Monday, October 29, 2007

Ludhiana blast an act of 'revenge'?

There are more reasons to believe, rather than disbelieve, that there is a Khalistani-ISI angle to the recent Ludhiana bomb blast. The ISI has been outsourcing many of its anti-Indian activities to Dhaka backed fundamentalist outfits. Off and on the Pak agency is also turning for help to some Indian outfits long patronised by it. So much so, the assignment of Shringar cinema blast to the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), a largely Pakistan-based terrorist group is in order.

With active help from the ISI, the BKI is believed to have acquired proficiency in making the kind of bomb that ripped through the Shringar cinema hall which was screening a Bhojpuri film. A Bhojpuri film in heartland of Punjab? Well, the state's farm lands are serviced by a large number of migrant workers from Bihar and eastern UP. And for them, a Bhojpuri film is a welcome diversion to the celluloid world of make believe. Many cinema halls across Punjab have stuck it rich with daily Bhojpuri offerings.

The Ludhiana bomb explosion looked like a copy of the two bomb explosions in Delhi at the Liberty and Satyam cinema halls in 2005. Ludhiana's Minerva cinema hall also was hit by a bomb explosion in 1995. BKI was the chief suspect in all these blasts.

After the Liberty cinema hall blast, the Delhi police recovered a cache of arms and explosives, unearthed finance and fake currency trails to Pakistan and discovered many sleeper cells in Punjab, all leading to the belief that there was a clear collusion between the ISI and the Khalistanis. The ISI was also found to have used Punjab, Jalandhar in particular, as one of its hubs for flooding India with fake currency notes.

Some people seem to think that the Ludhiana blast was only meant to scare away the migrant workers as the farming sector in Punjab is going through its own problems. Targeting them makes no sense because without these Biharis and east UPians Punjab will find it even more difficult to sustain farming.

Ludhiana blast could be an act of 'revenge' for the death sentence on one of the killers of the former chief minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. The sentence was awarded on July 7. If this indeed is the case, it confirms the belief that a clear attempt is being made to revive the Khalistani movement in Punjab.

Everybody in India knows that no matter what Islamabad says in public it has absolutely no intention of dismantling the considerable anti-Indian infrastructure operating from territories under its control in Kashmir and mainland Pakistan. That being the case, it was a mistake if anybody thought that the security forces and 'super cop' KPS Gill had effectively put down the separatist Khalistani movement by 1993. The Khalistanis were down but not out. Their main sources are intact - ISI in Pakistan and a few rich and influential pro-Khalistani NRIs in the UK and the US.

The Babbar Khalsa International group is the oldest of the Khalistani groups and also perhaps the most organised too. Its leader, Wadhawa Singh, continues to live and operate from Pakistan. Islamabad has stonewalled all efforts by India to get him back. Irrespective of the nature of rule in Pakistan-dictatorship or 'democracy'--men like him will never be extradited to India by the Pakistani rulers who thrive on overt and covert hatred and animus towards India.

Only a Pakistani leader 'foolish' enough to rewrite the fundamentals of his country's engagement with India would entertain the idea of sending back to India a man trained by the ISI so assiduously to create havoc in the 'enemy' country. Besides, the ISI can be assumed to have regained its 'freedom' to deal with India in the way it has done in the past-backing acts of subversion. Interestingly, the ISI chief has just been promoted to the most coveted job in Pakistan, the chief of army.

In order to deflect attention from the ISI, Pakistan has started dragging India's name in the tribal rebellion in its 'lawless' western provinces close to the Afghan border. At times, the shrieking spokesmen of Pakistan are petulant. If they are to be believed India committed a grave act of provocation by sending excursion teams to Kargil! Ditto, for a joint exercise by the Indian and British army in Ladakh. Neither activity is of recent origin.

Security analysts in India believe that under pressure from the ISI the BKI has become very active in the past six months in order to revive the Khalistani movement through propaganda in the West. Funds have generously flown from Pakistan even as the government there is engaged in its own battle of survival and feeling the heat from the fundamentalists groups.

Since the West has decided to wink at Pakistan's continuous support to militancy in Kashmir, Islamabad has had no trouble in maintaining its old ties with the separatists in both Kashmir and Punjab. ISI has been nurturing what is known as the K2 policy which seeks to have a common thread running between the Kashmiri and Khalistani militant groups so that India comes under that much more pressure.

The recent spate for troubles for the Pakistani president, Gen Parvez Musharraf, is said to have weakened his authority, which can only mean that in its relentless anti-Indian pursuit, the ISI will not receive any restraining instructions from whoever runs the government in the country. In any case, even when he was in 'absolute' control over the affairs of his country, Musharraf had only prevented the ISI-backed terrorist groups from launching big operations against India-like the attack on the Indian parliament. Reality is neither he nor anyone else in Pakistan is ready to give up the policy of 'bleeding' India, which essentially means killing innocent civilians on a regular basis.

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