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India, America, Israel


That both under the erstwhile  NDA regime, led by Atal Bihari Vajpai of the right-wing Hindu BJP (1998-2004) and the UPA regime (s) led by Manmohan Singh of the Congress Party (2004-2009, and since) a central feature of India’s foreign policy has been to draw closer to both the United States and Israel is not such a hidden feature of India’s post-reforms history anymore.

 

 

The more than considerate attentiveness to the interests of American corporates of course has been a long-term constant. 

 

 

What I seek to do here is not so much to detail these histories as to draw a   skein related to diverse episodes,   one that seems intricately revelatory of a  coherent  macro policy intent, always latent among the Indian ruling classes but now more than ever in full bloom.

 

The Bhopal Mass Murder & Indian Collaboration with Carbide::

 

The details of this are by now too well-known to require iteration.  Suffice it to say that on the night of December 3, 1984, lethal quantities of Methyl Isocyanate escaped from the Union Carbide factory, as water entered tank no.610.

 

 

Within hours, some 2500 citizens, most of them poor Muslims, lost their lives.

 

Since then, a total of 20,000 are estimated to have perished, and hundreds of thousands either maimed, or rendered permanenly disabled.

 

The only known antidote to the lethal gas, Sodium Thiosulphate,  could not be reached the victims for one disingenuous reason or another.  Forensic experts,   fudged their reports, causing distortions in investigations over a long period.

 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did, however, manage to file a chargesheet against Company officials in 1987.  The charges included one under section 304 II  of the Penal Code, “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”  punishable by upto ten years in jail,  a charge based on prior knowledge of the Company management that lacunae in the safety regulations at the plant, which did not correspond to safety features of a similar Carbide plant in West Virginia, could lead to disaster,  and on their refusal to rectify the same despite  admonitions and demands made that they do so. Ostensibly, to keep the costs of running the plant in check!

 

Whatever the other details, all in the public eye now several times over, the point of interest here is how Warren Anderson, the then CEO of UCIL was dealt with, and, secondly, how the highest court in India chose to view the matter.

 

That Anderson managed to escape the country is common knowledge; but only now do we know how that ignoble escape was facilitated.

 

And this we know from no less than  the then Collector of the city of Bhopal, Moti Singh., from the officer who manned the airport at Bhopal, and the pilot who flew the plane that brought Anderson to Delhi, literally the very day the disaster happened.

 

Without mincing matters, the honourable Moti Singh has gone on record to say that on the evening of December 4, while Anderson was in local custody, Shri Singh received a call from the Chief Secretary, the highest ranking bureaucrat within the Indian system of government, to the effect that he wished to confer with Singh and the then Superintendent of Police.

 

At that meeting, Singh and the S.P were directed to release Anderson and to take him to the airport where a  plane was waiting to fly him to Delhi.

 

It turns out that the state-owned  plane was made available by the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Arjun Singh.  Arjun Singh, it may be said, has always foregrounded himself in politics as a staunch secularist, and a diehard opponent of Hindutva communalism.  Most of the those killed in Bhopal were Muslims.

 

Just today, an Arjun Singh acolyte and erstwhile chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, has told the media that Arjun Singh was not to blame for Anderson’s great escape.  He has pointed a finger at the then central government, led by the late Rajiv Gandhi, and at American “pressure.”  Even as other Congress leaders, such as Satyavrat Chaudhary who was a  Legislator in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly have said that it is for Arjun Singh, the then Congress chief minister, to break his silence to the nation.

  

It is a matter of interest that never in the last quarter century has such a demand been made by anyone,whether in the Congress or the BJP, a clear pointer to the fact that collaboration with American corporate interests cuts across party lines (leaving out the Left) and speaks for the ruling class per se.

 

One Indian media house claims now to have accessed a CIA file on the issue that records that Anderson’s exit was authorised by the then central government inorder not to jeopordise American corporate investments in India at a time when such investments were direly needed.

