The demonetisation drive has hit terrorist organisations with large money caches lying waste, even though some may be laundered white money through the illegal money exchange racket, some glimpses of which are on electronic media. But there would plenty frustration, which may be vented through sabotage and terrorist acts. So, more violence should be expected. It would also be good if capacity building in local police is examined to provide succor during disasters like what has happened to the Patna-Indore train. In the instant case, visuals of local police standing around awaiting arrival of NDRF teams and the Army is not reassuring. This could well be part of training and equipping for civil defence-cum-disaster relief incorporating the public and NGOs. Delhi police is ready with its team of ‘plain clothes officers’ consisting farmers, homemakers, self-employed individuals, jhuggi dwellers, social workers, retired officials, students, advocates and army veterans (total 264 people including 49 women) – enrolled under the ‘police mitra’ scheme for prevention of crime, maintenance of law and order, and communal harmony. Good initiative, but why not pan-India when we needed the ‘billion-eyes-on-the-ground’ concept a decade back, being sixth on the global terrorist index?
Demonetisation has brought relative peace to Jammu and Kashmir, for whatever period of time, because the separatists are unable to pay daily stone-pelting wages to their ‘street gangs’. Yet the number of schools burnt or ransacked keep going up – 34th school targeted yesterday over past 100 days, even as ceasefire violations by Pakistan continue unabated. The police in Jammu and Kashmir have recovered not only fake Rs 100 notes but also machines owned by local criminal gangs for printing fake currency. But if Rs 100 notes too are being faked, then these could also be used for stone pelting, even if the number of ‘employees’ reduces. Besides, payments received via hawala are generally never traced, as per police officials. Significantly, production of fake Indian currency in Pakistan is in government mints. No matter which paper or ink is used in the new Re 2000 and 500 notes, these being faked by Pakistan at a future date can hardly be ruled out. Chinese assistance to Pakistan in faking our new currency notes can also be taken for granted, being within ambit of the Chinese concept of 'unrestricted warfare’. As for the Maoists, they will regain wealth though extortion, looting and poppy cultivation in due course of time.
NIA reports of 2013 revealed that Kashmiri terrorist groups had received US$ 100 million for terror operations in past two years, over the past 10 years, some Rs 600 crores were diverted to J&K terrorism from within India, Rs 98 crores were diverted in one single year from the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Fund, and that the Jammu and Kashmir Affectees Relief Trust (JKART) has been facilitating Pakistani infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, goods sent through trucks to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) were intentionally overpriced two-three times in the vouchers and additional money received was diverted for terrorist operations. It is unthinkable that Jammu and Kashmir politicians did not get share from the pie. Under the NIA Act, the NIA can take over any case related to terror suo motu except in Jammu and Kashmir where it needs the state government’s permission before it can start any investigation. Last year, Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra had suggested that the Ranbir Penal Code be brought under the NIA Act, but whether this has been implemented is not known. So, terrorist funding in Jammu and Kashmir apparently is easier than balance India, even though transactions of some Rs 38 crores from 17 accounts in four banks of South Kashmir were under NIA scanner in August this year for suspected terror links.
Demonetisation has hit political parties too, though the general belief is that big fish will remain untouched beyond some financial penalties, not targeting them personally through early prosecution and exemplary message to the rank and file. Then, it is not only the low-level politicians who are dependent on Maoists and radical support but there are also politicians of various hues that have links with inimical organisations. According to veteran RAW officers, politicians of various hues are under ISI blackmail having used hawala which is handled by ‘D’ company – franchisee of ISI. Some actions by these individuals have been obvious but they continue to flourish because of political clout and vote bank politics. As in the case of terrorist organisations, demonetisation having hit black money stocks of political parties too may result in venting anger through violence. India has been witness to criminalisation of politics, as also the perpetrators getting away completely or lightly.
Finally is the question of foreign funding of political parties that have been ‘legalised’, which cannot be without adverse fallouts, coming with a price tag. What portion of this comes from our adversaries via third party is also difficult to establish. Such funding would aim for a certain type of government in India, depending on the individual / group / national interests of those providing the finances. Some may want a strong India, but most may not. When the string of IEDs blew up at the pre-general election rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Patna (IED under the dais he was speaking from luckily did not fire), can you really pinpoint who wanted him assassinated – Maoists, radicals, another political party or those furnishing election funds from abroad? For that matter, a cross-section is wondering whether the chaotic manner in which the demonetisation scheme is being executed (no matter perception building through media) is by design to show the prime minister in poor light.
The bottom-line is that while euphoria over terrorist funding being hit by demonetisation is justified, we need to go into the roots within the country – for black money, terrorist funding and endemic corruption. Modi has the best of intentions but the system needs a major ‘top-down’ overhaul, not to forget we have the worst bureaucracy in Asia past 20 years. When the equivalent of Lok Ayukta was established in Singapore (then high on corruption), overnight 150 politicians, officials and mafia dons were jailed. Can there be similar action in India?
The author is veteran Lt Gen of Indian Army.