Monday, 27 October 2014 | Balbir Punj
As the Government of West Bengal is seen compromising security, the question for Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh is: How far will he tolerate the alarmingly rising threat to security in the entire region?
The trail of Burdwan blast looks like enveloping the Trinamool Congress like a python’s grip and squeezing the ruling coterie in West Bengal. Three weeks ago, a house owned by the West Bengal ruling party leader was rocked by a blast of a bomb in the making.
When the State police searched the place, a bomb in the making and a few other crumbs were all that were found. The persons who rented that house happened to be from Bangladesh, and what they were doing in that house got the media smelling around. Resultantly, more suspicious have come tumbling out.
The ruling party there seemed to be obfuscating issues and preventing a full-scale probe into the premises. The media revelations made it imperative that the Central agency dealing with terrorism, the National Investigation Agency, take over the probe.
Instead of welcoming such a move, the State’s Chief Minister and the TMC supremo sought to place all sorts of hurdles, quoting the Constitution and the law to prevent such intervention of a legal authority. The Centre had to act with your leave if possible, without it if necessary. The latter alternative got a National Security Guard contingent to enter the blast house.
What the NSG, led to the spot by a local boy, found was not only beyond description; it was a damning evidence of a long-standing Trinamool closing of the eye to jihadis making use of the TMC’s minority magnanimity to turn the place into a virtual factory to make bombs, grenades and other items, with some of them already dispatched to Bangladesh. Day by day the NIA probe exposed more and more the links to a host of jihadi elements both here and in the neighbouring nation.
That only confirmed what the Intelligence Bureau had told the Union Government, which New Delhi duly conveyed to Dhaka: The Islamic orthodoxy in Bangladesh under the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami was teaming up with some elements in that country’s Army to stage a military coupe to topple Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Government and install a pro-jihadi regime.
The India part of the conspiracy was to light bomb fires across this country and try to seize and hold as hostage an Indian leader of great political value. In Bangladesh, pro-Jamaat leaders who had collaborated with the Pakistani Army to terrorise and suppress Bangladeshi leaders in 1970 had all been put behind bars and the trial courts had given death sentences to many of them — though an appeal got them to a lesser sentence of life-terms.
The liberal elements supporting the Hasina Government had got her to return the Constitution to its primal commitment to equality of all religions, had begun demonstrations against this reduction in the sentence on thesejihadi leaders. The warning to the Dhaka Government from New Delhi was timely in this context.
But what happened in Burdwan focuses equally or more on the TMC’s role in the entire affair. The very first question that arises is: Why was the TMC Government trying to block the NIA investigation into the Burdwan blast? The vast amount of bombs, grenades and other items discovered by the NSG team in the very house that the State police had searched the previous day and did not find this incendiary treasure, is enough of an evidence to question the desultory nature of the State police’s search.
Normally this discrepancy between what the State police found and the NSG acting on behalf of NIA found at the same spot later could also be attributed to the State police’s inefficiency. But the fact that the TMC Government sought to block the NIA from getting into this search shifts the finger of suspicion to the TMC’s own role in it.
More evidence has since come in. In another location in a Government land just outside the district headquarters of Birbhum, the NIA has found a terrorist training centre run by the jihadis. After the Burdwan blastoff October 2, all the occupants except one ‘disappeared’.
From these houses, the NIA had seized computers, data cards, and documents related to jihadi teachings. The NIA has revealed that the land that belonged to the Government and had been given to tribals, had been illegally ‘sold’ to the three jihadi trainers, out of whom only one could be apprehended by the agency.
From the Burdwan house to the Birbhum land, everywhere, where the jihadis were training personnel, making bombs and storing them, there is a chain of connections with the TMC.
To be fair to the TMC and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, it is possible that all these house-owners and others in her party involved may not have come to her notice at all. And that the Islamist terror groups who misused these areas had got their real purpose in renting/buying these properties, hidden from the actual owners and the TMC cadres.
But this fig leaf falls to the ground when we examine the virulence with which the Chief Minister wanted to keep the NIA and the Union Government out of the probe. Considering Ms Banerjee’s role leading the movement against the Left Front regime — which itself was soft on the Islamist terror groups — and the Muslim orthodox clerics, she should have welcomed the NIA probe.
The TMC cadres are seen involved in facilitating terrorists activities. One does not know how many more Burdwan-like events are flourishing in West Bengal. We know that the Islamist and Muslim orthodox groups have shifted loyalty to the TMC ever since Ms Banerjee’s ascendence in West Bengal politics.
These events are indicators of the jihadi elements getting an upper hand in West Bengal politics, first with the Left Front and now with the TMC. Forget about the packaging and labels , the hard reality is all the ‘secular’ parties end up encouraging radical Islam in their relentless pursuit of Muslim votes.
Among events that strongly support these observations were the riots that shook Kolkata during the Left Front regime on the issue of some waste paper packages unloaded from a ship containing torn pages from the holy book of Islam. The most damning evidence of terror links is the finding of the police investigations into the Saradha chit fund scam.
The Sheikh Hasina Government has been cooperating with New Delhi in tracking down jihadi elements seeking refuge in her country. Its gesture of capturing and returning to India of many of the terror leaders from India, hiding in Bangladesh, is a shining example of a joint effort to curb terrorism.
But as the Government of West Bengal is seen compromising security, the question for Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh is: How far will he tolerate the alarmingly rising threat to security in the entire region?