It would be in the fitness of things for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to disband the Sachar Committee on Minorities without further delay. This is an urgent imperative because Justice Sachar, whatever his mandate may be, has been raising hackles with his reckless attempts to divide every security agency and national institution on communal lines, with his determination to have a communal headcount everywhere. The goal, of course, is to claim low minority representation?even bias at entry point?and recommend proportional communal representation in all government services, most notably the police and armed forces.
That this is a recipe for disaster should be self-evident. Now, however, warning bells are ringing in the form of recent arrests made by Srinagar police of three soldiers and two policemen with likely links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). The arrests of the policemen and J&K Light Infantry soldiers have come within days of a grim warning by National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan that terrorists may have infiltrated the armed forces. Shri Narayanan suggested that attempts were being made to infiltrate the Air Force, and we have yet to ascertain that this is not so.
The use of the term ?infiltration? however suggests that the country'stop intelligence officers are still fearful in getting their act together. Infiltration is by outside elements, such as ISI agents pushed across the porous borders of Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal. What has happened in Jammu & Kashmir is of a different genre altogether. The alleged LeT agents are Indian Muslims who have procured army and police employment in a regular way, and were recruited by LeT either after being thus employed, or even before, which is doubly disturbing.
The soldiers arrested by Military Intelligence, Lance Naik Mohammad Shakeel, Sepoy Abdul Haq, and a third hitherto unnamed suspect, all hail from the Gursai village of Mendhar district in Poonch, and are believed to have links with the LeT field commander responsible for attacks in the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri. The arrests took place after Abu Osama, LeT commander of Jammu region, contacted them to deliver money to some cadre. They were also told to arrange for SIM cards, batteries and pencil cells, and deliver letters to other LeT field commanders and operatives.
The men have pleaded that they were forced to work for LeT after the organisation threatened to wipe out their families otherwise. But this is not an argument that will wash with any military or civilian court.
The two policemen, Sikander and Kabir, were arrested after a LeT module in the same district was busted, and police claimed they had been working for LeT for at least three years.
The arrests once again bring to the limelight the religious identity of the culprits (Islamic) and the religious dimension of the challenge India is facing both internally and externally. We would do well not to evade facing this reality, especially in the wake of Mumbai'sgrim tragedy. Already top intelligence sources have advised the government to investigate the possibility of deeper terrorist infiltration in the Army and go in for a thorough screening of the armed forces, and also of police and para-military forces. The sooner this is done, the better.
It is pertinent that the sheer scale of the Mumbai serial bomb blasts has compelled Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to admit what national security experts had always warned about?that terrorists have taken advantage of India'sfoolish open border policy. In recent years, a plethora of bus and train services have been launched in the areas that seceded from India in 1947, as part of an ill-conceived exercise named Confidence Building Measures (of whom?), to infiltrate terrorists into India from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Finally, it is admitted that 11 men who went missing during the Mohali cricket match in 2005 may have been terrorists, and may have had a link with the Mumbai blasts.
The Home Minister has been forced to admit in Parliament that terror tentacles encompass both border towns and the hinterland. The connecting thread in all this network of international and national terrorism is of course the pan-national religion called Islam. The inspiration comes from Al Qaeda, the money and weaponry from ISI and its Western sponsors who want to bleed India for their own ends, and the local Muslims provide manpower and logistical support, while our own pusillanimous Hindu politicians across party lines extend politico-strategic support by reigning in the local police at critical moments to cater to votebanks. It is a never-ending saga of a national sell-out.
The Mumbai bombings have brought the pigeons home to roost. Al Qaeda alone could not have carried out such a complex operation which set off seven time bombs in just eleven minutes, killing 208 and wounding around 800 persons. Security experts are unanimous that the bombings were a local job. Mumbai has thus ended India'sself-created illusion that India'sIslamic threat originates solely in Islamabad; rather, it has a powerful home-grown component. Indeed, Al Qaeda'sclaim that it has successfully formed a local chapter in Kashmir needs to be taken seriously.
If the UPA is serious about its affidavit to the Supreme Court, that there will be no reservations in India on religious-communal lines, it must disband the Sachar Committee without further ado and discourage collection of employment statistics in any sector on communal lines. To wait for Sachar to present a politically explosive and communally divisive report would be to play with fire.