him to his juniors. When his appointment as IB chief was announced last week, the entire IB office erupted in celebrations, including those who were in the running for the post.
"I am sure he would bring back a lot of professionalism. He definitely has a vision for the agency," says a former IB officer.
When IC-814 was hijacked in December 1999, Doval was the obvious choice to go to Kandahar, Afghanistan to negotiate.
Doval's training as a professional negotiator helped, as did his ability to speak Pashtu and Urdu. At the end of his Kandahar negotiations, Doval was featured on the front page of a Pakistani magazine and was a prominent media figure across the border.
But the then government was in a hurry. Doval and other officials had to talk to Jaish militants without any proper brief, without much time, and with not much space to manouevre.
Decisions had already been taken in Delhi and on the last day of 1999, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh landed at Kandahar with three dreaded terrorists, who are now kingpins of terrorism in Kashmir.
Doval continues to do what he is best at: watching, chasing and studying terrorists, and warning and informing the government about the nation's security situation.
The Kashmir Challenge
For the past few years, Doval has been a crucial advisor to the government on Kashmir and Pakistan matters. His judgement has been on target on
Kashmir and Pakistan, says a senior bureaucrat who has interacted with Doval on several occasions.
Now as the Kashmir situation once again threatens to get out of hand, Doval is in the thick of action. It would require much courage and imagination to keep Kashmir on track and to get the doves among Hurriyat Conference to come back to the negotiations table. This will involve some political manoevring as well.

India’s new generation intelligence agencies – Sharp, Smart and Operational – Bond and Swartzenegar types take control

India’s new generation intelligence agencies – Sharp, Smart and Operational – Bond and Swartzenegar types take control
July 14, 2004

India’s intelligence agencies are taking different look. The agencies are led by sharp, smart and street fast operational heroes who bring real world experiences on the table. These are new generation Bond and Swartzenegar types who can terrorize the terrorists and make them run for cover!
A daredevil operations man who spent three decades chasing, terrorizing and educating terrorists is now India's Intelligence Bureau chief. Unlike his predecessors, who have largely been faceless officers with just grey hairs of wisdom and a bit of luck in winning the crucial political nod, Ajit Kumar Doval, brings with him action, dynamism and adventure that has kept him in the news for years. The office of the Intelligence Bureau Chief demands seniority, which all his predecessors had. Doval has that too. But he has more to offer. He is starkly different in his approach as his track record shows. An operations man, Doval has spent more than three decades in the rough and tumble of India's fight against terrorism. He was posted in the northeast at the height of militancy. Among the numerous tales surrounding Doval, one tells of the few days he spent with a senior militant in his hideout, without the latter realising that his companion was a top cop. It was during the height of Punjab terrorism that Doval, a 1968 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, actually proved his mettle. In fact, he went on to become India''s first civilian to win the military bravery honour Kirti Chakra. Doval, say his peers, has shown an uncanny ability to seize the moment and act, on several occasions putting his life at risk. Once, in pursuit of a hardcore Punjab terrorist, Doval got a tip-off that his quarry was planning to flee the area. Doval had to act before the reinforcement arrived. The not-so-tall IPS officer jumped on the terrorist and held on to the tall, well-built Sikh for quite a while before the back up arrived. "He is unconventional, courageous and sharp," says one of his contemporaries.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ways to defeat ourselves

