What Is The Real Motive Behind Intelligence Leaks On Rohingya Muslims?

In the immediate aftermath of a series of low intensity blasts at Maha Bodhi Temple Complex (MTC) in Bodh Gaya District last month that claimed among its two injured a Myanmarese Monk; ready speculative theories held Indian Mujaheddin (IM) responsible followed by Maoists.  Delhi police claimed in less than 13 hours of the incidence that they had alerted Intelligence Agencies and Bihar Police regarding the threat to MTC. Bihar police released sketches of “two IM suspects”. Bodh Gaya is also what is described in official parlance as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected district. Local police also arrested a “suspected Maoist” with Hindu name. Next day India’s foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai in his meeting with “Myanmar foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin in Naw Pyi Taw” assured him of sharing “probe details”. Speculation arose that Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s restive Rakhine district of Arakan province, that has witnessed Buddhists violence against the Muslim minority, are behind this “revenge attack”. Soon the blasts investigations were handed to National Investigation Agency (NIA), who in turn released two sketches of a suspect.
On 19 July India Today carried a report under sensational headline, IM spreads to Red Jharkhand: Maoists help terror outfit grow roots in the state. The florid headline carried a rather “tepid” story, which said that the fresh intelligence inputs accessed by Mail Today had a NIA source tell it what an arrested IM suspect allegedly told them about recruitment drive among Muslims of Jharkhand, and then the source (not the suspect) added “philosophically” that terror outfits remain in touch and share information. Since very little concrete progress seems to have been made in actual investigations as these several speculative theories contending with each other show, the latest leak in Hindustan Times too invites trust deficit. Not only that, certain contentions in it if true, should have remained secret and not leaked to the press as the consequences of it are dangerous and destabilizing. The Rohingya Muslim link has surfaced thanks to HT on both occasions.
The quantum of details leaked here, **“umbrella organization like Jamaat-ul-Arakan and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization are running terror training camps in remote areas of Bandarban district of Bangladesh adjoining the Myanmar border”, “Bangladeshi security agencies made a series of arrests that revealed plans to radicalize, train and fund some Rohingya refugees with the help of Pakistan based terror groups and Saudi Arabian financiers”, “visit to Arakan of Al Qaeda explosive expert Nur Bashar and the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s shura member, Mufti Abu Zarra ul Burmi”, “They also have an Indian connection. It was Abdul Karim Tunda, a Pilakhuwa (Ghaziabad )-born Lashkar commander who masterminded a series of bombing in North India in 1996-98”** are simply dazzling, and couldn’t have taken place without the blessings of appropriate intelligence agency, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and/or Research And Analysis Wing (RAW) or Senior officials of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Why are these leaks damaging to India’s interests?
Bangladesh Government has warmed up to India under the second Awami League Government led by Shaikh Hasina, the daughter of East Pakistan liberator, first prime minister, and assassinated leader Shaikh Mujibur Rehman. Several terrorist wanted in India like “Ranjan Daimary, chief of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)”, “top Lashkar operative of South India and self-styled commander of the terror outfit Thadiyantavida, Naseer and his brother-in-law Shahbas”, “Ulfa’s top leader Arabinda Rajkhowa, his wife and another key militant”, or “Dhaka is all set to hand over top ULFA leader Anup Chetia to India” have been either handed over already or are in the process of handover. Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to not allow use of its territory for anti-India elements, while allowing use of same territory to India to transport grains to remote north-east regions of Indian territory. India has failed Bangladesh though by not keeping its promises over Teesta Basin water sharing accord or implementing the exchange of border enclaves to straighten out the 4000 kilometer long but confusing (110 Indian and 52 Bangladeshi enclaves are in each other’s territory) boundary. Political temperature in Bangladesh is very high from early this year. Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal was constituted in 2009 to try war crimes blamed on Islamists, particularly Jamaat-e-Islami, who collaborated with the West Pakistani army in the genocidal mayhem of mass scale murders and rapes. Several top ranking leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami have been handed out death sentence this year. Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) has the support of the other major opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by Khaleda Zia, wife of a now dead army general. JeI and BNP have jointly sponsored many “bandhs” to paralyse life and government. Violent clashes these calls to paralyse life triggered turned particularly nasty in February and May this year killing scores of people, about 70 in February and much higher in May. CNN network was at the forefront of what looked to me a conspiracy to bring down Shaikh Hasina government. Situation was particularly worrisome for the stability of the government, which is favourably disposed towards India. Just 2 days ago, on 1st August, “Bangladesh’s biggest right-wing party Jamaat-e-Islami was banned from contesting future polls by a court here which cancelled its registration in a landmark ruling, leaving the once-most powerful fundamentalist party with an uncertain future”. Though the news is good to curb fundamentalist currents, how the “court ban” unfolds is a matter of concern. Shaikh Hasina’s government has been repeatedly attacked by fundamentalists for “collaborating” with “Hindu-India”. She has little concrete achievements to show for her “friendliness” to a giant neighbour. This is the precarious situation of the delicate relationship between the two neighbours, who have had a painful shared past. Moreover, alerted LeT, ISI, and extremist elements among Rohingya Muslims would be more alert, cautious, and alter their strategies. This would be set back to intelligence gathering. What would be the effect of these “hosed leaks” in HT at this juncture? One effect would be fundamentalists would go ballistic over Bangla help to India against Rohingya Muslims, the co-religionists of majority of Bangladeshis. Would this help the cause of Bangladesh, or even India? I see more harm than help coming through these “assisted leaks”.
