At least two monks, a Burmese and a Tibetan, were injured in a coordinated terror attack, in and around the Mahabodhi Temple (the Temple of the Great Awakening, where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment) Complex at Bodh Gaya in the Gaya district of Bihar on July 7, 2013. The Bihar Police has confirmed that ten low-intensity serial blasts occurred between 5:30 and 5:58 am at and around the World Heritage site. Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confirmed, "Today I have the information of 10 blasts. A total of 13 bombs were placed there… Two persons have been injured— 50 year old Dorji and Bala Sanga (30)." Two live bombs were detected and defused at the Complex, while a third bomb was recovered near the Royal Residence hotel at Baiju Bigaha village, about four kilometres from the Mahabodhi Temple.
Examination of three unexploded bombs revealed that small LPG cylinders had been used as containers to pack explosives suspected to be a mix of ammonium nitrate, potassium and sulphur, and, according to the National Security Guard’s explosive experts, “it would be wrong to call the bombs crude”. Sources suggest that this is the first time gas cylinders have been used as containers for explosives. Investigators believe that the damage could have been far greater, but for the humid conditions currently prevailing in Gaya, which may have affected the explosive materials. Some instructions in Urdu were reportedly found along with the bombs recovered and defused in Bodh Gaya, including instruction to target Bara But (big statue) and 'bus', while another message declared that the operation was intended to avenge what had happened in Iraq.
The incident has provoked the usual speculative storm in the media, this time about the opening of a ‘new front’. Bihar has not witnessed any major Islamist terrorist attack in the past, and Buddhist sites across India have also remained exempt from such strikes. Again, the usual clamour about security and intelligence failures has also been raised. Fairly specific intelligence regarding an imminent threat to the Bodh Gaya site in particular, and Buddhist targets in general, particularly in the wake of the organized attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, had been communicated to the Bihar government. Despite these, rudimentary processes of access control and surveillance appear to have been ignored, even as the terrorists succeeded in planting at least four explosive devices within the core area of the shrine.
Rarely has precedent intelligence been as specific as it was in the case of the threat to Bodh Gaya. Most significantly, Indian Mujahiddeen (IM) operatives Syed Maqbool, Asad Khan, Langde Irfan Mustafa, Imran Khan and Syed Feroz aka Hamza — all arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in September-October 2012 — had revealed during interrogations in October 2012 that Dilsukhnagar in Hyderabad and Buddhist Temples in Bodh Gaya had been reconnoitred by them on instructions from Pakistan-based IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal. Crucially, twin blasts had been engineered in Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar on February 21, 2013, resulting in 17 killed and 117 injured, confirming the reliability of the disclosures. Other targets where the four had carried out reconnaissance included Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar; Mumbai’ McDonald restaurant at Andheri Station, shops near the Santa Cruz Station, the Dadar Bus Stop, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Panvel Station, as well as some areas in Bandra and Jogeshwari. All these are crowded public places which could be expected to yield significant mass casualties in the event of an attack.
All the reconnaissance operations were approved by the Bhatkal brothers, and sources indicate that a meeting for the Bodh Gaya survey was held in Hyderabad in 2012 at the house of Obaid-ur-Rehman, a key accused in the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts. Delhi’s Special Cell had sent an intelligence advisory in October 2012 to Bihar's Director General of Police and the Gaya Superintendent of Police, warning about a possible strike.
Significantly, again, during the a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team’s interrogation of the 26/11 Mumbai attack accused David Headley in the US in June 2010, Headley had claimed that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had prepared a video on the Mahabodhi Temple and was planning to trigger blasts there.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had also warned Bihar twice over the past three months that Bodh Gaya was on the hit list of terrorist groups, with sketches of two suspects sent just a fortnight before the attack. These reports had even been published in the media, specifically mentioning the targeting of Buddhist Temples in reaction to alleged atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Indeed, the threat to Bodh Gaya in particular, and to wider Buddhist targets in general, has been some time in existence. Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had tweeted, on June 14, 2013, "Indian government is working in cahoots with Burmese Government to wipe out Muslim population of Burma"; and again, "It is also an obligation on the whole Muslim Ummah to defend the rights and honour of Rohingya Muslims in Burma."