Ways to defeat ourselves
Ajit Doval
Jun 01, 2006
Source: Indian Express

On the face of it the two have no correlation. Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), which has kept strategic thinkers engrossed for the last decade and a half, is about the what, why, where and how of future conflicts and possible responses. The reservation issue is an expression of anger and frustration in some of India’s bright youth against what they perceive as denial of justice and equality.
Before I explain the connection, let me explain what generation warfare is all about. Following the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 when fire arms began to dominate the battlefield, the concept of nation states started concretising and the state established monopoly on war, the first generation of modern warfare started. It involved massed manpower concentration of armies outnumbering the enemy. It lasted till machine guns and indirect fire made such tactics suicidal. The second generation warfare was based on massed fire power with heavy reliance on artillery; the tactics involving outdoing the adversary in fire power, speed and movement. The third generation warfare was based on manoeuvre and high technology exemplified by the Blitzkrieg of World War II. Later, strategic weapon systems made big wars un-winnable. Conventional wars became cost ineffective. There was no guarantee the state with superior weapons/ armies would necessarily emerge victorious (US in Vietnam, USSR in Afghanistan) and unpredictable post-war consequences could turn victories into net national disadvantage (Afghanistan and Iraq).
This takes us to 4GW, warfare in which civil society becomes the critical element of war. Societal factors within a state will influence forces both within and without — who will launch the war, against whom, how and when. Societies and governments which lose their legitimacy and credibility will be the most vulnerable. If an adversary has to destabilise and bleed a nation to achieve its strategic, political or economic ends, a fractured society will provide a ready ground to exploit the faultlines. It costs much less, can be sustained for longer and, with a few exceptions, even those who become tools of external machination are ignorant of that.
And then, there is a more serious danger within. Fragmentation of society unleashes forces which can destabilise the state, retard its economic growth, undermine the rule of law and lead to violence. How many of us are brave enough to concede that what beleaguered Punjab, J&K, Northeast and now left-wing extremist areas was to some extent a consequence of divisive politics providing openings to our external adversaries? We can ignore history’s lessons only at our peril. A fragmented society loses its national will, which is key. After all, in battles military might is used to subdue the will of a nation to enable the victor to dictate its terms of peace. Divisive politics, in the blind pursuit of power, at times ignores the impact of actions on the will of the nation. When that happens a country becomes a soft ground for launching a 4GW by asymmetric adversaries.
The guru of 4GW, William S. Lind, observed: “If nation states are going to survive they (people in power) must earn and keep the trust of the governed.” He told the American Council of Foreign Relations: “The heart of 4GW is a crisis of legitimacy of the state.” How true to the Indian model when he added, “The establishment is no longer made up of ‘policy types’. Most of its members are placemen. Their expertise is in becoming and then remaining members of the establishment. Their reality is covert politics and not the competence or expertise.” When 4GW visits them their response would be to “close the shutters on the windows of Versailles”.
India is an old civilisation but a new nation state. In the package of its rich national heritage it was also bequeathed many faultlines, prejudices and undesirable social practices. To build a strong, vibrant India, in which members of all communities could grow to their potential excellence we needed a social revolution that resisted the temptation to use these fissures to acquire and sustain power. After Independence many far-reaching laws were enacted to bring about socio-economic transformation — drastic changes in Hindu Civil Law, making untouchability a crime, abolition of zamindari, etc. They were all accepted with near national consensus. It is because the leaders of that time were genuinely interested in bringing about social transformation to build a strong Indian society — all enabled and empowered.
Why is it that the present initiative of the Government has such a divisive impact? It is essentially because no one is convinced, including the likely beneficiaries, that it has been done with bonafide intentions to bring about social justice. They feel it is meant to subserve the power interests of few, callously undermining its disastrous impact on society, its stability and security. It is the error of intentions which is at the root of the problem followed by a failure to anticipate its long-term consequences.
From a security point of view the reservation issue, particularly the way it has been handled, militates against India’s interest. It is not only about admission of some students to elite institutions. It impacts the mindset of the people belonging to different communities — rival sections of society considering their interests as inversely related. It is significant that the medicos and others spearheading the agitation personally have nothing to gain. Their admissions are not at stake. It is bad when it starts psychologically affecting our people in fields and factories, courts and police stations, cantonments and sports fields, classrooms and marketplaces. It may appear to be a harmless passing phenomenon but history testifies to the fact that social acrimonies have a cascading effect and it takes tremendous time and effort to bring about correctives.
The reservation issue is only the latest manifestation of a larger malaise: the politics of dividing the electorate — and society — on as many issues as possible till one’s own tiny segment becomes the biggest. It is the strategy of pygmies. It has to be substituted by the strategy of consolidation and integration of as many segments and interests groups as possible till one acquires the critical mass that gives legitimacy to rule. There is no dearth of issues on which, cutting across caste, communal and other divisive lines, Indian society can be consolidated and led. But that will involve vision, competence, commitment and honesty of purpose.
The writer was director, Intelligence Bureau

Red star over India

Red star over India
Ajit Doval
Apr 14, 2006
Source: Indian Express

Does Left Extremism really pose a threat to India’s security or is it something the media hyped up? After all, they do not question India’s territorial integrity and apparently are not working as proxies of powers hostile to India. They, at best, want a regime change, albeit through violence, which many others would also vote for. They raise issues of hunger and poverty. These and other nuances notwithstanding, the straight answer to the question is: Left Extremism poses a very real threat which has to be fought with total resolve. Any obfuscation would lead to increased costs and prolonged agony. Naxalites use violence to achieve their political objectives and target innocent lives and thus fully meet the definition of terrorism. Diluting India’s principled position that the “core issue” argument does not justify Terror would have serious implications. But let us examine why is it really a high potential threat.

