India, Pakistan, Ajit Doval, Muslims, RSS,Hindutva, Samjhota Express, BJP

On Friday, Swami Aseemanand a main accused in the Samjhauta Express bombings was granted bail despite the fact that he had confessed to the terror attack.The Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently decided to drop all terror related charges against the 2008 Malegaon blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur. The NIA has also diluted several serious charges against Army officer Shrikant Purohit who also was accused of committing acts of terror against the Indian minority Muslims, including the Samjhauta Express bombing in 2007 in which 68 people were killed.

These three were interrelated by their membership of the shadowy “Abhinav Bharat” group. The decision of the NIA with regards to the three individuals had been predicted by many observers within and outside India. They all point towards the BJP regime led by Narendar Damordas Modi, who shares the same ideology as Abhinav Bharat, the Hindu nationalist thought known as Hindutva.

Hindutva has manifested itself in the political, social and cultural domains of life in India but its most prominent manifestation has been in the sphere of militancy. Atrocities such as targeted riots, like the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002, assassinations like the gunning down of India’s founding father Mohandas Gandhi, and bombings like the Samjhauta Express blasts, among other forms of violence are signature moves of militant Hindutva.

Perpetrators of these atrocities have largely escaped the consequences of their actions despite overwhelming evidence in most cases. The most prominent example is that of the current Indian Prime Minister Modi. Asserted to be the main force behind the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom, which has been cited as genocide by human rights groups, Modi was given a clean chit in a similar pattern to the Malegaon & Samjhauta accused despite protests by investigators.

In India there are two narratives at play: the first is that of forces fighting to maintain secularism in India who acknowledge both the existence and the threat of Militant Hindutva while the second kind espoused by Hindutva forces claims all talks of Saffron terrorism as an “anti Hindu conspiracy”. This is why one finds different approaches to Saffron terror by the previous Congress government who took action against Saffron terror groups, as compared to the current BJP party, which lets them off scot-free. Targeting of innocent Muslims has continued even after certain clues about the hand of various Hindutva outfits behind the attacks were discovered. Innocent Muslims have been used as scapegoats by the state by blaming Muslim organizations,whose existence has been questioned by many Indian analysts, behind the bomb blasts instead of bringing the cadres of Hindutva brigade to justice. In this process the media, police and the state machinery all played an active role to manufacture the narrative, “all terrorists in India are Muslim”.

The official stance is biased against Indian Muslims and the entire community is in the crosshairs. Terror attacks and Muslims have become synonymous and this perception has become the norm. The ramifications of this witch hunt on Muslims are varied, deep and long lasting. All the while Hindutva groups strike from the shadows wreaking havoc across the country.

The reason for this apathy can also be discerned from the fact that there are no Muslims in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), though the IB has a limited presence. Political figures are also highly unhelpful often spouting the same rhetoric of “cross border terrorism” and “Islamic terrorists” and narrowing the scope and direction of investigations in the process. Hindutva outfits operate in silence, and use the cloak of culture to carry out their sinister designs. David Headley, Abhinav Bharat, the assassination of Hement Karkare and Advocate Shahid Azmi and the infiltration of Hindutva elements into state institutions such as the IB are major examples of their activities.

One should be cognizant of the fact that nationalist movements like Hindutva often have internal and external enemies. The Nazis has Jews as the former and Slavs as the latter. Hindutva targets minorities like Muslims, Christians, low caste Hindus and now Sikhs but its external ire is reserved for Pakistan. In Hindutva lore, Pakistan is presented as an evil entity that ripped apart Mother India and is a manifestation of the desires of Non Hindus within India.