Even earlier, Ustad Farooq, the head of Al-Qaeda’s ‘preaching and media department’ for Pakistan, had warned, in September 2012, that the killings of Muslims in Myanmar and Assam “provide impetus for us to hasten our advance towards Delhi… I warn the Indian Government that after Kashmir, Gujarat… you may add Assam to the long list of your evil deeds.”
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has now issued an advisory to all states, asking them to beef up security at Buddhist shrines and Tibetan settlements, as these could be targeted by radical outfits "in the light of clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar in the recent months".
Radicalized Rohingyas have also established linkages with Islamist organizations and with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan. Intelligence sources indicate that, in recent months, both LeT and other groups have taken Rohingyas to Pakistan for training. Significantly, US, Bangladeshi and Singapore intelligence agencies have documented information on Rohingya Muslim radicals training at a LeT camp in Pakistan in May 2012. India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) had, in January 2013, indicated that LeT was trying to establish a toehold in Myanmar’s Arakan area, had created a group, the Difa-e-Musalman Arakan (Defence of Muslims in the Arakan), and was mobilising cadres to fight the Myanmar Government. The R&AW also underlined links between Rohingya radicals and groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) of Pakistan, and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen of Bangladesh. A new group called the Jamaat-ul-Arakan had also been formed, and was said to be running training camps in the remote Bandarban District of Bangladesh, adjoining Myanmar. The R&AW claimed that Rohingya radicals were receiving funds principally from Saudi Arabia, training from Pakistan-based operatives, and weapons sourced from Thailand. Crucially, the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) has tracked linkages between Rohingya Radicals and Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist formations in Bangladesh since 1999.
Again, while no major Islamist terrorist incident has been recorded in Bihar prior to the Bodh Gaya serial bombings, Islamist terrorist linkages with the State have a considerable history. On February11, 2013, for instance, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria disclosed, "While probing the Mumbai (July 13, 2011) and Pune serial blasts (Jangli Maharaj Road, August 1, 2012), we came across certain information. It’s now clear that Ahmed Zarar Siddibapa, alias Yasin Bhatkal, Tabrez, alias Danial, and Ahmed, alias Waqqas, also took part in last year's Pune explosion. While Tabrez and Waqqas planted the bombs, Bhatkal was part of the conspiracy. The fourth person in the wanted list is Tahseen Shaikh, a Bihar resident."
Further, media reports indicate, Fasih Mahmood, one of the founding members of IM, also belonged to Bihar. He was an active member of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and came in contact with the Bhatkal brothers while he was a student of an engineering college in Karnataka in 2000. By 2003, he had been recruited by Aamir Reza Khan, who was allegedly involved in the attack on the American Center at Kolkata and the kidnapping of the owner of a shoe company. The ransom money from the kidnapping was allegedly used by Mohammad Atta in the US 9/11 (2001) bombings. While the actual operations in Pune and Mumbai were carried out by operatives from Pune and Beed in Maharashtra, and from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, the responsibility for nationwide attacks had been vested in the "Bihar module", drawing cadres principally from Darbhanga, Samastipur, Nalanda and Munger.
According to media reports, of 14 IM operatives arrested in the recent past by various agencies, 13 are drawn from Bihar's Darbhanga District alone. Investigations by Delhi Police, which neutralized the Darbhanga module with half-a-dozen arrests in December 2011, and by the NIA, have revealed that IM's operations chief Ahmed Zara Siddibappa aka Yasin Bhatkal had been working on the Bihar module ever since the neutralization of the outfit's Maharashtra and Azamgarh modules in 2008.
Reports also indicate that several of these suspects were alleged to be responsible for the February 2010 German Bakery blast in Pune; the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bangalore (April 2010); the Jama Masjid firing in Delhi (September 2010); and the July 13, 2011 blasts in Mumbai. Before executing the 13/7 Mumbai blasts, Bhatkal and his associates, including Bihar's Asadullah Akhtar, reportedly stayed in a Darbhanga village for over a year and even tested their bombs in a mango orchard there. Both Akhtar and Bhatkal are absconding.
Bihar has emerged as a principal operational base for Islamist terrorists, as general policing is weak, law and order have suffered abiding neglect, and the preparatory activities and transit of terrorists are unlikely to invite Police attention in an environment afflicted by high levels of crime, a vibrant Maoist insurgency, and grossly limited enforcement capacities.
