12:20 am - Tuesday March 26, 2019

ISI Hand In Maoist- Naxal Attacks – Why Is Our Government Silent

ISI Hand in Maoist-Naxal Attacks
Why Indian Government is Mum ?
– Ram Kumar Ohri, IPS (Retd)
DANTEWADA ATTACKTime has come to question the studied silence of the Government of India about not waking up to the enormous evidence of linkages between the Maoist-Naxal insurgents and the Inter-Service Intelligence of Pakistan. Despite the rising tide of Maoist-Naxal attacks against India’s security forces, the worst of which was the infamous Dantewala massacre of 75 CRPF jawans on April 6, 2010, the Indian government has not shared either with the public, or with the ranks of Security forces, the untold story of the growing nexus between the ISI and the Maoists. Despite several instances confirming the mounting support of the ISI to the Maoists operating from the jungles and valleys of Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand, the Home Ministry appears quite reluctant to admit that the two sworn enemies of the Indian democracy are hand in glove in the strategic offensive unleashed by the ISI and Dawood Ibrahim against the Indian state in the heartland terrain of our motherland.

The well known strategic thinktank, Stratfor, had warned as early as 2009-2010 that the ISI of Pakistan was trying to forge an alliance with the Maoists in a bid to destabilize the Indian State from within. Ben West, a globally acknowledged tactical analyst, had written in a widely circulated article in 2010 that the “Indian Maoists, known as Naxalites, have been meeting with the outlawed Pakistan’s militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to the Director General of Police for India’s Chhatisgarh state”.1 It was further reported that at least two LeT operatives had attended a meeting of Naxalites sometime in April or May, 2010, at a secret location.2 naxal-strike_1104_630

The earliest proof of the dalliance of the ISI of Pakistan with Maoists can be traced to January, 2005, when in a fierce encounter with Chhatisgarh Police, the Station Officer of Police Station Ramchandra Pur (Balrampur district) was killed along with two Constables on January 8, 2005, by a detachment of well armed Maoists. The empties of nearly three hundred bullets fired by the Maoists were found at the site of encounter. Many empties had the markings of a Pakistani Ordnance factory, while some others had markings of production in the United Kingdom3 But most significant was the fact that several empties of the bullets fired by the Maoists were found to match with the empties recovered in New Delhi on December 13, 2001, after the notorious ISI-sponsored attack on the Indian Parliament. Unfortunately the important news fit for banner headlines, was published as a small item in The Asian Age, New Delhi, on January 11, 2005.

Even before the disclosure of the ISI- Maoist liaison by Stratfor in 2009-2010 about the formation of an axis between the ISI and the Indian Maoists and its elaborate publicisation by Wikileaks in 2012, the Intelligence Bureau had apprised the Home Ministry in October, 2009, about the growing links between the Maoists and the ISI.4 Their strategic intention was to establish a joint base in south India. A confidential report prepared by the Intelligence Bureau report in October, 2009, pointed out that in the previous year, nearly 500 Maoists had undergone “training under the SIMI in the Vagamon hills” on the Idduki-Kottayam border.5 Earlier when the central government renewed the ban on SIMI, the spokesperson of the central committee of the Maoists, late Raj Kumar alias Azad had pronounced that “this reiterates the government’s policy to continue its brutal war on Muslims”.5

It may be recalled that in October, 2010, two Muslim militants from Kerala were killed in Lolab mountains (Kashmir). They were believed to be part of a group of militants from Mallapuram in Kerala. It was further reported that a Kerala-based organizer of SIMI had visited Sopore to help the group in crossing over the border for training with Lashkar leaders.6

To many security experts and retired poilice officers it has remained a mystery that why this important chance discovery was not followed to its logical conclusion by our intelligence agencies ? Nor did it receive the much needed attention of the Ministry of Home Affairs. No one knows, why?

In November, 2010, Ben West of Stratfor had pointed out that the Maoist-Naxals insurgents had acquired a vast and diverse assortment of foreign weapons, including rifles of .315 bore to .30-06 calibre . While referring to an article in 2009 India Daily News it was stated in an e-mail that one zonal commander of the Naxal-Maoist combine had spent within six months more than $70,214 constituting three quarters of the Unit’s budget on procuring weapons and armaments, while another $20,604 was spent on supplies.7 It indicated that the Maoists were flush with funds remitted mostly from abroad through hawala channels.

In his widely circulated article, Ben West had categorically stated that the Pakistani intelligence wing had established business relationship with Naxalites to sell them arms and ammunition and wanted to use the Naxal bases for anti-India activities. He reiterated that there was evidence that the ISI was providing weapons to Naxalites in exchange for money or for other services rendered.