 

Were one to think of a parallel to the obscene escape of the Carbide CEO from the country and from liability, what comes to mind is the great escape of the whole Bin Laden clan from Texas, hours after the twin towers were hit, all in a plane made available by the Bush family.  Indeed, it was the only plane allowed to leave the United States

in the wake of 9/11. 

 

 

Thus, if  the Indian rulers obliged the American corporate,   the Americans obliged the Saudi oil bigwigs with whom the Bush family had intimate business relations..  Cute, cosy, and consistent with how global Capitalism works.

 

In Delhi, Anderson reportedly had a meeting with the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh.  Next anybody knew, Anderson was off to safety in the United States where he has been spotted living a rich and comfy life in a mansion in New York.

 

Thus, although he remains an absconder-accused, prime one at that, and although an extradition treaty exists between India and the United States, the world has not exactly been turned upside down by any subsequent government in India to seek his return to face trial, nor is the US government likely to send him over.  Indeed, recent statements of US spokesmen suggest in no unclear terms that such is farthest from their minds.  Even as they also argue that Union Carbide, America, has no liability in the matter, nor Dow Chemicals which cannily took over Union Carbide India Ltd., inorder that further culpability of the UCIL could be snuffed in legalese.

 

In that endeavour, it now turns out, they also had support from within the government of India, Kamal Nath and Chidambaram, two influential ministers thought to be close to the United States and votaries of market fundamentalism, having forcefully argued against others that Dow should not be hauled up if investments from American corporates are to be  encouraged.

 

Dow chemicals operations continue in the state of Maharashtra, ruled by the Congress, and in Gujarat, ruled by the BJP, and a ban on the corporate has never been on the table.

 

 

Tail Piece

 

The sordid conspiracy to favour the corporate found its final expression in a ruling of the Supreme Court which held that the principle of vicarious responsibility did not apply in the case, and proceeded to water down the  Chargesheet to “ criminal negligence”(Section 304 A) as it quashed the charge of “culpable homicide not amounting to murder.”  This in 1996.

 

The then Chief Justice  subsequently took over as lifetime chairman of the Carbide –funded Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust, set up under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India.  He is not embarrassed.

 

 

Thus, after a quarter century of the event, some seven or eight of the management of the then UCIL have been found guilty of “negligence” and convicted to a maximum of 2 years in prison! 

 

 

But, not to fret, they are also promptly out on bail.

 

One other thing: the medical data from the disaster  was consistently sought to be suppressed by the Indian Council of Medical Research

 

In the meanwhile, thousands of victims in Bhopal still have no redress to sustained medication, some 325 tons of toxic waste remains at and around the site (statement by the current Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh) as the water pipes continue to receive that lethal contamination.

 

Not to mention the other perfidy; an out of court settlement with the corporate to the measly tune of some 470 million dollars, amounting at last count to some 300 dollars or less per affected victim!  A half of the declared victims yet to receive any.

 

When the Exxon Valdex spilled oil off the coast of Alaska (1989—five years after the Bhopal disaster), the damages were fixed at one billion dollars.  Clearly, bird life in America was of greater value than the 20,000 human beings who died in Bhopal and the many thousands who have been maimed across generations.

 

And now, when after the BP spill in the gulf of Mexico, Obama seeks to “kick some ass” and  reverse legislation that  caps   liability in the US  at $75 million after the Alaska event under the oil lobby pressure, and to introduce criminal liability provisions, the Indian government is sought to be pressurized to cap Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages through parliamentary legislation at Rs.500 crores.

 

In other words, were a Chernobyl or a Three Mile Island to happen at a US corporate nuclear plant in India, the damages would be civil only, and about a half of that which was settled for the Bhopal disaster out of court!  And, only the “operator” would be thus liable.  Read, the Indian component of the management and not representatives or managers of the supplier company. Not the nuclear Andersons.

 

In the proposed new Liability Bill, significantly, section 17(b) which asks for "right to recourse" if a "nuclear incident has resulted from wilful or gross negligence on the part of the supplier or his employee" is sought now to be dropped under pressure from the American nuclear lobby and government.

