Ranaghat atrocity part of ISI’s Operation Equal Blame (Sunday Guardian)
MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi | 21st Mar 2015
The Ranaghat atrocity, where a 72-year-old Catholic nun was violated by three young men, was carried out through an extremist organisation based in Khulna in Bangladesh, say analysts based within the territories of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The organisation "used recruits from two different faiths for the operation, and arranged their return to Bangladesh within hours of the atrocity", thereby making it problematic that the actual perpetrators would ever get apprehended. More disturbingly, these sources allege that a section of the local police in the vicinity of the seminary "was aware of the planned operation, and agreed to ensure safe passage" to the perpetrators. They, however, denied that any political party had a role to play in the heinous crime, which has traumatised the peaceful and progressive Christian community throughout India. "Elements in the local police ensured that the follow-up action (after the rape) was first delayed and then taken in such a fashion that evidence got destroyed" and that "even though the extremist youth shown on the CCTV cameras were moving around in the neighbourhood for six days before the assault, the local police failed to bring in residents of the area who could have identified them". They claim that after such a botch-up of the initial leads in the case, "only the usual suspects will get rounded up by the CBI, which is relying on the local police for assistance in solving a crime that the latter allowed to take place", and hence that "the actual planners and facilitators of the attack will escape".
The speedy finger-pointing over the Ranaghat atrocity has to be seen in the context of efforts by numerous international organisations to characterise the Narendra Modi-led NDA government as a fanatic band of majoritarians dedicated to the submission of the minorities to their will. GCC-based analysts say that since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power at the Centre on 26 May 2014, Pakistan's ISI has increased its budget by six times for "operation equal blame", designed to ensure that India and Pakistan share the same brackets on issues of human rights highlighted by the "international community" (the usual shorthand for NATO member-states). According to these GCC-based analysts, who track the activities in Bangladesh and Nepal of the ISI and its associated groups internationally, the organisation has since 2011 set up a budget to fund attacks on Christian organisations and priests in India, so as to ensure that the international media report India in the same way as they do Pakistan, a country where the Christian community has been discriminated against since the 1980s and where members of the community are routinely killed or converted through threats. Such activity has been sharply stepped up since the middle of last year.
"There is a perception that the ISI recruits only Muslims, when the fact is that in India, more than a third of active and dupe recruits (i.e. those unaware that they are working for the Pakistan-based espionage agency) are Hindus and even a few from other communities", an analyst based in an Abu Dhabi agency revealed, adding that "it does not take much money or persuasion to ensure that acts of violence get committed in a country where poverty is rife".
Over the past four years, the ISI has liaised through its associates with NGOs and individuals worldwide to "facilitate the preparation of reports which seek to show that India is a country where Christians and Muslims are grossly discriminated against", said a US-based analyst, who pointed out that the effort is to ensure that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) succeeds in lobbying the US government to place India in the same bracket as Pakistan when the Obama administration makes public its report on international religious freedom by end-April. NGOs such as Amnesty International have lately been bracketing India in the same category as Iraq and Nigeria, where the treatment of minorities is concerned, periodically briefing policymakers within the NATO bloc about events in India. In this context, it has relied on reports such as a "300 Days" report card of the Modi government, which claims that there have been 600 egregious attacks on minorities during this period, 450 against Muslims and the rest against Christians. What goes unmentioned is that much higher figures exist for attacks against Hindus in the same period, or that in previous 300-day periods when the UPA was in office, the figures were much higher. "From New York to Geneva to London, squads from the ISI have been active in ensuring that a stream of misinformation reaches policymakers about the situation in India", a process in which they have been aided by several well-intentioned individuals and groups who have jumped onto the "India is fascist" bandwagon being propelled by some politicians in India eager to discredit the Modi government.
When President Barack Obama visited India for the 26 January Republic Day parade, he flagged five concerns of his government: religious freedom, status of Dalits, slavery, violence against women and overall human rights. Not accidentally, an international campaign is now on to show that India is deficient on all five counts, with the US House of Representatives passing for the first time a resolution on the status of Dalits in India (HR 566, 113th Congress) in a context where the EU has since 2006 passed six resolutions against India on the same subject. Recently, a documentary by a filmmaker linked to an NGO, which sought to show India as a country where rape was commonplace (when the statistics show the country to be safer than the US or several of its European allies), was shown on the BBC. The NDA government's clumsy reaction of banning the filming in India ensured global publicity for the documentary, thereby playing into the hands of the traducers of India. Not surprisingly, there have been several high-profile screenings of the "banned" BBC documentary in various NATO capitals and metropolitan centres, in a context where the US House of Representatives on 6 March and the US Senate on 11 March discussed the subject of violence against women in India in very critical language, a precursor of condemnations to come on this and the subject of "slavery", i.e. child labour in India. Interestingly, a child labour campaigner in India has won last year's Nobel Peace Prize, joining a list of winners that includes Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger, but excludes Mahatma Gandhi.
Ominously, efforts are on by some NGOs and their patrons to ensure a mammoth march of farmers to Delhi in May, this time with a view towards ensuring physical clashes with law enforcement officials. Two earlier marches have taken place, the last a few days ago, on the issue of pollution in the Yamuna river. NGOs, trade unions and farmers organisations are meeting with political and other elements in order to launch a coordinated campaign against the Narendra Modi government in the coming weeks, both nationally as well as internationally.
All that can be said with certainty is that those who indulge in violence which could get interpreted as a hate crime, such as the recent attacks on Christian institutions across India, are playing to a tune which promotes the ISI's "operation equal blame", thereby assisting that organisation to succeed in portraying India in international fora as being as much of a serial abuser of the rights of the minorities as Pakistan, when the reality is very different.