Saturday, August 18, 2012

POST-ASSAM INCIDENTS: OVERT & COVERT


B.RAMAN, Camp New Delhi

The post-Assam  incidents in the rest of India had overt and covert dimensions.
2. The overt dimension related to the protests by groups of Muslims against the anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and Assam which were seen in the Azad Maidan of Mumbai on August 5,2012, and in Lucknow on August 17,2012.These protests  were triggered off by exaggerated accounts of the anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and Assam. These exaggerated accounts were disseminated with the help of morphed images through web sites of Islamic fundamentalist organisations, some of them located in Pakistan. The fact that these organisations in Pakistan such as the Jamaat-e-Islami had them uploaded in their web sites does not necessarily mean they had produced them.
3.Some of the visuals uploaded in many web sites of different organisations had inter alia, morphed images of two incidents---- the large number of dead bodies recovered after an earth quake in the Sichuan province of China  some years ago and public protests by the opponents of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Bangkok in 2009.The appearance of  similar or same morphed images in several web sites across the region indicated a common source  of the production of these visuals. This common source has not so far been identified. All we have is the total number of web sites in Pakistan that had uploaded these visuals. These visuals definitely played a part in inflaming passions in Mumbai and Lucknow.
4.It was reported in sections of foreign media last week that President Thein Sein of Myanmar has brought these morphed images of unconnected incidents that had taken place outside Myanmar to the notice of the OIC delegation that was in Myanmar. He reportedly told the OIC delegation that a false impression of a genocide of the Rohingya Muslims of the Rakhine State of Myanmar was sought to be created  through the circulation and uploading of such images. We must get from Myanmar details of all the evidence that they have been able to collect in this regard.
5.Now, after the damage has been caused in Mumbai and Lucknow, we seem to have woken up and taken action for the blocking of the web sites in Pakistan which had uploaded these provocative visuals. Was it not possible to notice them before and do it? Since the Muslim-Buddhist violence broke out in the Rakhine State in May last, I have been closely monitoring it and had written a number of articles on it. In an article on August 9 before the recent incidents, I had also drawn attention to the dangers of the emergence of what I called a new epicenter of Muslim anger in the Myanmar-Bangladesh-Indian region due to the recent incidents in  the Rakhine State and Assam and reported feelings among the Muslim victims of these incidents that there was discrimination against them in the matter of distribution of humanitarian relief.  In this connection, please refer to my article dated August 9,2012, titled “Don’t Fuel The Fire” carried by Outlook Online at http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?281942 .Nobody seems to have paid attention to these developments and taken anticipatory action. However, these were controllable developments and our Police, after having been taken by surprise, was able to control the situation creditably.
6. The covert dimension related to the circulation of one or more SMS messages among residents from the North-East living in the South that they would be the targets of violence after the Ramadan fasting period concluded on August 20. There is so far no evidence to show that these SMS messages were incited or inspired or orchestrated from Pakistan. These appear to have been locally incited or inspired or orchestrated by unidentified elements in India.
7.While details are still lacking, certain unexplainable factors need to be highlighted:
( a ). The messages were disseminated more in the South and Pune than in the North, thereby creating more panic in the South and Pune than in the North.
(b).These messages appear to have been received only by people from the North-East living in the South and Pune and not by locals. If bulk messages had been used, this would not have been possible.
( c ). The person or persons who circulated these messages knew the identities of some people from the North-East and their telephone numbers.
(d). There were no references in the SMS messages to Assam or Myanmar. The connections appear to have been made by the people who received these messages in their mind, but these were not there in the messages.
( e ). The fact of the threat contained in these messages rapidly spread like prairie fire among the people from the North-East in the South and Pune and their relatives back home in Assam. This led to mental pressure on some of thm to go back to their homes.Some of the pressure was self-generated and some by their relatives in Assam.
8. It would be unfair to blame the police for being taken by surprise. They could not have known about the impending panic. What we saw in the South and Pune was the herd reflex. Once one member fled, many fled with him  or her without applying own mind. One cannot blame the people from the North-East either. That is the way you and I might have behaved when overtaken by fears which one does not know  whether true or not. One was reminded of the famous incident in Chennai during the second World War when a rumour that a Japanese submarine had been spotted led to the exodus of large sections of the city residents to their villages.
9. According to the media briefing given by the Home Secretary of the Government of India on August 18, the Karnataka police have identified seven suspects of whom three have been taken into custody for interrogation and one more has been identified by the central agencies independently. Better to await authentic details of their background and interrogation. ( 19-8-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India )






3 comments:

Manoj George said...

Dear Mr. B.Raman

I have deep respect for your work . However , I just wanted to inform you that your observation about the tribals of the North East describing themselves as INDIANS for the past 20 yrs is completely untrue. Most tribals especially MANIPURIS ( Meitis , Kukis) KHASIS,Nagas ( Tangkul, Aao) take immense pleasure in killing people who have settled in their states from other parts of India. It's because of such attacks that Indians ( mostly Hindus) have left the North East and migrated to other parts of INDIA. It's not without reason that band calls that coincide with Republic day & Independence day are so very successful across the North east.If you do not believe what I say please ask any Bihari, Marwari , Bengalis ( including Syletis ) , Punjabis ( Silhs & Hindus) who have settled in other parts of India but were initially born & raised in the North East.

Sincerely,
Manoj

peter g. said...

I agree with Manoj George as far as his observations regarding the attitude of the people of the North-East in general, exhibited towards outsiders. I have lived in that region for over four years and can recount a dozen incidents of unwarranted atrocities towards people of other regions.Especially the Nagas (all the 16 tribes) and the Mizos who call the outsiders "bloody Indian pigs" and worse. Their arrogance towards anything "Indian" is seen to be believed. Of course that does not mean that they should be hounded out of other parts of the country where they have come to make a living.it is their right. The majority of those leaving for their homes in the NE are not very educated and the herd mentality seems to have guided them

Suresh Mandan said...

I agree with the comments of Manoj and Peter,since I too have lived in Nagaland many years ago.Mr. Raman and many other security experts have been writing so much on these disturbing events but yet no notice is taken by the authorities concerned.We all are warriors on the net... the forces on the ground appear to be unaffected.