Much against the prevalent global perception, religious extremism has risen sharply in India, the world’s largest secular democracy. Despite his murky past and a travel ban imposed by Washington for stoking 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujrat, Modi was voted to power by an overwhelming majority in Hindu dominated India. His gruesome role in the mass slaughter of Muslims is now long forgotten by the U.S, the self-proclaimed champion of human rights worldwide. Indian PM’s close links to extreme Hindu nationalist organization RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the ideological off shoot of BJP, are no secret. RSS doctrinal philosophy is based on fascism which seeks to purge minority Muslims in India and repudiates two nation theory; the raison d’etre of Pakistan.
Indian scholars are never tired of claiming that New Delhi has a pacifist strategic culture that abhors interference, violence and rejects war as ‘consummate evil’. History however tells us differently. At the dawn of independence, the states of Goa, Hyderabad and Junagarh were usurped. In January 1971, India hatched the infamous hijacking of Ganga. This was followed by strong support of insurgency and application of military instrument against Pakistan in present day Bangladesh. When it comes to intimidating or subjugating small states, India has again shown no compunctions. It intervened in Maldives; perpetually backed LTTE in Sri-Lanka and in 1983 had all the intent to interfere in Mauritius. The February 2007 incident of Samjhota express is now almost conclusively proven to have been the handiwork of Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu extremist leader, with active backing from officials of the Indian military.
Today, riding high on its new found relationship with Washington and President Obama’s recent visit, Modi’s government is working overtime to isolate Pakistan internationally. To that end, India is living up to its reputation; inventing dramatic incidents in furtherance of political agenda. The chief architect behind diffusion of Hindu extremism and machinations against Pakistan is none other than Indian National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, the former head of IB.
On the night of December 31, 2014, Indian navy alleged that the crew of a Pakistani fishing boat blew up and sank their own vessel to evade capture by the Indian coast guards. The boat, it claimed, laden with explosives was intercepted 365 km off Porbandar on Gujrat coast in the Arabian Sea. The Indian defence ministry spokesperson asserted that the boat stopped after the coast guard fired shots but the four-man crew had by then set it on fire, triggering a major explosion and sinking the trawler. “Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and persons on board could not be saved or recovered,” the spokesperson added.
While strongly refuting the claim, Pakistan’s Foreign office denied any boat from Keti Bunder port of the country’s Sindh Province had sailed, as purported by India. Officials termed Indian allegation as sheer propaganda to tarnish the image of Pakistan. Those who perished in the boat carried with them vital evidence to substantiate Indian claims. It evoked memory of 2008 Mumbai attacks wherein Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Mumbai anti terrorist squad present on the scene and previously investigating Indian state-sponsored terrorism activities, was eliminated by the Indian establishment the same day as attacks occurred.
This time around however the ancient Hindu mantra ‘satyamevjayate’, ‘truth alone triumphs’ became effectively true. The recent statement of DIG Indian coastguard BK Loshali that “he ordered the boat to be blown off” has exposed political chicanery. A nefarious claim has boomeranged.
The latest incident comes in the wake of a report by the India’s parliamentary committee that roundly criticises Indian navy. “There have been long delays and cost overruns in almost all acquisition activities…these time and cost overruns in almost all the projects is a major cause of concern”, states the report. To add to this miserable plight has been a spurt of incidents involving several key Indian naval vessels. Eleven (11) consequential accidents since August 2013 resulted in 22 deaths. There were on board explosions and sinking of submarines, massive fires on large vessels including one on aircraft carrier ‘Viraat’ besides ships running aground. As a consequence Admiral DK Joshi, the Indian naval chief, had to step down in February last. He cited a “dysfunctional and inefficient” operating environment in the navy, as reason behind his resignation.
For a country laying singular claim on Indian Ocean yet unable to preserve its own backyard what could be more desirable than to fabricate incident which tosses its name to the international stage, and diverts domestic attention from ongoing catastrophes. And since the stage managed incident brings into spotlight the only regional country that stands between India and its blue water ambitions; makes it even more promising. Indeed an imaginative way to salvage the sinking pride of Indian navy-the principal instrument through which India desires to accomplish its strategic goals in the Indian ocean.
For peace to prevail, India must review internal policy while its strategic ally, the United States needs to adopt an even handed approach in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Any other course will not only jeopardize Pakistan’s success achieved in combatting militancy but is likely to engender further instability, much to the detriment of the regional security.