New Delhi, June 11: Following the remarks perceived by a section of a particular religion as unsavory, a controversy has kicked up a diplomatic storm. Several Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia, Iran, Pakistan and others criticised the Government of India and called for stringent action against the BJP leaders who were accused of insulting the Prophet of a faith at a TV show.
India has taken a strong view of the statements issued by the 57 members strong Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Reacting to such an acerbic statement by the OIC, the Ministry of External Affairs has directed its Heads of Missions (HOMs) in these countries clarifying that the Indian government respected all the religions and the comments denigrating a religious personality, did not represent the government or the ruling BJP. Also, the government has already initiated appropriate action against those who made the uncharitable comments and the BJP as a political party, has also taken tough measures against the defaulters.
Significantly, the Heads of Mission posted in New Delhi have also been sensitised that vested quarters are against the prevailing cordial bilateral relations and are unnecessarily provoking and inciting sentiments to dent the already existing harmonious relations. It is also evident that Pakistan has been milking the issue to the hilt, using the OIC for targeting India to show the latter in a dim light. While India embarked on a vigorous damage control exercise, the terrorist outfit Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has threatened that it will carry out attacks in India in the backdrop of the controversial statements made by two leaders of the BJP. A statement purportedly issued by the AQIS has called for attacks in Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other places. Arising from the dormant state for quite some time, it would appear that this terrorist outfit wants to shake off its inertia and strike to remain in the limelight or at least make some noise to draw international attention.
Reverting to some of those countries who have charged India about the alleged insult on their Prophet, we need to point out that many of these countries have had a dismal record of intolerance and blasphemy against their own minority subjects. Saudi Arabia, for example, is notoriously known for oppressing its Shia minorities that reside in large numbers in its eastern provinces. Similarly, Pakistan has been malicious for its atrocities and attacks on the minorities for their poor record of blasphemy. Few months ago, a Sri Lankan business executive working in Pakistan was lynched to death on charges of blasphemy. On June 9, a Hindu temple in Karachi’s Orangi area was vandalised. The idols of deities at Shri Mari Maata Mandir in Karachi’s Korangi area were attacked. The temple is located in “J” area within the limits of the Korangi police station. The incident caused panic and fear among the Hindu community living in Karachi.
Sanjeev, a Hindu eyewitness, disclosed that six to eight individuals on motorcycles came and attacked the temple. It may be reiterated that temples belonging to the minority Hindu population in Pakistan are often the target of mob violence. In October, a historical temple located on the banks of the Indus River in Kotri was desecrated. This does not give any justification for Pakistan to point an accusing finger on happenings in India.
It must also be underlined that Malaysia which is making so much of hue and cry, has harboured acerbic anti-Hindu fanatic, Zakir Naik who had in the past made fun of several Hindu gods and goddesses. Does it behove Malaysia to criticise India, now?
Amidst these fast-growing developments aimed at exhibiting India in a negative perspective, it becomes imperative to step up vigil against communal elements within the country who are possibly drawing their traction from the extraneous forces operating from outside and trying to radicalise a section of the vulnerable lot. Such a design, albeit by a miniscule number of people, is less impactful, yet the religious fervours in its extremity, has the potential to inflict damage to peace and order.
Hence, all concerned agencies must pool in all its resources to thwart any plans of Al Qaeda to carry out any terrorist activity in the country. The latest Al Qaeda threat may be seen as a veiled or even as an empty warning, yet it should be taken very seriously.
We are currently witnessing regular encounters against the terrorists coming from across the borders abetting violet activity in Kashmir, targeting non-locals, and creating a sense of fear and insecurity. Such forces must be identified at the earliest and preventive action taken in time to maintain peace and tranquility.
Because of the high voltage of vigil being maintained by the Indian security agencies, they have been kept under check. However, the latest happenings may provide ammunition to the miscreants to cause disturbances. Intelligence agencies, in particular, need to step up their apparatus to garner doable intelligence and effectively neutralize all those hostile to Indian security interests. Mandarins of the South Block need to work overtime to mount a diplomatic offensive, combining caution with precision, to ensure India’s image abroad is kept intact and the security within, is also fool proof.
(Shantanu Mukharji is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal and exclusive to India Narrative)
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