In matters of national security it is conceptually acknowledged that total Intelligence is difficult to come by on any threat, even fifty per cent of it is considered a professional success, which means that the threat is always far bigger and wider than what the available information would suggest and that in some cases the latter might just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. This is the context in which the plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reportedly unearthed during investigations into the involvement of Dalit activists of Maoist background in the riots at Bhima Koregaon in Pune last January, has to be further probed and pursued without loss of time. This country has witnessed planned killing of two prime ministers by terrorists not too long ago, in both cases indoctrinated killers embarked on a suicide mission. There is therefore no question of any ‘doubts’ or ‘politically motivated distraction’ being allowed to come in the way of an all out multi-agency effort to uncover various dimensions of this sinister plan and connectivities of elements at the root of it.
In a pre-dawn swoop on June 6 five pro-CPI Maoist activists were arrested by Pune Police for delivering hate speeches at a massive rally of Dalits that was organised by Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31 last year to mark the 200th anniversary of victory of Mahars serving the regiment of the British Army over Peshwas in a battle at Bhima Koregaon. This action was in pursuit of a case already registered in January under Sec 153(A) and other sections including conspiracy under Sec 120(B) IPC. The suspects included Surendra Gadling of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, Prof Shoma Sen of Nagpur University and Mahesh Raut of Bharat Jan Andolan - a member of prime minister's rural development project for Gadchirauli - who were all picked up from Nagpur – Sudhir Dawale Editor 'Vidrohi' who was rounded up from Mumbai and Rona Wilson Public Relations Secretary of CORPP (Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners) arrested from Delhi. According to media reports a letter of April 2017 was recovered in the raid on the Delhi residence of Rona Wilson, which mooted the idea of a planned attempt on the life of Prime Minister Modi being carried out whenever he would be on a roadshow during an election campaign.
The letter is part of a correspondence of Rona - signing as R - with one ‘Comrade Prakash’ on the progress of the struggle on the urban front. It gives details of interactions amongst several members named in the letter, which adds to the authenticity of the content and dwells on the sustained efforts that were being made for the release of Com. Saibaba. The letter refers to the requirement of Rs 8 crore for the annual supply of M4s with 400000 rounds for cadres. It terms ‘Hindu fascist rule of Modi’ as the prime concern, gives out that work for coordination with like-minded organisations, political parties and representatives of minorities across the country was going on and points out how the regime was bulldozing its way into the lives of indigenous adivasis – this last expression again making the content look genuine. The letter then shares the thought of doing something on the lines of ‘Rajiv Gandhi type incident’ adding that 'it sounds suicidal and there is a good chance that we might fail but the party PB/CC must deliberate'. It recommends that targeting Modi’s roadshow could be an effective strategy.
Many in the opposition have jumped to take a line that the letter was a cooked up claim of the Police - they have only shown up the depth of political degeneration that a desperate pursuit of power had landed them in, after 2014.
There is a clear trend in the country since the last Assembly election in Gujarat, of the opposition across the ideological divide whipping up a call for unity on an anti- Modi platform, instigating the Minorities by invoking the threat of Hindu fascism from the Modi regime and even going to the extent of blessing the extremism of the ultra-Left and Islamic terror in the process.
One of the opposition leaders obviously aspiring to be a Prime Ministerial candidate – in a situation where the formulation of a Federal front of regional parties is still highly speculative - has given his verdict that the letter recovered by the police was a contrived attempt to get prime minister Modi the benefit of a ‘sympathy’ vote. This leader is experienced enough to realise that the threat of an ‘assassination plot’ can swing the public opinion in favour of Modi but what is so regretful about this response is that all sense of public morality and political sagacity had been given up in making a motivated pronouncement in the midst of an investigation –which in this country is part of a judicial process.
The appearance of former president Pranab Mukherjee, a Congress veteran, on the national political scene might have accentuated the contest amongst the prime ministerial hopefuls. At the Nagpur rally of RSS Mukherjee while upholding the Sangh thesis that nationalism was above religion or language clearly drummed up the Congress script that claimed to be the exclusive repository of secularism, inclusiveness and the new-found slogan of ‘tolerance’.
Further, a supercilious plea against the genuineness of the revelation made in the recovered document is that the Maoists would have never used the self-implicating language of the kind contained in the letter. An underground outfit openly wedded to bringing down the government by violence exchanges communications through couriers. It is at the same time not bothered by the legal liability a chance disclosure of its intent ‘to kill the enemy’ would place on its leaders.
The dismissive response of the opposition to the reported threat to the life of the Prime Minister of the day is unbecoming of any responsible political rival. What is really troublesome for the average Indian is that in the run up to the next year's general election hatred against a democratically elected government headed by Narendra Modi is being unleashed with the intention of making it a point of convergence for all those who represented the opposition even when the contours of a political framework of unity among them otherwise, were not yet clear at all. In India politics of caste and community is a given but certainly the dividing line between a political campaign and advocacy of violence including assassination of the enemy cannot be allowed to be blurred. The investigation of Bhima Koregaon case should be pushed to its logical conclusion and intelligence contained in Rona Wilson's letter must be pursued for gathering evidence to be used in a court of law. Meanwhile, vigorous follow up action in the direction of making Prime Minister Modi's security fool proof in the light of the new conspiracy of hostile forces unravelled by the recoveries, is urgently required - it is a matter of great satisfaction that this is already underway at the highest levels of our national security set up.
(The writer is a former director of Intelligence Bureau)