How Modi handled Ahmedabad Bomb Blast, prevented riots and went after terrorists and why its critical in 2014

2014 is an important year.  Those who have their eyes on the happenings in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan know that by the end of this year, we might be staring at a very enhanced level of security threat to India.

General Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistani army chief from 1988-1991, is credited with the concept of “Strategic Depth”.  What was this?  Rizwan Hussain’s book Pakistan and the emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan (Page 172) defines what were the central tenets of Aslam Beg’s “Strategic Doctrine”.

  • To achieve “strategic depth” against India. The concept of strategic depth was first articulated by army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg. This doctrine stressed the need for a dispersal of Pakistan’s military personnel and assets in Afghanistan well beyond the offensive capabilities of the Indian military. Pakistan’s geographical width was considered inadequate for a prolonged defence against India. In this context, post-Soviet Afghanistan was considered an ideal choice for Pakistan to gain strategic depth.
  • To support secessionist movements in India, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • To gain access to Central Asia in order to open that region for Pakistani economic penetration. Moreover, Pakistan could serve as the “gateway” to landlocked Central Asia for investment from the United States and other industrialised states. In this regard, a Pakistani controlled Afghanistan would enhance Pakistan’s geostrategic importance for United States.
  • To continue to pursue a strategy of nuclear ambivalence.
  • To enhance the existing strategic and military to military relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

One of central precept of this concept of “Strategic Depth” – and the final consequence – was to take over Afghanistan by Taliban and once it is totally under control, then send the war- ready but idle warriors to India for terrorist attacks.

Ever since Obama announced the withdrawal would happen in this year, Pakistan’s Jehadi forces have been doing different things to somehow save Taliban’s skin.  Somehow.  Through throwing in things like “talks with Good Taliban” etc, they have made sure that nothing really happened to core Taliban leadership.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan’s Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) won the elections in North West Frontier Province, which is adjoining Afghanistan.  An ideal launching pad, given the proximity of Imran Khan to Taliban, both in terms of relationship and ideologically.

US is somewhat worried about the situation post US withdrawal, and has since worked to mend its relationship with Iran.  Even in the pre-9-11 world, the ONLY counter to Taliban was “Northern Alliance” led by Ahmed Shah Masood.  He was funded by Iran and India primarily, apart from US and possibly even Russia.

With Indian presence already there in Afghanistan, and Iran’s presence to increase, there could be a counter force in Afghanistan to Taliban’s advance.  But unless the Afghanistan forces are really prepared, Taliban may end up conquering Afghanistan again.

Then, it will be “Operation India”, as the Strategic Depth doctrine of Aslam Beg is brought out of the attic.

Post 2014, therefore, expect terrible and sustained terrorist attacks of the type one hasn’t seen earlier, IF Taliban is allowed to settle in Afghanistan.

And, that is where the concept of Security of India in face of terror is critical in these elections of 2014.  Who amongst the fore-runners can handle the security paradigm of India?  Its a waste of time and words to discuss Rahul Gandhi.   Let’s talk of Modi first and then Arvind Kejriwal.

Modi and handling of the Terrorist attacks

No matter what you do, the chances are that if there are enough fanatic people, they will come and harm you.  Such attacks should not happen, first thing.  But if they do happen despite your best efforts, then you need to go after the culprits with a mission and get them from no matter where they hide.

many bomb blasts have occured in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Jaipur. None of the cases were solved. Why? because there was NO political will to do so. The Chief Ministers were either busy in horse trading or filling up their coffers. They were not concerned of their state.

The only case that was solved is that of Gujarat. Why? Because Modi and his establishment took it up as a major endeavor and a challenge. They made sure no riots occured, and even if they would have, the order to the 11 or so investigation teams was to ignore it and keep working. He gave to the investigating teams complete authority and full support – they had money, resources, people and also a chartered plane to pursue whatever they wanted.

The political leaders’ anxiety only heightened on reading the e-mail sent by the terrorists just moments before the blasts. The e-mail “in the Name of Allah” from Indian Mujahideen had challenged Modi and his police in its opening sentence itself.

It said, ‘Indian Mujahideen strike again! – Do whatever you can, within 5 minutes from now, feel the terror of Death!’

The clumsily worded e-mail was so blunt in its political message that Modi had no option but to pick up the gauntlet against terrorism. The e-mail became the motivating force for some senior police officers, too.

While provoking the Muslims of Gujarat it said, ‘Target these evil politicians and leaders of BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, who provoke the masses against you. Target and kill the wicked police force who were watching the “fun” of your bloodshed and who handed you to the rioting sinful culprits. Target their hired informers and spies even if they are the disloyal and betraying munafiqeen (hypocrites) of our Ummah. O Muslims of Gujarat!’

By midnight of July 26 the ruling political leadership sprang into action to make senior policemen understand that their investigations will get 100 per cent support, nothing less nothing more. They had at their disposal money, resources, manpower and even a chartered plane.

For almost 3 weeks the team members did not sleep. They worked round the clock to get to the bottom of the case.

 More than 11 teams were formed within the first few hours of the blasts. One team was asked to handle the investigations into the material used in the bombs. Another team was asked to investigate the use of bicycles. Another team was formed to thoroughly check all the phone calls made in Ahmedabad from certain areas just before and after the blasts. Another team was set up to reach out to all the police informers and gather their opinions on and information of the blasts. One team followed the cyber crime aspect of the case. The overall investigation of the case was assigned to the crime branch of Ahmedabad where more than 100 people started following whatever little leads that were available, from the midnight of July 26.