It was learnt that mostly the anti-Indian outfits like ULFA, or the ostensible Shailen Sarkar (a member of the Bangladesh Communist Party), were being used as conduits for smuggling of weapons and transfer of money. The Naxalite arsenal consists of weapons manufactured in Pakistan, China, Russia, the USA, besides lots of weapons of Indian make. A large number of weapons were imported, while many had been collected by the Maoists through surprise attacks on India’s para-military forces, including the C.R.P.F. In terms of logistics the ties between the ISI and Naxals (take them as suppliers and consumers, as suggested by Stratfor) could become a booming business for the arms trade of Dawood Ibrahim and the ISI which has the additional potential of extending the former’s criminal network in Asia. The huge arsenal of Naxals was further supplemented by the production of hundreds of weapons in factories operating in the interior of the Maoist-controlled territory.

According to the Global Intelligence files accessed and released by Wikileaks in March, 2012, a source of Stratfor working in India (name withheld due to security reasons) had informed the Stratfor thinktank by e-mail that the Pakistan-based jihadi terrorists and their footsoldiers in India were desperately trying to set up more sleeper-cells in the hinterland with the help of Naxalites. Among other things, the ISI moles embedded across India further claimed that the areas dominated by Naxals “have enough Muslim population which would serve both the parties as a recruiting ground…..” 8 A careful study of the Global Intelligence Files of Wikileaks reveals the contours of a jointly launched war by the ISI and the Maoist-Naxal combine to dismember India and ultimately overrun India. Frankly, it looks like a subtle plot to Islamicise the sub-continent by using the Maoists as a strategic tool.

This critical information has now been available for nearly 15 months in the Global Intelligence Files of Wikileaks. Nobody can pretend that the Indian Intelligence Bureau is not aware of the all out efforts of the ISI to radicalize Indian Muslims by using the vast resources of Maoist-Naxal outfits.

The Wikileaks files reveal that the Naxals wanted to learn some new tactics of unleashing terror against the Indian state from their new found ally, the ISI. In August 2010, Stratfor’s India-based sleuth wrote to Ben West that Dawood Ibrahim’s men (who were a part of the Karachi Project conspiracy) were trying to regroup. He further informed Ben West in his mail that “Maoists/Naxals are no saints at all, but a bunch of criminal opportunists (they are no Chechen militants).” 9

According to Wikileaks, the Stratfor sleuth in India wrote back to Ben West that some reports on the possible Islamist-Naxal linkages indicated that in future both of them intended to “act hand in hand.” 10

Far more revealing, however, was what Koteshwar Rao @ Kishenji, a well known Maoist leader, had told to correspondent Snigdhendu Bhattacharya of an Indian newspaper published in English language. Perhaps Snigdhendu Bhattacharya was a correspondent of The Hindustan Times at that time and the interview was given by Kishanji nearly four years ago in June, 2009. Kishenji claimed in his interview that Maoists had developed a strong base in eight or nine States of India. Interestingly Kishenji had reportedly emphasized that he did not support the manner in which during the 26 /11 Mumbai massacre the Lashkar commandos had attacked the Victoria Station ( i.e., Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, or CST) of Mumbai where “most of the victims were Muslims”.11 At the same time, Kishanji openly emphasized as early as June, 2009, that the Islamic upsurge in India should not be opposed as it is basically anti-U.S. and anti-imperialist in nature.

Among other things, Kishanji had forecast that in the coming years “Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa will be the new storm centres in Indian politics”.12 He further claimed that “our strongest base” was in Chhatisgarh. The
Maoist militia in the State was more than one lakh strong, boasted Kishenji. He had further elaborated that the Maoist-Naxal combine has the “wherewithal to put up teams of 400 – 500 fighters, encircle hundreds of police and para-military troops and wipe out them.”13 No one knows why the Home Ministry slept over this crucial warning given four years ago by Kishanji threatening to step up their offensive in three sensitive States across India’s heartland. And that negligence by someone somewhere was responsible for the Dantewala massacre of 75 CRPF Jawans in April, 2010, in an ambush.

Giving an overview of their future plans Kishenji disclosed that the Maoists propose to concentrate especially in U.P. because they need support of the Muslim population in that State and wanted to concentrate on the trade union sector, too. According to him the Punjab was already a fertile ground for a Maoist revolution.13

The arrest of a notorious Lashkar-e-Tayeba’s Nepal-based head, Mohammed Omer Madani, by Delhi police in 2009 further reconfirmed th support of the ISI to Maoist-Naxal insurgency. The Global Intelligence Files of Wikileaks copiously refer to the following instances of growing ties between the Maoists and Lashkar-e-Tayeba operatives working in India:
i ) Madani had been instrumental in recruiting Indian youth for jehadi
training in Pakistan. It was he who got Kamal Ahmed Ansari, an
accused in the 2006 serial train bombings, to Pakistan.
ii ) The puzzle about superb sophistication of the improvised devices used
by the Maoists was solved as a result of the seizure of literature
pertaining to the technical knowledge of IEDs being manufactured
and used by Pakistani Jihadis.

iii ) A sum of Rs. four lakhs (about $8,500) had been transferred to
Maoists.The intenton was to use the Maoists for carrying out to carry
out terrorist attacks. Two ISI moles, Altaf from Dakshina Kannada
district and VinayKumar from Hassan district of Karnataka were being
used for strengthening the links between the ISI and Maoists-Naxal

In August, 2010, the arrest of six members of the Dawood gang by Bangalore police brought out the fact that after dominating the Mumbai underworld for several decades the ‘D’ company was making inroads into the southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. They had been in touch with at least two top Naxal leaders Vinay and Deviah of Bangalore, and this was done at the behest of Dubai-based Chhota Shakeel’s aide, Altaf. Around the same time the Hyderabad police also recovered tickets to Dubai and passports for travel which were allegedly arranged by the Dawood gang by transferring money to the tune of Rs. twenty lakhs. This was a follow up of the arrests made in Bangalore by the Karnataka police.

