BJP's studied silence on terror links raises more questions on 'Intelligence Failure'

Even as a prominent newspaper took down a video on the BJP links of one of the Udaipur killers, several inconvenient questions on terrorists remain unanswered

BJP's studied silence on terror links raises more questions on 'Intelligence Failure'

Prakash Bhandari

Studied silence of the central government and the BJP about allegations that terrorists in Rajasthan and Jammu held in recent weeks had links to the ruling party’s IT Cell has heightened suspicion that something is seriously wrong because of repeated cases of ‘Intelligence Failure’.

It is hardly a state secret that all Muslim areas are under surveillance and that any number of informants are engaged to keep an eye on suspicious people, events and movement. But repeated terror attacks are raising questions about internal security measures taken by the Centre, which is obsessed with security.

Such suspicion had surfaced after the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019. Who helped terrorists plan and execute the attack and how did a car load of RDX reach Pulwama were some of the questions that have remained unanswered to this day.

Similar suspicion was raised when the government refused to prosecute DSP Davinder Singh of J&K Police, who was caught with wanted terrorists, arms and ammunition travelling in his own car. The NIA investigated the case and filed a chargesheet that ran into 3,500 pages. Singh was accused of waging war Rising concern over AltNews and Md Zubair The fact checking website is fighting intimidation by the State and attempts to stifle donations on which it survives against the country. But the J&K Lt. Governor decided not to prosecute him and only dismissed him from service. No trial was held and Singh has disappeared into the crowd without serving a prison term. But why? Nobody is ready to tell.

The evidence against the DSP was compelling. He apparently had a handler in the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, whose number he had saved as ‘Paki Bhai’. The NIA alleged that the DSP had been tasked with establishing contacts in the MEA to carry out subversive activities. He was accused of facilitating the movement of terrorists with arms and ammunition to Delhi, when he was caught by the police at Qazigund. Contemporary media reports quoted him exclaiming, ‘Khel bigaad diya’ and pleading with the police that he was acting on instruction.

Remarkably, Afzal Guru, who was hanged for escorting terrorists who attacked the Parliament House to the national capital, had also claimed that he had been instructed by security personnel to escort the terrorists whom he did not know.

In 2017, an NIA special court sentenced one Niranjan Hojai from Assam, who had links with the BJP, to life imprisonment for terrorism, informed Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera at a media briefing this week. He also pointed to one Dhruv Saxena, a member of BJP’s IT Cell, arrested in 2017 by the Madhya Pradesh ATS. Saxena had also flaunted his photographs with the MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Khera also named one Balram Singh, a member of the Bajrang Dal, arrested in 2019 for terror funding.

Khera also accused the BJP of giving ticket in J&K to a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Pakistani terrorist who India freed in March 2000. The current National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, who was then a senior official in the Intelligence Bureau, had flown with Azhar to Kandahar in Afghanistan to secure the release of passengers and crew on board IC-814 which was hijacked.

The two terrorists, including Talib Hussain Shah, who were caught by villagers in Jammu were plotting attacks on the Amarnath Yatra. A photograph of Talib Hussain with “someone resembling Union Home Minister Amit Shah” soon went viral but even 72 hours later, there was no word from the minister or the MHA on how, when and where the photograph was taken and how did the terrorist get so close to the Home Minister in case the photograph was genuine. Intelligence failure?

BJP’s strongman in Rajasthan Gulab Chand Kataria, however, did not deny that Mohammad Riaz had himself photographed with him. Riaz, who has been arrested along with Gaus Mohammad, had killed a tailor Kanhaiya Lal for allegedly supporting suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma who had made objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammad on TV. Kataria, however, denied knowing him and indeed any knowledge that Riaz had acted as his polling agent in 2018 or if he was actively involved with the BJP IT Cell.

While the NIA is once again investigating the Udaipur killing, there is scepticism about any real headway. This is because the family of the deceased tailor Kanhaiya Lal has claimed that they had no knowledge who had posted the text supportive of Nupur Sharma on Lal’s Facebook page. Lal himself had told Udaipur Police that one of his children might have mistakenly posted it. But both his sons have denied any knowledge of the social media post.

While the BJP has claimed that the terrorists were trying to infiltrate into the party to target its leaders—and that anybody could get photographed with BJP leaders at public events— some insiders have blamed the process followed by the party to increase its membership.

Anybody giving a missed call, they say, were made members without verification. But the claim does not sound convincing because of the reach of the BJP and RSS, their access to local police and intelligence agencies and the rigorous background check that they subject their members to.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to raise the issue when the North Zonal Council meets in Jaipur on July 9. The meeting to be chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be attended by chief ministers and Lt. Governors of eight states. The focus is likely to be on internal security.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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