26.10.08

Are armymen involved in the bomb blasts?


Before we go any further, a warm welcome to Hindutva terrorism. Please note: I have used the term Hindutva, not Hindu.

Some of us have been saying that it existed long ago. Now the police are convinced that those behind the Malegaon blasts last month were rightwing. But, then, this is not news. Certain political parties and leaders are not unlike terrorists.

The latest reports have found two former armymen - a jawan and a retired major – to be involved in those blasts. I have one problem with the reason dished out:

The Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) is investigating the source of the RDX used in the blast and how the accused acquired the expertise to execute the blasts. “It’s not easy to procure RDX for a layman and use it to cause an explosion. One needs some training and it’s being investigated,” an officer said.

Why do you think this question has come up? We have had bomb blasts before and people are arrested on suspicion alone, even if they are young boys hawking vegetables. What is different this time that laymen are being protected?

I will tell you. This time the culprits are not ‘Islamic’ terrorists. This time the accused are from the saffron brigade. One of them happens to be a Sadhvi (she took sanyas in 2006) Pragya who was a member of the Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is not much different from SIMI.

Apparently, one of the army guys was quite enamoured of her. Reports do not tell us which one. Maybe the sadhvi is a democrat and would not like the hierarchical nature of her admirer to be mentioned. But, whether it was the jawan or the major, the guy is supposed to have been enraptured by her religious speeches.

I would think that since reports call her feisty, it must have been this aspect, or that she rode a motorcycle. Anyway, whatever floats his boat...

Come to think of it, how many of you recall that at the height of the BJP’s golden moments following the rath yatra of 1992 quite a few army personnel had joined the party?

I understand that even today many of the services personnel are right-wing. This surprises me at one level and not at all at another. It surprises me because the army is class conscious and that comes from what position you occupy; the bunker and the mess are great levellers. A friend from a well-placed family with some fancy lineage told me that as a junior officer straight out of college with not much by way of worldly etiquette, he had a rather embarrassing experience at the mess table. While using his cutlery he was making a bit of a noise. He was ticked off twice gently; the third time he was asked by the senior to walk around the room “to make him understand” table manners. It did not matter what his background was.

However, the right-wing affiliation does not surprise me because, like several intellectuals who get taken in by brainwashing that sounds rational, armymen too are victims of manufactured consent. This is easy for those who are taught to follow rule-books. The basis of the existence of an armed force is an opposition. The Opposition here is the enemy and due to reasons that history has left us with, it starts with Pakistan and ends with jihad, a term that neither those who call themselves jihadi nor those who pronounce them as such seem to understand.

Therefore, when the saffron parties go all out on their reclaiming of culture binge, it appeals to some soldiers, especially the part about ‘party discipline’! Besides, Hindutva has cannily called its movement nationalistic. How many armymen would want to be anything but that, as per the prevalent view?

To return to the current allegation, if indeed army people are involved then it is disturbing not only for the minorities but for the nation. As I said earlier, learning to assemble bombs and procure substances of destruction is not difficult anymore. But the moment former services people get involved we have to start rethinking about who is protecting whom.

We already have a situation where the police force often follows diktats issued by parochial forces in the respective states they are posted at. The role of cops during riots has been well-documented. We do not want a situation where the army too is under suspicion as an institution. And please do not dish out the ‘few bad eggs cannot give it a bad name’ line because I will turn around and ask you why the hell don’t you think that up when a few terrorists go on a rampage?

Why tarnish a whole community then? How would you feel if we now say that due to what has happened in the Malegaon blasts all Hindus are closet terrorists? How would you feel if we said that because some army fellows have been detained and may be involved the whole Indian Army is full of terrorists?

It is a sad moment, but it is such moments that lead to introspection.

Think about it, and smell the cognac, you jolly good fellows.

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Image: Sadhvi Pragya

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Click on label indian armed forces below for more on the subject.

18 comments:

  1. FV:

    The basis of the existence of an armed force is an opposition.

    Very brave of you to write this post.

