Among the list of experts on writing on terrorism in India, two names – B Raman and Parveen Swami – stand tall. These two gentlemen have been in the business for some years, and are very swift in penning article after article before, during and after every bomb blast on Indian soil. Through their lengthy details that are focused on exploring the causes and consequences of every terror attack, including the involvement of possible groups, individuals and organizations either with absolute conviction or floral depiction, they have been feeding the readers with a whole new world of terror regime. Possessed with sublime insight into the subject and years of professional experience, the duo has not only been presenting a detailed ‘analysis’ of every bomb blast, but are also making us believe the ‘possible perpetrators’ that we need to take notice of.
Like many other concerned citizens, I have been following these two erudite professionals for long, and I am impressed by their missionary zeal to create an intellectual environment in our country where people ‘must’ be fed with a kind of notion as to who ‘must’ be the men behind the numerous terror attacks on Indian soil, and how ‘these men’ succeeded in carrying out such terrifying attacks. Well, both the exerts do often base their stories on official line of investigations, which have been mired with dubious falsehood duly smashed in the court of law on various occasions, or concocted stories woven into a series of events that seem actual happenings, though which often proved to be far from truth.
My point of disagreement with these two experts on terrorism is related to the recent low-intensity blast outside the Chinnaswami Cricket stadium on 17 April 2010 and acquittal of Fahim Ansari and Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 26/11 case. B Raman, in his piece, ‘Bangalore Blasts’ (Outlook, 18 April 2010), starts thus: “Unidentified elements had planted three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of low sophistication outside a stadium in Bangalore where an IPL cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers” was going on, which clearly shows his complete ignorance of the perpetrators. Ironically, he contradicts his own assertion when he begins the last paragraph thus: “Locals belonging to the Indian Mujahideen ought to be the primary suspects”. His use of ‘ought to be’ is a forced statement that the readers must take it as true, albeit investigation was yet to begin. And because, he goes on, “The IM had carried out serial explosions in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi in 2007-08 and tried unsuccessfully to carry out explosions in Surat”, they must have carried out the Bangalore blast as well. I have hardly come across such a blatant example of ‘proposition and inference’ based purely on predetermined intellectual guess. Raman concludes his write up thus: “Like the Bangalore blasts of July, 2008, those of April 17, 2010, would appear to have been carried out by inadequately trained perpetrators–most probably locals.” So, we must believe that ‘locals”, i.e. Muslims, even those who are naïve and new are being drawn into terror acts. This is nothing but a well calculated conjecture, more a fictional story than an analytical article directed towards creating an opinion that only Indian Muslims are involved in terror acts. His use of the word ‘probably’ lessens some degree but not the affect, while the word ‘appear’ proves he is not sure.
Now comes to what the other expert, Parween Swami, has written on the Bangalore blasts. In his article, ‘To Bangalore with Hate’ (The Hindu, 21 April 2010), Swami has created a whole fictional world of personal crime, which is based on a character called Sarfaraz Nawaz. I salute his penchant for creating a fictional world of criminal biography laced with due scholarship, but I object his intention. More than that I wonder how a newspaper like the Hindu offers such fictional details to its readers that are based purely on, as Swami himself admits, “Investigators have pieced together a fascinating account of how multiple jihadist cells formed across the region”. It seems highly unprofessional when Swami writes, “In 2007, Nawaz met Nasir in Kerala and discussed plans for an attack on Bangalore”, as if he is writing a movie script, which has been played before his eyes. His fictional story blends a pan-Islamic bond of SIMI, LeT, and other extremist groups and individuals in India in which IM is a major component.
While giving the biographical details of Nawaz, Swami acknowledges the “disturbing gaps in intelligence; gaps that allowed jihadists to mobilise and recruit members, and prepare for attacks”, he fails to write about the utter failures of our securities agencies in arresting the real culprits, or prosecuting the innocents lots, for example, the acquittal of eight innocent Muslims by the Patiala House Court in January 2010, whom the Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested on false charges of plotting terror attacks on Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun in 2005, and who spent five years in jail for no fault of theirs While delivering the judgement, the Patiala Higgh Court also criticized the Special Cell of the Delhi Police for cooking up false cases against innocent Muslims (see Tehelka Magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 8, 9 & 10, February 27-March 13, 2010). But neither veteran Raman nor zealous Swami has taken pains to create a write up based on truth, but on mere guesses as was done by the latter in his article, ‘Behind the Batla House Encounter; (The Hindu, 10 October 2008), in which he does not cite ‘locals’, but creates a fictional details how things reached up to the encounter. None of them took a trip to Jamia Nagar to ask the scores of witnesses who watched the ‘Batla House encounter’ on 19 September 2008 live.
In 26/11 case, the acquittal of FahIm Ansari (highlighted as ‘prize catch for Mumbai police by media then) and Shaikh Sabahunddin Ahmed has not only proved Swami absolutely wrong, but it also raises questions over his investigative journalism, at least the official sources he cites for his explanations. In a front page news item “Concerns grow on Lashkar designs” (The Hindu, February 12, 2008), Swami writes, “Fahim Ahmad Ansari, a Mumbai resident who was helping the cell plan attacks on the Mumbai Stock Exchange and Churchgate Railway Station, also held a legitimate Pakistani passport….Mohammad Sabahuddin, who helped execute the 2005 attack on the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore before going on to become the cell’s overall commander, used a Pakistani passport to travel between Karachi, Qatar, Dhaka and Kathmandu. Sabahuddin told interrogators he had left his Pakistani passport behind in Bangladesh, fearing it would be detected.” In his other article, “India’s strategic deafness & the massacre in Mumbai” (The Hindu, November 29, 2008), Swami also mentions Fahim Ansari as Lashkar operative, citing the usual “credible intelligence.” But the verdict pronounced by a special anti-terror court has smashed the police version of the story, along with Swami’s line of write up.
Judge M.L. Tahaliyani, while disbelieving the prosecution story of how the duo facilitated the attack by supplying allegedly at LeT’s behest, a hand-drawn map of terror targets to the gunmen and finding the entire evidence against the accused ‘highly doubtful’, observed, “I feel the whole theory of the map being given by Ansari to Sabahunddin in Nepal, then the crude map being found unsoiled in the blood soaked pocket of a dead terrorist’s trousers is unbelievable…especially when the conspirators were relying on advance technology like GPS and VOIP all along ….Why would the LeT commanders rely on crude maps drawn by Ansari when sophisticated versions of the same work are easily available on websites like Google earth and Wikimapia?”
Now that the Karnataka government has come up with the statement that underworld elements and betting lobby were behind the 17 April twin low-intensity bomb explosions outside the Chinnaswamy Cricket stadium in Bangalore, I think these two experts should at least write a corrigendum to their earlier articles, if they have the least professional ethics. And now that the Mumbai court acquitted Fahim Anasri and Sabahunddin, Swami should at least acknowledge serious gaps in his long pieces that are nothing but cock and bull stories. Cock And Bull Stories On Terror, By M Shamsur Rabb Khan
13 May, 2010, Countercurrents.org