During interrogation of Madani several diaries were seized by the police. A study of the diaries kept by Madani gave a clear idea of the plans being made by the ISI to dismember India through Naxalite insurgents. Interestingly Muhammad Omer Madani had carried out an extensive research into the organizational structure and functioning of the Naxals for exploiting them further for the ISI’s nefarious designs.14

The police were said to be investigating some financial transactions of Madani through a well known money-transfer agency. It was further learnt that Omer Madani had also been receiving huge consignments of fake currency to fund terror activities in India. It is learnt that the intelligencies agencies have many more details about the collaboration of the ISI with the Maoists and Naxals, but somehow the Home Ministry is reluctant to make the truth public. May be due to its vote-bank strategy, or likely adverse effect on the bogey called Indo-Pak détente, the ruling political dispensation wants this important news to be kept out of serious public discourse.

The frequent references in the exchanged e-mails to the Maoist-ISI plans for concentrating on using the Muslim population in sensitive areas for targeting the Indian state could also be a reason for the reluctance of central intelligence agencies to share the information with the Indian public and the security forces involved in a ‘do or die’ struggle with Maoist-Naxal insurgents.

It is time to understand from the public display of the formidable firepower and substantial trained manpower accumulated during last eight years by the insurgents that due to the solid support of the ISI they will not desist from incessant killings and destruction of infrastructure in future. The repetitive plainspeaking of Koteshwar Rao @ Kishanji to the Maoist-Naxal campaign for radicalizing the Indian Muslims, as elaborated in the Global Intelligence Files of Wikileaks, is a loud warning which must not be ignored. It is crystal clear that the expanding fire of the Maoist-Naxal movement engulfing nine States of India is now fully supported by the ISI – just as the pro-Khalistan movement in Punjab was propped up in 1980s and 1990s. For all practical purposes, the Maoist-Naxal insurgency has emerged yet another war of a thousand cuts about which the Pakistani dictators have been warning us so often and brazenly, too.

It is learnt that the Indian intelligence agencies have many more details of the collaboration of the ISI and some India-based Islamist outfits with the Maoists, but somehow the Home Ministry is reluctant to make the truth public. May be due to the compulsions of vote-bank politics, the ruling political dispensation wants this important news to be kept away from public discourse. According to a reliable source in an intelligence agency, in view of the fast approaching general elections, in the coming months the central government’s focus will remain on the right wing saffron terror story.

Unless the Indian government comes out clean with truth on the subject of the ISI-Maoist collaboration and decides to take the bull by horns, the Maoist-Naxal mayhem will continue to savage India. The situation has become more or less similar to what the ISI have been doing for decades in the Kashmir valley. Approximately eighty thousand policemen and security forces have been unsuccessfully fighting the well trained and heavily armed Maoist cadres across the Red Corridor. The massive attack on May 25, 2013, on the Parivartan Yatra organized by the Congress Party which resulted in 28 deaths should open the eyes of the myopic central government to the wide sweep of the Maoist menace. It is learnt that there is a huge demand of another 25- 30 battalions of para-military troops for strengthening the security operations. No one should think that the growing insurgency and reckless killings can be effectively curbed by mere recourse to idle talk about development of the area and its infrastructure by self-anointed intellectuals. The vast area controlled by the Maoist-Naxal cadres cannot be reclaimed without aggressively choking the supplies of arms and money being pumped in by the ISI and meeting the insurgency head on.

The politics of blaming the State governments for failure to prevent the depradations of Maoists backed by the ISI is a short sighted silly pastime which will do greater damage than good to our country. For example, can the central government ask the Farooq Abdullah government to single-handedly handle the Pak-supported militancy in Kashmir ?

References :
1. Ben West, ‘Pakistan and the Naxalite Movement in India’
Security Weekly, Stratfor Global Intelligence, www.stratfor.com/weekly/20101117_pakistan_and_naxalite-movement_india.
2. Ibid.
3. A news item, ‘Remnants of Pakistani and British arms found at Naxal attack’ The Asian Age, New Delhi, p. 5.
4. Maoist-SIMI tie-up to create base in South India: IB [Source: news.rediff.com/report/2009/oct/28/why-the-maoists-are-joining-hands-with-simi.htm?print=true]
5. Ibid,
6. Praveen Swami, ‘Terror trail links Kashmir with Kerala’, The Hindu, October, 2008

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