    I hope the armour is ready for the attacks will come soon. It may take only a day or two to circulate by emails and websites among the militarymen and then it will be nothing but a torrent of abuse, vilifications and insinuations.

    It is indeed disturbing that army men are involved. But then, can the soldiers be insulated from the larger society. And while you do not use these words, army is still a vestige of feudalism and colonialism in this country. There were a few press reports recently that they use soldiers as personal servants -- Sahayaks or Batman [and the officers are Robin, I presume :)]. In that context, it shouldn't surprise us as to how the military in India is behaving.

    Did you see the fumbling BJP leaders on TV saying that a Terrorist has no religion. LOL :-) Who thought that poor venkaiah naidu and Naqvi and Ravi Shankars will have to say this -- Talk their walk.

    The only good thing is that it might get the debate on terrorism on an even keel -- away from religious connotations to a social/ law and order issue. And it might take some of the false protective sheen of the army...

    Once again, surprised to see you come out all guns blazing, especially as the army is concerned. Good luck when the return fusillade comes your way!

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  2. A myth had been circulating in the media that Hindus are peaceful beings and that terrorism was a forte of Islamists. The revelations in the Malegaon blasts have debunked those theories. Two army men were also supposedly involved in the blasts. Their expertise was used to cause blasts with RDX. It is no secret that Indian security forces have long been known to be communal. During riots, they have been known to side with the majority and opened fire on the minority community when other methods should have been used to quell the mobs. Even today, the police in any state has been communal. A friend of mine, a Muslim, works in the police. Once, when Pakistan won a cricket match, his Hindu colleague remarked, "Yaar, today you must be cooking biryani in your household." And people with such mentality are taking charge of law and order in this country.

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  3. FV,
    I have two thoughts on this, one Islam and Hinduism are going through low phase at almost real time, instead of highlighting how the "practices" of these religion benefit the comtemporary society, people are after rituals. I havent seen an Islamic Scholar talking about Zakaat to be accepted as alternative to Direct Taxes, if Shariah's financial practicezs were followed , we wouldnt have landed here in this economic slowdown which is purely driven by greed and mischief of the Wall street blue strip suit wearing Kellog MBA and his partner in crime are the oil rich shiekhs, they run the private equity market almost now... so they Preach but dont practice.
    Same is in Hinduism, we have been taken over by babas of all sorts on all TVs trying to teach me what is hinduism ....one of them is more visibly gay than Karan Johar and the other looks so much of a Sex starved child molester living on Viagra...no one picks up a 30 Rs Geeta and Read ....u pay for your Karma ....simple as that ,..that is why more westerners are after true hinduism and born hindus are after babas....they are not the authorised dealers of God ...damnit....we are living in the world of twisted religions but sense and sensibility will return ....I am sure ..

    Second point is terrorism's answer needs to have a political answer as well as military answer...no one seems to have solved terrorism other than Mr KPS Gill ...but ....not sure ...
    My personal view is if the dog bites a man you dont bite him ....just hold him by his balls .... :)

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  4. We hindus are hitting back dont compare your stupid jihadis.dont blame army becoz it belongs to hindu nation and will take Hindu revenge on your Islam jihad

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  5. India will have problems - a lot of them. The process has started and we can keep speculating who did it, but it won't end anytime soon.

    India, is a very confused country. It doesn't have any options open. It put all it's eggs in a single basket - the Friedman Chicago School open market globalization of USA which had been popular since 1999 after repeal of the Glass Steagal Act of 1934 and WTO which many countries adopted. This is Reaganomics coming to fruition.

    That entire notion is now a historical failure of monumental proportions. It needs a major re-think.

    We're back to protectionism and the Keynesian (Government market intervention) economy all over the world which revived countries after WW2 and created Asian Tigers.

    Nehru was right in his Fabian Socialism - import substitution, self-reliance, protectionism, developmentalism. That's what allowed India the basic groundwork to shift course to opening up to the global markets in 1992, but got carried away with globalization which was all founded on a false premise - that markets correct themselves.

    In fact, markets are inherently self-destabilizing. Government intervention is essential. It's been proven many times before, and now is just another occasion - though a very severe one.