In the wake of the Gaya blasts, there has been much talk of ‘security breach’, and strident denials by various authorities in Bihar of any negligence. Ongoing investigations may shed some doubtful light on the specific failures that contributed to the success of the terrorist strike at the Mahabodhi Complex. However, it is the general security environment— if at all the pervasive state of insecurity can be described as such— in Bihar, and the abysmal state of the Police there that lie at the heart of failure. It is significant that Bihar has long had the lowest Police-population ratio in India, presently at 67 (as on December 31, 2012, according to National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB), as against a fairly dismal national average of 138. As regards other aspects of Police functioning, again, Bihar fares poorly on almost every index of competence and modernization— this is a poorly trained, poorly equipped, demoralized Police Force, operating in an enveloping environment of corruption. For a decade and a half, commencing 1990, regimes led, first, by Laloo Prasad Yadav and then by his wife Rabri Devi, actively undermined and destroyed every institution of enforcement and justice in the State. Since his tenure commenced in November 2005, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has succeeded in improving some indices of law and order management, but his exclusive reliance on a dubious ‘development model’ as a solution to all manifestations of political violence has compounded the neglect of the Police and enforcement apparatus. It is useful to note that Jharkhand, which was part of Bihar till November 2000, had a Police-population ratio of just 38 in 2002, when Bihar’s ratio was 69. While Jharkhand’s Police-population ratio had risen to 178 by end 2012, Bihar’s had actually fallen to 67.
Interminable post-mortems of each terrorist excess— of motives and actors and strategies and devices, and intelligence or security ‘failures’— will yield mountains of trivia, and a cacophony of opinions, but the most basic reality of a dysfunctional enforcement apparatus across India will ensure that such attacks will continue to occur. And next time around, the weather may not be as kind as it was at Bodh Gaya, and the explosive devices may actually secure their lethal potential.
Ajai Sahni is Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, ICM & SATP. Courtesy: the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Here is the reality of what is actually said inside the mosques when the kaffirs are not listening:
Here is the reality of what is actually said inside the mosques when the kaffirs are not listening:
The imams there are saying some serious shit.
I wonder if our imams are saying something similar, or the bribe that our SECULAR govt is giving them by paying their salaries for RELIGIOUS work from SECULAR FUNDS, is tampering their love for jehad and nailing the Kafir on the cross.
>> These websites are intended to hoodwink gullible Americans into believing that "Islam is a Religion of Peace"...
You are wrong again. You know so little. All you have is your hatred and your prejudices. Americans are not as gullible as you think they are. Just follow the religious section of the Huffington Post. You will learn a lot.
"If you read any of the prominent Muslim websites, you will find that what I said about the modern view of jihad is overwhelming supported by innumerable articles there" Anwaar
These websites are intended to hoodwink gullible Americans into believing that "Islam is a Religion of Peace" (although even those naive people have figured out the truth about Islam). There are a few Muslim groups like the Ahmadiyya who have given up jihadism, but they are considered to be apostates by mainstream Muslims who persecute them in places like Pakistan (and even the UK now!). Here is the reality of what is actually said inside the mosques when the kaffirs are not listening:
If jihad has genuinely been reinterpreted, the first step is for Muslims to express regret for the tens of millions of innocents in India and other countries who were slaughtered in the name of jihad and Islam, following the dictates of your "holy" book. Let me know when your websites do that and I will take you more seriously. Until then, don't bother peddling your nonsense here.
>> caught in this death-cult of Mohammad.
All professional hate pracharaks out to defame the religions of others while turning a blind eye to one's own religion, like yourself, are obnoxious liars and have the hidden agenda of vitiating a secular forum like this one in which people of different faiths freely interact with each other. If you read any of the prominent Muslim websites, you will find that what I said about the modern view of jihad is overwhelming supported by innumerable articles there, but why should you check such sites? All you will search for is what suits your hate prachar. There are equally obnoxious articles on Hindusim but if I post them here I shall bring myself down to your level.You guys truly belong in the gutter.
"Master Goebbels at work."
He's not in that league. He's just another fellow caught in this death-cult of Mohammad who cannot bring himself to acknowledge the savagery of his "holy" book and the barbarism of his "prophet" so he comforts himself by making up nonsense, and gets indignant when the rest of us laugh at his fiction.
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