The Indian media lost no time in naming last year’s Mumbai terror attack “26/11” or “India’s 9/11” – displaying unseemly pride in India’s enhanced “status” as a US ally and a target of global terror.
In contrast to such a sentiment, thousands of workers, agricultural labourers, young people and students marched to parliament in the Indian capital of Delhi on 12 December 2008, a fortnight after the Mumbai attack, with slogans and placards that told the Indian government to “stop importing terror and economic crisis from the US!”
Addressing the march, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said that “some sections of the media and politicians are trying to peddle dictatorship, army rule, war with Pakistan and partnership with the US as solutions for India’s security. Pakistan’s own experience is proof that this is a recipe for disaster. India’s ruling class – both the Congress and BJP parties – are hell-bent on shackling India to the globally hated US imperialist policies, and thus importing the US’s economic crisis as well as terrorism onto Indian soil.”
Since the Mumbai attack the Indian parliament has passed an amendment to its “Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act” that brings back almost all the draconian provisions that had led to the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) some years ago. Also a National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act has been passed in the same session of parliament, ostensibly to streamline the work of the state-based intelligence agencies that tended to work at cross-purposes.
One commentator suspects, in the establishment of the NIA, “a direct link with the strategic alliance sealed with the USA,” pointing out that the “FBI has actually been trying for the past two decades to open outposts in India”.
This suspicion might appear far-fetched, were it not strengthened by certain bizarre developments. Anita Udaiyya, a fisherwoman, is said to be an eyewitness to the landing of the terrorists on Mumbai’s shores. Said to have gone “missing” for a couple of days, she later claimed that she had been taken secretly to the US by the FBI for questioning. Though officials are rubbishing her claims, her statement has been vouched for by her neighbours. Whether or not her claims are true, the Indian authorities are not denying that the investigations into the Mumbai attack have virtually been taken over by the FBI.
In Indian ruling circles there is some anxiety about Barack Obama’s pronouncements on Kashmir (echoed more provocatively by the British foreign secretary David Miliband on his recent visit to India). While Indian rulers may be chary of a US-brokered Kashmir solution, they are nevertheless doing all they can to facilitate an increased US presence in the region.
The US has intensified its efforts to entangle India further in its military misadventures. Recently the Indian army chief even hinted that India ought to send troops to Afghanistan as a strategic counter to Pakistan, pointing out that India has already been providing “soft assistance” there. There was no reprimand by the Indian government for such irresponsible foreign policy statements.
George W Bush was asked in his farewell press conference if the moral authority of the US had not been dimmed by him. He replied that he might be hated among the “elite” (parts of Europe), but he was loved in less privileged parts of the world – like India. This claim was inspired, no doubt, by Indian PM Manmohan Singh’s gushing words on his last visit to the US; “Indian people deeply love you, Mr Bush.” At a time when even Obama had to admit in his inaugural speech that the credibility of the US is at an all-time low, it is indeed galling for Indians, with their legacy of resisting colonialism, to watch their ruling class lavish love on and lend legitimacy to the US’s most reviled representative.
The US electorate recently delivered a crushing verdict against the Bush regime; as parliamentary elections draw closer in India, it is to be hoped that Indians will deliver as decisive a blow to their rulers for the disastrous “strategic partnership” with US imperialism.
Kavita Krishnan is on the editorial board of Liberation, the monthly magazine of the CPI(ML)
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