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Attempt to Increase Pressure on Pakistan With Yet Another ‘Mastermind’ Arrest

Posted by yourpakistan on June 27, 2012

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The Indian authorities and Media are hailing the arrest of yet another alleged ‘mastermind’ of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Syed Zabiuddin Ansari (aka Abu Jundal), a 32 year old Indian national, born in Maharashtra and a former activist of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) has been arrested and extradited by the Saudi Arabian government at the request of Indian authorities. Upon landing at Delhi’s IGI airport, Ansari was taken into custody by the Indian police who say that he has already confessed to being involved in a number of terror incidents in India.

Homegrown Terror

The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) is an Islamic student organization that was formed in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in April 1977. The stated mission of SIMI is the ‘liberation of India’ from Western materialistic cultural influence and to convert its Muslim society to a Muslim code of conduct. This organization is alleged by many, including the Government of India, to be involved in terrorism.

Some analysts in the Indian Intelligence Bureau believe that SIMI also operates under the name of Indian Mujahideen, an outfit that has reportedly taken responsibility for the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts, Jaipur blasts and 2008 Delhi blasts.

It is important to note that many terrorist incidents over the last few years that were initially blamed on a nexus of SIMI, Indian Mujahideen, Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) later turned out to be the handiwork of serving Indian intelligence officers and Hindu nationalists.

Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit, an Indian military intelligence officer and a member of  Abhinav Bharat, (a shadowy right-wing Hindu terrorist outfit) has been found the chief architect of various terrorist attacks, including the Ajmer Dargah blast, the Samjhauta Express bombing in which around 70 Pakistani citizens were burnt alive on Indian soil, the 2008 Malegaon blasts, the Mecca Masjid bombing, among others.

According to documents released by WikiLeaks, Congress party’s general secretary Rahul Gandhi remarked to US Ambassador Timothy Roemer, at a luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of India at his residence in July 2009, that Hindu terrorism posed a ‘bigger threat’ to India than the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Each one of these attacks were blamed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistani intelligence by the Indian authorities and media, until the Mumbai Anti Terror Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare spoiled the game plan by implicating serving Indian army officers and Hindu extremists in these terror plots. Karkare, of course, was killed in suspicious circumstances within the opening hour of the 2008 Mumbai Siege, along with his team, thus putting the investigations into Hindu Terrorism on the back burner.

Hundreds of innocent Indian Muslims were arrested by Indian authorities in the aftermath of each of these attacks. Some have disappeared without trace, some released after years in captivity and in fragile mental and physical state, and others still languish in Indian jails. All of this despite new evidence, absolving Indian and Kashmiri groups of the blames.

Treatment of India’s Muslims at the hands of law enforcement authorities

An increasing number of India’s Muslims, disillusioned and in protest to the treatment of Muslims in India and the barbaric state terrorism in illegally occupied Kashmir, have joined groups such as the SIMI in recent years. Many others have escaped with their lives to other countries, often entering and staying there illegally.

Syed Zabiuddin Ansari is said to be on the run since 2006, after Indian police claimed to have intercepted two vehicles, one of which escaped while the other was stopped and three men were held with RDX and AK-47s. Ansari is said to have escaped in the second car.

Indian police has a controversial history with such encounters. Just a few months before Ansari’s alleged escape from the police, another Indian Muslim, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was traveling on a public bus with his wife, Kauser Bi, from Hyderabad to Sangli, Maharashtra. Late at night, the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of the Gujarat police stopped the bus and took them away. His wife wanted to stay with him, but was taken to a Disha farmhouse outside Ahmedabad instead.

Three days later, Sheikh was killed in a staged encounter on a highway at Vishala Circle near Ahmedabad.

The report filed in the Supreme Court by Geetha Johri of Gujarat police Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) quotes a number of witnesses and builds up a coherent narrative of the killing. The episode said:

“On November 26 at 4 am, … constable Ajay Parmar was asked to bring a Hero Honda motorcycle lying in the backyard of an ATS office here. Sohrabudin was also brought here. A sub-inspector of Rajasthan police rode the bike for a short distance and jumped off it. As it fell, Sohrabuddin was pulled out of the car and thrown on the road. Four police inspectors fired eight rounds from their service pistols. Vanzara then asked Parmar to take Sohrabuddin to the civil hospital.” –Geetha Johri report

Two days after Sheikh was killed, Kauser Bi was transferred to the Arhan farmhouse belonging to Rajendra Jirawala, whose brother was a BJP politician. She was then allegedly strangulated and cremated in Illol, the native village of deputy commissioner of police D G Vanzara. The killing of Kauser Bi was subsequently admitted by the Gujarat State attorneys in front of the Supreme Court.

The ‘encounter’ was hailed in the media and by the Indian law enforcement. Sohrabuddin was also accused of possessing the same weapons – AK47s and RDX.

Inquiries by the Indian supreme court and CBI in response to petitions by Sohrabuddin’s relatives exposed the encounter killing to be an orchestrated one.

According to the National Human Rights Commission of India, there were 440 cases of alleged fake encounters in the country during 2002-2007. Most of these happened in the states of Uttar Pradesh (231), Rajasthan (33), Maharashtra (31), Delhi (26), Andhra Pradesh (22) and Uttaranchal (19).

On the other hand, over 28,000 Indian Muslims have been arrested in recent years over alleged links to militant or terrorist outfits. The disproportionate number of Muslims in Indian jails is evident from a report by the Centre of Criminology and Justice at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which reported that in Maharashtra, Muslims account for 10.6% (2001 survey) of the general population, yet they comprise 32.4 % of the prison population” (the current prison population is 36%).

Yet another ‘Mastermind’ arrested?

We don’t know who Syed Zabiuddin Ansari is. What we know is whatever the Indian media have reported over the last couple of days after getting briefings from intelligence officials. He is apparently an Indian Muslim, disillusioned enough at the treatment of his fellow Muslims that he joined a suspected militant outfit, allegedly carried arms and explosives, and escaped at a police roadblock six years ago.

What is not in doubt at all, is that this arrest has provided India with yet another opportunity to increase diplomatic pressure on Pakistan over the terrorism support it allegedly provides to Indian militant groups. This strategy helps kill two birds with one stone; Maligning and internationally isolating Pakistan, and at the same time discrediting the serious legitimate grievances held by its 177 million strong Muslim population.

A similar attempt was made last month when Indian intelligence released images of three alleged Pakistani terrorists on the loose in India, planning terrorist attacks in Maharashtra and Gujrat. All three were found to be businessmen living in Lahore, Pakistan; leading to a lot of backtracking and humiliation for the Indian intelligence.

Even before that, India’s repeated requests to the Americans for extraditing yet more ‘Mumbai masterminds’ in David Colemen Headly and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, which continue to be rejected by the US authorities, seem to be in the same context. Any information allegedly extracted from these ‘masterminds’ and subsequently fed to the media by the Indian intelligence can go a long way in twisting Pakistan’s arm at a time when it is already under pressure from the US and NATO for continuing to block the ground supply routes in response to the massacre of her soldiers by US / NATO forces last year.

The route closure has hurt the US and NATO efforts in Afghanistan to the tune of over a US $100m a month, and sets back their plans to make strategic gains complete and a pull out within the given timetable possible. The US tone, not surprisingly, has changed since the route closure and pressure has been dramatically increased on Pakistan in the shape of various statements from high-ranking officials blaming Pakistan for the West’s failures in the war-torn Afghanistan. The Indian attempts to pressurize Pakistan at this stage can be taken in the same context as India seeks a greater military influence and presence on Pakistan’s Western flank – just as it had hoped when the Soviet withdrawal became imminent.


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