- Digvijay Singh accused the Telangana police of posting content to radicalise Muslim youth through a fake ISIS site.
- Telangana's political establishment and the police force were quick to react.
- Unless Singh backs his charge with credible evidence, politically, Singh may have scored a self-goal
Is this Digvijay Singh's Batla House moment all over again? That was when he dubbed the September 2008 operation by Delhi police to kill two terrorists and arrest two accomplices, while losing a decorated officer, as fake.
This time, Digvijay's theatre of the allegation is Telangana. On the face of it, it seems a case of pulling down a highly motivated and sharp set of cops by looking at an extremely confidential undercover operation through the prism of religion.
Telangana Police has set up a bogus ISIS site which is radicalising Muslim Youths and encouraging them to become ISIS Modules.— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) May 1, 2017
On May Day morning, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh - in a series of tweets - accused the Telangana police of posting inflammatory content to radicalise Muslim youth through a fake ISIS site.
The issue is whether Telangana Police should be trapping Muslim Youths in becoming ISIS modules by posting inflammatory information?— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) May 1, 2017
The former Madhya Pradesh's chief minister's contention was that Muslim youth in India are lured to watch a bogus ISIS site, apparently run by the Telangana police's counter-intelligence cell, and through it, radicalised enough to join the ISIS module. Asking chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao if such a tactic is ethical and moral, Singh demanded to know if he had authorised his cops to trap Muslim youth.
Is It Ethical ? Is it Moral ? Has KCR authorised Telangana Police to trap Muslim Youths and encourage them to join ISIS ?— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) May 1, 2017
Telangana's political establishment and the police force were quick to react. KCR's son and IT minister KT Rama Rao called Digvijay's statement "irresponsible and reprehensible" and asked that he withdraw the comments or provide evidence. Police chief Anurag Sharma lamented that "unfounded allegations" of this kind will "lower the morale and image of police engaged in fighting anti-national forces". KCR's daughter, Nizamabad MP K Kavitha, called it "ridiculous and baseless".
Most irresponsible & reprehensible thing coming from a former CM. Request you to withdraw these comments unconditionally or provide evidence https://t.co/cg7p7Ym48X— KTR (@KTRTRS) May 1, 2017
While the Congress leader has not revealed more, the charges clearly put a question mark over recent acts of terror, insinuating they were indirectly the handiwork of the Telangana police. Because the youth, Singh believes, were radicalised by the state police. Security agencies in some countries are known to employ such methods.
Unfounded allegations from a senior responsible leader will lower the morale and image of Police engaged in fighting anti-national forces https://t.co/vzR8dfVldc— DGP TELANGANA POLICE (@TelanganaDGP) May 1, 2017
On March 7, a low-intensity IED explosion took place on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train, near Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh, injuring nine persons. An ISIS module was believed to be responsible for the attack. Within 24 hours, Mohammed Saifullah, an alleged Islamic State operative was killed in a shootout at a hideout in Lucknow.
Going by Singh's tweets, it seems he is alleging that Saifullah was a Muslim youth radicalised deliberately by Telangana police. It is for Digvijay Singh to present evidence to back his charges because it puts a question mark over the credibility and methods adopted by the state force while dealing with terror cases.
Singh was in Hyderabad until Monday morning and his tweets, which were put out just after Congress leaders bid goodbye to him, took everyone in Telangana Congress by surprise. Singh's critics charge him with shooting in the dark to create an atmosphere of doubt. The Uttar Pradesh police have on record admitted that the inputs from Telangana police were so precise that it helped them zero in on Saifullah's hideout. Sources also say 2-3 cops from Telangana police were in constant pursuit of this ISIS module and were in physical proximity to the group, ensuring almost real-time intel.
Sources familiar with police operations in sensitive cases point out that in intelligence gathering operations, different methods are adopted to be one step ahead of the terrorists or at least to keep pace. With hi-tech gadgetry used by terror groups, sleuths have to be street smart about how to keep track. Moles are frequently used as a tool to infiltrate terror outfits. Which is why, even if there is some semblance of truth to what Singh has alleged, those involved with the establishment believe it is absolutely foolhardy to blow the cover off the modus operandi of anti-terror operations and compromise the safety of these undercover sleuths.
But that is not exactly what Singh is alleging. He is accusing the Telangana cops of leading Muslim youth up the garden path and pushing them into ISIS, which is not quite the same as planting moles. Singh does not elaborate on what could be the political thinking behind it.
What could be Digvijay Singh's motivation in levelling this charge at this time? Most Telangana politicians believe it is an attempt to save his position as general secretary in charge of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Last week, he was stripped of the responsibility of handling Karnataka and Goa, after the embarrassment of the inability of the Congress to form the government in Panjim despite emerging as the single largest party. This when Digvijay Singh was present in the Goa capital, tasked with garnering the support of friendly parties to form a Congress government.
The knives have been out for Digvijay ever since and it was obvious Singh won't be King for long. But by taking on the Telangana government in this manner, Digvijay is perhaps trying to ensure he gets support from the Muslims in Telangana. It is possible some of them will lobby for him in Delhi.
The other reason could be to put the Telangana government on the back foot given that the KCR regime last month announced 12 per cent reservation for Muslims in jobs and education. The Congress fear could be that this would take the minorities away from the party and Singh may be attempting to drive a wedge between KCR and the Muslims of Telangana by sowing seeds of doubt.
Singh also knows that youth getting drawn towards ISIS is a worry for many Muslim parents in Hyderabad. In June last year, a module was busted in the Old city area and eleven people were taken into custody by the NIA.
This is not the first time Digvijay Singh has come out with a charge related to terror operations. Two years after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, he had asserted that he had spoken to State Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare hours before the city was rocked by the Pakistan-sponsored terror attack. Singh claimed Karkare told him he feared for his life from Hindu extremists and showed records of the telephone call he had made. While Karkare's widow rubbished Singh's claim, even the Congress distanced itself from its senior leader's charge.
Unless Singh backs his charge with credible evidence, politically, Singh may have scored a self-goal for his party. The field is now open to the BJP to charge the Congress with being pro-ISIS and soft on terror.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:34 PM IST