Just when India is about to observe a two-minute silence in the remembrance of 166 people slayed by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, the killing of three people in a grenade attack on a Nirankari sect congregation in Rajasansi close to Amritsar has once again exposed the dastardly acts of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence-backed anti-India forces. Investigations carried out by the Punjab Police so far suggest that the grenade used by terrorists to attack the congregation was similar to the ones being manufactured by the Pakistan Army Ordnance factory. Undoubtedly, without Pakistan’s ISI or Army’s involvement, no grenade or ammunition can be obtained from that country’s ordinance factory. That means Pakistan’s quartet—terrorists, Islamic hardliners, ISI and Army—involved in perpetrating one of the monstrous attacks 10 years ago in Mumbai, is still active. Worse, these anti-India forces are trying to replicate Jammu and Kashmir-like terrorist attacks in Punjab.
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Such fear may not be wrong since the HG-84 grenade used by terrorists in Rajasansi was earlier recovered by the Punjab Police from a terror module present in the state. In June, the Punjab Police arrested two students from Jammu and Kashmir who were studying in a college in Jalandhar. They told their interrogators that they were trained by the terrorist outfit under the control of ISI. These students had also admitted that they had links with Zakir Musa, an Al Qaeda commander who wants to set up his base in Punjab. Musa had come to study BTech at a private engineering college in Mohali in 2010, but he left it in 2013 without passing the exams. Suspected to be behind attack the Nirankari congregation, Musa is said to have several contacts in Punjab.
Although probe is in the early stage, it is a fact that Pakistan has tried several times in the past to revive terrorism in Punjab. After Pakistan burnt its finger in Punjab where terrorism was mercilessly crushed in the 1990s, Islamabad took drugs’ route in India’s Northern state to harm the country’s interest by making youth drug addict. But since the past two years illegal drug consumption in Punjab has been on the decline, frustrated Pakistan is at its nastiest form: It wants to push J&K militants and the pro-Khalistani group into terrorism again.
Dhariwal-based Bikramjit Singh, who has been arrested by the police for the Rajasansi attack, is suspected to be an operative of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), while Avtar Singh, who is still absconding, is the son of Gurdial Singh who reportedly deserted the Indian Army after the 1984 Operation Blue Star. In the course of his interrogation by the NIA and the local police, Bikramjit Singh reportedly confessed that the terror attack was carried out in connivance with the ISI and the Pakistani establishment.
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The ongoing probe has further revealed that Gopal Singh Chawla, a pro-Khalistani group leader who is currently in Pakistan, has been plotting terrorism in Punjab for a long time. Security agencies have inputs on Chawla’s activities. They say the pro-Khalistani leader remain in touch with ISI and banned Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed. His inflammatory posts on social media have been a cause of concern for Indian security establishment. In the course of their investigations in the murder of eight RSS workers in Punjab in 2017, the NIA officials have stumbled upon some sensational discoveries on coming together of pro-Khalistani leaders, Pakistan-based terrorist groups the Pakistani establishment to resuscitate terrorism in Punjab. By doing so, Pakistan’s objective is to keep India burning. It is the only country in the world where terrorists are considered as tools to serve its strategic interests. It has been put in the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris based inter-governmental body which promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
A team of FATF officials, which visited Pakistan in August, expressed its unhappiness over Islamabad’s performance on terror financing. FATF officials feared that Pakistan-based non-profit orgnisations, brokerage houses, exchange companies donations of corporate houses and religious entities are still channeling their funds to Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hafiz Saeed-headed Jammat-ud-Dawa which is a front of terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and others. Warning has been served to Pakistan that it will have to face the toughest international scrutiny leading to accessing overseas funding, including remittances sent by Pakistani workers would be very difficult if it failed to stop terror financing.
Deep in economic problem, Pakistan, it seems, is not serious to listen to FATF warning as the country’s Army and the ISI fears that they will lose their tactical assets that terrorists are for them if monetary resources are choked. The Pakistani establishment knows it well that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and iron friend China will come to its rescue if international community through instruments like FATF tries to screw it up on the terrorism issue. Frustrated over Pakistan’s ineffective move in combating terrorism, US President Donald Trump has already suspended its $1.66 billion security assistance to Islamabad. Earlier, mincing no words against Pakistan, the US President said 9/11 mastermind and Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad under the protection of its military. “We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!” Trump wrote on his Twitter handle.
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Pakistan’s Army Generals might be laughing at the world’s lone superpower’s frustration. Given the situation at the United Nations Security Council where China is using its veto power to defeat any terrorism-related censure against Pakistan, these Generals might feel more encouraged to sponsor terrorism. Spurt in terrorism in India should be seen in this background. But the need of the hour is, India should understand that no terrorism sustains without the support from locals. Radicalisation of youth in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir or other parts of the country needs to be stopped at any cost.