Then there are other bits that raise serious questions on the competence and intentions of Intelligence Agencies. The news further tells, “An estimated 5,000 Rohingya refugees live around Delhi, with a particularly large number living in slums along Sona Road near Gurgaon… There are sizeable Rohingya populations in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and even Jammu and Kashmir. Rohingya refugees are often seen protesting in Delhi outside the United Nations Human Rights Commission asking for UN refugee status”. Obviously this information with intelligence agencies is not of recent vintage. The report is dated 2 August, and says “For the first time, senior government sources said, the presence of several thousand Rohingya refugees in India was discussed by senior Home Ministry, police and intelligence officials at the Independence Day security coordination meeting on Tuesday”. The last Tuesday before that was on 30th July. At another place it tells, “Indian antennae have been raised since LeT supremo Hafiz Saeed issued a statement on June 1 in Lahore accusing India of assisting the Myanmar regime in its persecution of the Rohingyas”. Now the point is if India’s security antennae were raised on 1st June by LeT supremo Hafiz Saeed’s reported statement, why did the intelligence and security apparatus sit on its haunches and did nothing for close to two months between 1st June and 30th July.
There is a still more damning indictment of intelligence community. Nearer to a year ago in August 2012 I had pointed out, “Security establishment in this country is often accused of intelligence failure. If a proof was needed, the current events have provided ample one. The heads of IB, RAW, and others have hell of a lot to answer; but would they be asked to account for their failures? It was exactly a month ago that a Pakistani – yes, no less than a Pakistani-  journalist and blogger, Faraz Ahmed, writing for Tribune- Pakistan brought out the role that *social media* was playing in vicious psychological operations. He brought out clearly how images/ photographs of events not even remotely connected with Rohingya-Muslims and Rakhine-Buddhist strife in Myanmar were being passed of as evidence of Rohingya-Muslims’ massacre”. The riots that took place at Azad Maidan then were in considerable measure fueled by these Psychological Operations launched on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Intelligence community and Security agencies should have been actively looking at the linkages between Rohingya Muslim issue in Myanmar and its fallout in India all these 11 months, and not wait for a statement from Hafeez Saeed on 1stJune to “raise antennae”. It is shameful to hear what Home Ministry is now planning to do, “But with the threat assessment of Rohingya refugees on the rise, the Indian home ministry is planning to order a census of refugees in India as a precautionary securitymove.”, which it should have been doing all the time since India became an independent nation.
The only “good” reason why this news story has possibly made appearance now is to showcase “flurry of intelligence activity” in the context of Ishrat Jahan Case (CBI-IB slugfest) and the MTC blasts. That the story is an “assisted endeavour” is pretty clear from so many “details” leaked. Its timing and revelations of help received from a friendly neighbour are most inopportune and a genuine threat to “national security”. This calls for in depth review and overhaul of how our intelligence agencies function, where “show of work” through media leaks seems to stump “substance of genuine productive work”. If this hurts, then both IB and RAW need to give convincing explanation of why they failed to avert 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
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