    Indian mindset is just not capable of that rethink. It never hedged its bets in the first place.

    But I wish India the best, as I do Pakistan.

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  6. ... of-course the post below is in the context of the social consequences of singularly adopting such economic policies. Pakistan did the same and is witnessing the results.

    The clarification is just for ones who might wonder what does all this economic mubo jumbo got to do with bombs going off?

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  7. err .. post above. Sorry.

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  8. SO let me get this straight..one armyman is questioned and the army is a den of hindu fundamentalists...

    and yet every practitioner of the religion of peace who gets killed in combat with the security forces was innocent?

    Farzana Versey..sticking up for the jihadis since when coffee at the sea lounge was 40rs/cup.

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  9. PS:

    No armour...and it is Diwali, so the army guys are busy with firecrackers. Besides, there are some who agree with me...
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    Anon 1:

    "Once, when Pakistan won a cricket match, his Hindu colleague remarked, "Yaar, today you must be cooking biryani in your household." And people with such mentality are taking charge of law and order in this country."

    Biryani takes long to cook, especially a nice dumpukht one. Maybe uske moonh mein paani aa gaya hoga and he wanted a free lunch.

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    Manish:

    Agree with your Point 1 completely.

    Now your second point:

    "...no one seems to have solved terrorism other than Mr KPS Gill ...but ....not sure ..."

    Yes, not sure. He happened to be there at the right time. And Punjab was a different case altogether.

    "My personal view is if the dog bites a man you dont bite him ....just hold him by his balls .... :)"

    What will you do with the Sadhvi:)
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    Zeemax:

    You raise important points, and I understood half of them!

    "Nehru was right in his Fabian Socialism - import substitution, self-reliance, protectionism, developmentalism. That's what allowed India the basic groundwork to shift course to opening up to the global markets in 1992, but got carried away with globalization which was all founded on a false premise - that markets correct themselves."

    Agreed, we got carried away with globalisation. But Nehru's socialism was seeing an India through a different prism. The markets had to depend on self-reliance and recover from the colonial yoke. It was a hugely populist idea.

    Contrary to what you say, it was Lal Bahadur Shastri who set the tenor for what was to become liberalisation.

    However, I am not sure this can be completely related to bombs going off. Indirectly, India's cultural renaissance can be attributed to what you say, but there are deeper issues.

    But thanks for a different perspective.

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  10. Arjun:

    Read the post again.

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  11. FV,

    All other points are debatable. Yes, Lal Bahadur Shastri set the tenor for liberalization but passed away too early. He was a great man.

    I'll only comment on this:

    However, I am not sure this can be completely related to bombs going off.

    There's no ideological conflict in the world anywhere - none. They're all socioeconomic, just as these always have been throughout history.

    Regards

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  12. Armed forces personnel are not right wing. They may be to an extent, by their very nature and by their training- anti muslim. As a matter of fact, I disagree completely that their actions have ever been communal.

    The anti muslim outlook is perhaps unfortunate and probably as FV mentions, because the country's biggest threat happens to be largely islamic terrorism, and because Pakistan happens to be an Islamic country. This outlook is truly unfortunate.

    But before damning the forces, we have to realize firstly that the two armymen are as yet only "allegedly" involved in the Malegaon blasts. And even if their involvement is proven true(seems most likely), then if I'm not wrong, they are retired and therefore free to follow ideologies of their choice (I don't mean they can go around killing people.)

    Their choices in any case, are not a reflection of the ideologies of the majority of serving personnel. To set the record straight, personnel in the forces MAY NOT be political while in service. They may choose to follow politics of their sensibility only after they leave the services. And I have never come across any anomalies to this rule.

    I think the political disposition of the forces is really a non issue as there has not been one significant communal incidence in the armed forces that is worth mentioning. This has to do largely with the kind of military training imbibed to the officers, and also the general culture in the forces where diwali, Eid, Xmas, Pongal, holi, guru nanak's bday etc. are celebrated with equal gaiety and all events are compulsorily attended by all ranks irrespective of their religion. Its common practice in the army to make special provisions for muslim jawans who opt to observe the 40 days of ritual fasting.