Militant Hindutva is the oldest and most steadfast foe of Pakistan. It has been engaged in an all out war against the state of Pakistan. In fact the RSS was behind the first terrorist attack by a foreign group in Pakistan’s history. On 14th August 1948, in Karachi a powerful bomb exploded inside a tuition center in Shikarpur colony killing two men. Close investigation unearthed a deep plot. The two men killed were RSS Swayamsevaks and they had been building bombs in the house. Once the partition became a reality, the RSS cadres left behind in Sindh had two objectives. One was to facilitate evacuation of local Hindus to India and the other was to blow up government structures of the nascent state of Pakistan. For this purpose, a team of 21 men assembled in Shikarpur to use a tuition center for their murderous designs, which they legitimized as a sworn duty and retaliation for massacres of the partition. However, the premature explosion exposed the plot and the RSS cell had to be disbanded with all but one member escaping. That captured member was later on freed during a POW exchange in 1949 between India and Pakistan. A blast in Islamabad in September 2000 was claimed by the Hindu Sena Rashtriya Sangh Party which has since disbanded.

The threat of Hindutva against Pakistan has not diminished. Ajit Doval, the current National Security Advisor to the Indian minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is perceived to be a man with a mission. Similar to his boss, Doval is also a hero and legend of the Indian right wing. Doval was formerly the director of Intelligence Bureau, India 2004-2005, where he previously spent a decade as the head of its operations wing. He was the first police officer in India to be awarded the Kirti Chakra. He is an IPS officer from the 1968 batch of the Kerala cadre, and was actively involved in the Mizo uprising, Punjab conflict, and the Kashmir occupation.

Doval has openly admired the BJP for promoting “Indian-ness”. Doval has also emphasized cultural security over physical security as the core issue in a controversial approach to national security. He has also claimed that India’s national identity is under threat from dangers like “Bangladeshi demographic invasion” and “anti-national forces masquerading as human rights groups”. This rhetoric has been found mostly in Hindutva propaganda and this is a cause of concern for not only India, but the entire region that a person with such tendencies has been appointed to a highly sensitive position. It does not help that Doval was a part of the Vivekannada International Foundation, a think tank with deep ties to the main Hindutva engine of India, the RSS.

It has already been established that the main focus of Doval will be on Pakistan.  While recently Doval has been lauded for trying to build peace between Pakistan and India, his past records show that his intentions towards Pakistan have never been benign. As usual with the Indian establishment, Doval allots a majority of blame for militant activity on Pakistan. In response,  Doval has recommended drastic measures.

Time and again, Mr. Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. He defines it as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” He has abandoned conventional wars as “cost-ineffective and high-risk ventures.”  According to Doval, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.”

Yet despite the death and destruction rained down upon Pakistan by Hindutva militants, Islamabad has ignored their existence. Islamabad has focused entirely towards other matters; the transnational groups like Al Qaeda & TTP, ethno nationalist separatists in Baluchistan, sectarian terrorists like LeJ and Sipah-e-Muhammad , and militant wings of political parties such as that of  MQM. Militant Hindutva hasn’t even registered yet on the radar. While the concentration on internal threats is merited however the threat of Hindutva terrorism cannot be denied. The Samjhauta blasts were one of the largest attacks on Pakistani citizens abroad and the the Pakistani state has failed to play a constructive role in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Both Pakistani targets on Indian soil and the nation of Pakistan itself are under threat. The capture of Kulbhusan Yadev and the BJP led Indian government’s anti-Pakistani stance is a case in point. Within India itself, more extreme radicalization is manifested in the rebellions going on inside the Sangh Parivar as well as the rise of more extreme and brutal Hindutva outfits like Sanatan Sanstha and the Gau Rakshak movement. Sooner or later these outfits whose attention is currently directed towards inside India may as well turn towards Pakistan.

With the BJP in power, the campaign of Hindutva terror will come in the combination of both Violent Non State Actors and State sponsored terrorism. The latest guerilla attack on Uri will only exacerbate the situation. The heightened Pakistan bashing and the failure of the Modi regime to live on to its own hype will provoke more radicalization and terror attacks. It is imperative for Pakistan to start paying more focus to the threat of Saffron terrorists. It would be well to remember the following : Pakistan may not be at war with Hindutva, but Hindutva is at war with Pakistan.

Jawad Falak

Jawad Falak

is an M. Phil scholar in the discipline of International Relations at the NDU.

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