First, they seek to bring about change through violence and annihilation of arbitrarily identified class enemies. In-built is destruction of all that free India stands for. If hypothetically, the “revolution” succeeds and the new dispensation becomes tyrannical, oppressive and corrupt, which with the exercise of absolute power it’s bound to, how does one get rid of it? Backed by the might of a totally politicised state apparatus, it would be unchangeable except through civil war or foreign intervention. Fortunately this is a remote threat.

Second, Naxalites feel no ideological compunction in aligning with and supporting forces adversarial to India’s security interests. In the name of supporting nationalist minorities, they support secessionists in Kashmir, insurgents in Northeast, LTTE in Sri Lanka and CPN (Maoist) in Nepal. Charu Majumdar, their role model, opposed India in the Bangladesh war. Support for the 1962 Chinese aggression is an old story. So much for their ideology of supporting people’s movements against oppressive regimes. Similarly, in the name of class war, in Bihar and Jharkhand, they indulge in the worst form of caste violence. They have a self-serving definition of “have nots” and exercise ruthless violence against the landless and tribals who do not support them. The massacre of Salwa Judum tribals illustrates this. Over 90 per cent of civilian victims of their violence are poor. Under the veneer of revolutionary ideology lies a ruthless ambition for absolute power.

Third, the “revolution” continues to gather strength, engulf new areas, militarise itself and make large areas of the country non-governable. Naxalites stun to submission the poor and the deprived and the state is unable to provide protection or even undertake schemes for their socio-economic uplift due to a vitiated security environment. Naxalites have a vested interest in perpetuating poverty to conserve and expand their constituency. Their area of dominance runs into thousands of sq km, one Punjab getting added to it every two years. This will erode India’s state power, retard its growth, prevent social and economic uplift of the poor and downtrodden and make the political process hostage to the politics of violence. This is the real danger.

Taking the trends of the last five years, we can build a model of the security scenario for the year 2010. Over 260 districts, nearly half of India, would be Naxal affected where the government’s writ hardly runs. If we add to this the insurgencies in the Northeast, militancy in J&K and the scourge of Islamic terrorism, India’s overall internal security landscape presents a frightening picture. The strength of left-wing armed cadres would soar from the existing 7,500 to over 16,000, with backup support of thousands of “revolutionary” militia. Their arsenal may be in the range of 12,000 to 15,000 sophisticated weapons. Jan adalats where spot justice is dispensed, extending to beheadings, may increase from the present three per week to one a day. Collection of taxes estimated to be in the range of Rs 17 crore per month may soar to over Rs 40 crore. This money power in economically backward and inaccessible tribal areas can cause havoc.

In this scenario, visualise Indian security forces thinly deployed in the countryside facing murderous crowds in the thousands, many equipped with automatic weapons. The force, in self-defence, will either over-react leading to unacceptable civilian casualties or will be disarmed and possibly lynched. It is noteworthy that despite a sizeable army and paramilitary presence, domination of the Kashmir Valley and six worst affected districts of Punjab proved difficult.

We should doctrinally accept it as a problem of terrorism and deal with it as such. On Thursday the PM recommended enhanced inter-state cooperation. He should call an all party meeting and build a consensus against providing any space to Naxalites for electoral gains or political appeasement. Proactively invoking Article 355 of the Constitution, legislation should be enacted empowering the Centre to suo motu deploy Central forces in badly affected areas. State governments may be informed that provisions of Articles 365/352 could be invoked in the eventuality of breakdown of constitutional machinery if they fail to control the problem.

The number of policemen available for per one lakh population in all the Naxal-affected states is amongst the lowest and much below the national average of 123 — Bihar 56, Chhattisgarh 92, Jharkhand 74, Orissa 92. At least 150 policemen per one lakh population must be made available. More important is qualitative upscaling of manpower. Operational capabilities of state intelligence, right up to the police station level, must be built for undertaking tactical operations. Concerted efforts to choke Naxals’ sources of finance and channels of procuring weapons also deserves high priority.

A concerted effort should be made to access the affected population to disabuse them of misleading propaganda. The media, think-tanks and NGOs operating in these region could be enlisted. These are only some illustrative policy ideas which need to be converted into a comprehensive action plan.

The writer was director, Intelligence