    So really FV, your insinuation holds no merit and I don't think this issue is at all " disturbing" either for the minorities or for the nation.

    P.S. Cognac is not a common drink in the Indian Forces, and therefore probably not possible for the majority of the "jolly good fellows" to smell. Maybe Old Monk Rum in lieu?

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  13. Zeemax:

    If you agree that there is a concept of jihad and it is an ideology, then in what ways is it socio-economic?

    Regards!

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  14. Ronin:

    The threat is perceived because we need an opposition, an enemy. I agree that the actions of the army are not overtly communal, unlike the police force's, but it does not mean they, like folks outside the services, do not have distinct communal biases.

    I am not damning the forces; this was about the two people and that raises questions.

    You say, "And even if their involvement is proven true(seems most likely), then if I'm not wrong, they are retired and therefore free to follow ideologies of their choice (I don't mean they can go around killing people.)"

    True. But ideologies do not take birth all of a sudden; they must have some affiliation before...the issue is not just of going around killing people, but being part of the very crime they are supposed to fight - terrorism.

    They MAY NOT, as you say, be political while serving, but what they do later does reflect on them and where they come from. The fact is that the investigations are hinging on their expertise as opposed to that of laymen; I in fact pointed out that laymen can do their own RDX-ing these days...

    One does appreciate the secular nature of the army when it comes to celebrations of festivals etc (heck, even the GOI ordered a ceasefire so that militants could go about their Ramzan in peace!), but does it really impact at the deeper level?

    "So really FV, your insinuation holds no merit and I don't think this issue is at all " disturbing" either for the minorities or for the nation."

    Well...I am surprised you say this. Forget my insinuation and me. This issue of even retired army personnel being involved is disturbing. We may start asking questions about how arms are procured, how other sorts of training provided...

    "P.S. Cognac is not a common drink in the Indian Forces, and therefore probably not possible for the majority of the "jolly good fellows" to smell. Maybe Old Monk Rum in lieu?"

    Since you say the majority of the Indian Forces are pretty much okay, perhaps I was addressing the small segment that likes its after-dinner liqueur. And cognac alliterates better with coffee.

    Btw, Old Monk is a sturdy friend of the Commies, and I gather that armymen hope people are not Commies:)

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  15. FV,

    If you agree that there is a concept of jihad and it is an ideology, then in what ways is it socio-economic?

    Aah you fall into the same trap.

    The concept of Jihad is ALL about fighting socioeconomic injustice by all means, including life & property. It has nothing to do with what it is commonly perceived as spreading Islam through war.

    I have often asserted if Jihad was about spreading Islam through war, there wouldn't be any non-Muslims left in the sub-continent right now. Or even Spain for that matter.

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  16. Two people who are ex-army and allegedly involved in the Malegaon blasts DO NOT necessarily lead us to question whether the army is communal.That's my point.

    Yes, every person in the army must have an opinion, ideologies are formed and affiliations and biases exist, but they are not acted upon.
    Its the same as saying that a terrorist is Muslim so his religion HAS to do something with his ideology and violent disposition. A link is being formed between a religion and terrorism/support-to-terrorism because of a few rogue people which is absolutely unfair...and the same should not be done here..

    The forces and their personnel need to be commended for living in communal harmony while at the same time subscribing to their individual ideologies.

    While most of your writing is incisively accurate, I don't agree with your point of view here. I respect your intentions, but disagree with your conclusions.

    Involvement of retired army personnel in this case does not merit an investigation into the communal hues of the army and their implications. It will only do more harm than good by raking up something which really isn't an issue...

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  17. They were right-wing to begin with and joined the army to get the training.. theory

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  18. Ronin:

    The few rogue elements among civilians are not in charge of the safety of the nation or its reputation.

    I was not 'raking up something which really isn't an issue'. It is fine that you disagree and I am not too happy to tell you that now a serving Lt. Colonel is being questioned. :

    http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/oct/30male.htm
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    Anonymous:

    What a theory!

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