By M D Nalapat
A WhatsApp message is being circulated, asking for ‘1 crore 21 lakh Muslims to come out on the roads (of Assam) on November 27 (to stop) harassment of (Bangladeshi) Muslims.’ The objective is to stop de-regularisation and possible deportation of several million illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
Pakistan’s ISI, through a “Major Shafiq”, has from February this year tasked its India-based units with ensuring that “Assam 2019 catches fire the way Kashmir did from 1989”. They have begun work on this objective by establishing contact and coordinating strategies with associate groups within the state, especially from Rohingyas and illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam and Bengal. The Myanmar headquarters of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which is an affiliate of Al Qaeda, is engaged with the same mission and is active in involving the Rohingya in India, as is the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami Arakan (HUJI-K). The plan is to provide recruits for clandestine entry into India from Myanmar and Bangladesh, who will be expected to carry out the actions ordered by the ISI and Al Qaeda in Assam. These measures are designed to (i) create a communal holocaust in parts of Assam that would drive out the majority community from those locations, and (ii) ensure safe zones for Rohingya and other extremists in Bengal. Interestingly, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Amir of Al Qaeda, had specifically mentioned Assam in a 55-minute video released in 2014. This marked the start of their drive to spark extreme radicalisation of significant numbers of people in that state from within the pool of Bangladeshi migrants. Similar radicalisation is being carried out in Bengal as well, a state where Wahhabism in the violently exclusivist form manifested in Kashmir is a developing threat, which seems thus far to have been downplayed by Writers Building. In Myanmar itself, both Ataulla and Abdus Burmi, the Emirs (chiefs) of ARSA and HUJI-K, respectively, have close working links with Pakistan army-linked Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), as well as with elements of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh, where its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) is active in assisting extremists, together with other India-based groups and even political parties.
Apart from Myanmar and Bangladesh, another recruitment zone for Rohingya recruits by extremist organisations tasked with later waging non-conventional war in parts of India, is Indonesia, a country that has opened its doors to the Rohingya from Myanmar. Both the United States and the European Union (EU) are urging India to do likewise, even though they themselves have shut the door on such immigrants, despite their chatter about “Rohingya rights”. Interestingly, the Indonesian authorities have been either unable or unwilling to put in check extremist organisations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which is openly calling for armed volunteers to go to armed war against the authorities in Myanmar, so as to carve out an “Islamic Emirate” or Rohingyastan out of substantial parts of that country. In India, both in Bengal and Assam, the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) has been quietly setting up units since 2011, and it has been estimated that well over 18,000 (eighteen thousand) cadres have been recruited out of illegal Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrant pools in these two states.
The Wahhabi International has worked hard at ensuring that the US, the UK, France and other NATO powers support the Rohingya cause. These countries are ignoring the decades of insurgency that Myanmar has endured from separatists. The danger is that such facilitation could ignite waves of fresh recruitment to militant organisations the same way as took place in the 1980s as a consequence of the US empowerment of religious fanatics to battle the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR. In their usual thoughtless manner, the larger NATO member-states are willy-nilly at risk of replicating the chaos of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria in Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, through their high-decibel support for those generating religious fervour through selective presentation of the situation facing the Rohingyas. Thus far, India has not (openly at least) warned against such destabilising efforts by the NATO powers to implant fanatics into countries not their own. Such silence in the face of policy errors that could have a grave future impact is reminiscent of the silence of New Delhi at Moscow’s subduing of Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and the 1960s, as also the lack of official blowback to the USSR’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Since 2015, substantial amounts of cash from Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabi-friendly locations (that include cities in Canada, the UK and Germany) are flowing, mostly through hawala channels, to NGOs in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia and other countries to fund marches and protests demanding free entry for the Rohingya into these countries.
Operation “Kashmir 1989 in Assam 2019” is assisted by the ease with which the Rohingya, as well as others from Bangladesh can infiltrate the state. Four districts (Dhubri, Cachar, Karimganj and South Salmara) share a border with Bangladesh. Because of delay in fencing the borders of Tripura and Meghalaya, despite a security alert in both locations, these two states have also witnessed a large influx of migrants from Bangladesh, including several Rohingya. Since al-Zawahiri’s call, efforts by Wahhabi organisations to poison the communal atmosphere in parts of eastern India, so that it approximates the situation in Kashmir (where members of a particular community have almost entirely been driven out), have been unceasing. An example is a WhatsApp message asking for “1 crore 21 lakh Muslims to come out on the roads (of Assam) on November 27 (to stop) harassment of (Bangladeshi) Muslims. If we do not unite in time we will all have to die like in Myanmar. Come with your father and mother onto the roads.” The objective of such rants is to stop a planned de-regularisation and possible deportation of several million illegal Bangladeshi migrants. These are at risk of being outed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The call of groups sympathetic to radical elements is to not only allow free migration from Bangladesh into India, but ensure that an estimated six-million-plus illegal migrants now resident in Assam (and countless others in Bengal) be given full rights and papers of Indian citizenship. A few organisations are in the lead in organising such moves. Across the state, inflammatory material is being distributed that warn of an imaginary plan by Central and state authorities to “lynch and murder members of the minority community”.
Fortunately, in India, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are modern and moderate, and therefore refuse to respond to incendiary calls to action by groups that subscribe to the Wahhabi doctrine of exclusivism through violence. Muslims in India are overall wedded to moderate doctrines such as the Barelvi and have not given way to Wahhabism the way it has been the case in Pakistan, and to a lesser extent in Bangladesh and Indonesia as well. However, funding from Wahhabis outside the country has resulted in several theological institutions and educational establishments getting set up in Bengal and Assam, where credulous students sometimes believe in the exclusivist teachings fed to them by teachers with links to extremist ideologies. The good news is that both Bengal and Assam have a tradition of tolerance and mutual respect, hence it is proving to be difficult for the ISI to recruit enough fanatic cadre so as to carry out its plans for eastern India. However, because of the plans put into operation by the ISI, an atmosphere of fear, panic and hatred is being sought to be created by organisations linked to Al Qaeda and its associates (including the ISI, which sheltered Osama bin Laden and still does Ayman al Zawahiri).
Despite the threat of inciting mobs of illegal migrants in their hundreds of thousands, the state government in Assam is on track to carry out a scientific assessment designed to locate illegal migrants, who have bribed or tricked their way (through false and forged papers) into Assam. Although Indian citizens have nothing to fear from the ongoing preparation of a National Register of Citizens in Assam, increasing efforts are being made by the ISI and its auxiliaries that are designed to mislead them into joining agitations sponsored by external interests. The proposed mass manifestation on 27 November is regarded by such entities as a dress rehearsal for launching an operation designed to turn selected parts of Assam in 2019 into what Kashmir was allowed to become from 1989 onwards. Hopefully, the ISI-Al Qaeda operation will end in failure, rather than convert Assam into the cauldron that the Pakistan army made parts of Kashmir for many decades.