What has happened and what was uncovered is nothing short of amazing given those three weeks.

“From July 26 to August 16 (when the breakthrough was announced) none of us went home to sleep. Every morning at 7 we would all go home and return after a shower and in fresh clothes. We would sleep on our chairs in the daytime. We haven’t hit the bed yet,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhay Chudasama, who along with his boss Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia and Rakesh Asthana, police commissioner of Baroda, played an important role in detecting the conspiracy behind the bomb blasts.

The Gujarat police claims that, probably for the first time, the central Intelligence Bureau and it have worked on the terrorism case as complementary teams and produced some excellent results. Between July 27 and August 16, on many days the political leadership was briefed in the Ahmedabad circuit house at 4 am. That was the kind of frenzy displayed by the Gujarat police and the political leaders to get to the bottom of the terror case.

Chudasama claims that for the first three days they had no clue of the culprits behind the blasts, but more and more assuredly all of them started believing that it seemed to be the work of the banned SIMI.

The Gujarat police’s databank of SIMI members in Ahmedabad had some names including that of Zahid Sheikh. They picked him up and started interrogating him extensively.

“He is a fanatic. He is not a Gujarati, he is not an Indian. He claims he is merely a soldier of Islam. These accused don’t belong to even their own families,” said a source in the police.

“You will have to understand the identity of the perpetrators of the bomb blasts. Their “transnational” identity itself is an anti-national act,” says one of the interrogators.

Hectic interrogation was going on at two places, one of them being the crime branch office in Haveli area of Ahmedabad.

Here, Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia and his deputy Abhay Chudasama were working relentlessly to narrow down their search. In Baroda, under the supervision of Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana, independent investigations were going on. Asthana is a level-headed officer with 10 years of experience in the Central Bureau of Investigation. He shares the credit for investigating the fodder scam which tainted Lalu Prasad Yadav [Images].

As soon as the news came out that Baroda might have been used as a conduit by the conspirators, Asthana formed a special team of hardly four-five people. In Ahmedabad and Baroda the most important thing was to keep the investigations and its processes a secret. A news-hungry media was all the time “fooled” by leaking irrelevant stories and even sketches of the ‘accused’ were made only to “feed” the media.

It was of no use to the investigators whatsoever. In reality, they were going down a different path. Once the role of SIMI emerged, Asthana specially asked his department to get on board two Muslim police officers.

Since he is merely two months old in his current post, he got from the databank a file on SIMI activists living in Baroda. The blue file had a professionally prepared dossier on SIMI activists, and the opening page featured Usman Agarbattiwala complete with his photograph.

Asthana went through the accompanying details like Agarbattiwala’s telephone numbers, his work, background and the names of all his relatives that were in the dossier.

Immediately, details of Agarbattiwala’s telephone calls, both made and received, were procured. It took relentless work through day and night to make the chart of the most frequently made calls from his phone. They were then narrowed down and owners of those numbers were detected and, in turn, the printouts of those phone calls were procured. A professional hard work done with the help of computers in the police headquarters in Kothi area yielded fantastic results.

Asthana’s team created a cluster of cell phone movement among select persons. These movements were finally narrowed down to Agarbattiwala, Kayamuddin Kapadia, Imran Sheikh and Iqbal Sheikh. In no time Agarbattiwala, Imran and Iqbal were picked up. Along with others Joint Commissioner of Police Pravin Kumar Sinha and inspector Karimbhai Polra played an important role in Asthana’s team.

The first copy of the interrogation report was sent to the Ahmedabad team which was narrowing down on local SIMI activists including Zahid Sheikh. Agarbattiwala’s cracking proved very crucial. Bhatia and Chudasama cracked Zahid Sheikh as much as they could. In Baroda, Iqbal was a new entrant to SIMI ranks but some of the detainees were tough nuts to crack who had undergone special training to withstand police methods. On the basis of the early lead provided by the interrogations in Baroda and Ahmedabad, teams of Gujarat police travelled to Kerala [Images], Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh [Images], Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to collect a variety of documentary evidence.

By August 8-9, Modi knew his state police was just days away from success that has eluded the police in other Indian states wracked by terrorism.

Yes, the administration failed the residents in not preventing the attacks, but thankfully this administration did not wallow and start finger-pointing in its aftermath. It went into action from get go. Also, and importantly, it prevented any reactions and went about their work professionally.

Arvind Kejriwal – The Ostrich or a Jaichand?

As for Arvind Kejriwal, when he was asked about Terrorism emanating from Pakistan and how he intends to handle it, since he was going to fight Delhi’s elections, he simply called the interviewer “motivated” and walked off.

He also intends to fight for Lok Sabha elections.  Just as in the US, if you are fighting an election for the Senate seat, you BETTER get your facts right about the issues of National Interest or you will be hounded publicly.  You cannot simply say its not relevant.  Everyone who is fighting for the Lok Sabha seat is effectively throwing in his/her hat for the top PM seat.  We BETTER know what s/he thinks of the terror attacks and the security threat from Pakistan.  Walking away is NOT acceptable!  If you do, like Kejriwal did, then we need to assume that either you don’t care for the citizens of Delhi and India or you think the terrorists are doing a jolly good job, so why bother?




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