 

 

The Israeli-Indian State-Hindutva Connect:

 

The total trade between India and Israel in 2001 was $200 million. By now that has grown to $4.1 billion.  India is today the world’s biggest buyer of Israeli military hardware, to a tune of $9 billion.  India is also currently weighing a most-favoured  Free Trade Agreement with a country that   was during the Nehru era  the pariah of the Indian foregn policy establishment.  It is thought that close cooperation now exists between Indian spy agencies and the Israeli Mossad, who have been in and out of the country recently.

 

The most recent evidence of the closeness has come in the form of the statement issued by the Indian foreign office on the Gaza-aid flotilla event.  The statement, while deploring violent means to settle the dispute, does not name Israel.

 

But an even more sinister link has thus far been invisible to the pubic eye—one that concerns a connect between Hindu terrorist organizations and counterparts in Israel.

 

Between 2002 (the year of the Gujarat carnage) and 2009, a series of bomb blasts took place in

India, curiously all in areas dominated by Muslims:

 

–2002: IED found at Bhopal railway station, aimed in all likelihood at Muslims gathering for a Tablighi conclave;

 

–2003: bomb blast at Mohammadiya mosque in Parbhani, Maharashtra; and a bomb again found at Bhopal on the last day of  a Tablighi meet;

 

–2004: blasts at mosques and a Madarasa  in Purna, and Jalna in Maharashtra;

 

–2006: two Bajrang Dal activists killed in Nanded, Maharashtra, as the bomb they were making exploded;

 

——– blasts at three places in Malegaon, targeting a mosque and graveyard on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat; 38 killed; Maharashtra;

 

–2007: Feb.,18, 68 killed in  a double suitcase bomb blast on the Samjhauta Express, a friendship train between India and Pakistan; of those 42 Pakistani nationals;

 

———in May (16th) blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad city; two Bajrang Dal activists again killed in Kanpur while assembling a bomb;

 

———-October, 11: blast at the eight hundred year old Chishti Dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan;

 

–2008:  a blast again at Malegaon in Maharashtra, and another at Modasa in Gujarat;

 

–2009: two die while carrying a bomb on the eve of the festival of Diwali in Margao, Goa.

 

In all these cases, the investigating agencies promptly named one Muslim organization or the other as the culprit., hauled up hundreds of young Muslims, and used torture to draw “confessions.”

 

Until, that is, thanks to the exemplary and fair-minded efforts of the late Hemant Karkare, investigations revealed the hand of Hindu organizations in the Malegaon blast of 2008, leading to the arrest of Lt.Col. Srikanth Purohit, Dayanand Pandey, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

 

Karkare’s team now began to see that evidence of linkages between this blast and the others surfaced  during investigations, such as common source of SIM cards used, common explosive materials and detonative techniques,  and so on.  A man named Rakesh Dhawre, a counterfeit arms dealer, is discovered to be the link between the Malegaon blast of 2006, of the Purna and Parbhani blasts and the revelatory Malegaon blast of 2008.

 

Karkare was thus able to implicate several  Hindu organizations in the shenanigans, chiefly, Hindu Jagran Manch, Ahinav Bharat, Sanatan Sanstha.  ( (Since then, in May, 2010,  the involvement of two workers of the RSS,  Devendra Gupta and Chandrashekhar, in the Ajmer blast has been revealed).

 

Karkare begins to receive threats to his life, including on the  eve of 26/11.

 

 

26/11

 

Three of the best Mumbai police officers, Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, and Vijay Salaskar are gunned down as they are asked to proceed to the Cama hospital, all in the same vehicle, wearing sub-standard bullet-proof jackets that have no protection above the chest as statutorily expected and required.

 

This while the main terrorist  battle-ground has shifted  elsewhere.

 

Ajmal Kasab and his companion terrorist, Ismail are held guilty of shooting the three.

 

Smelling a rat, and distrusting the official account of their deaths,  Kavita Karkare and  Vinita Kamle, wives of two of the slain officers, launch their independent investigations.

 

 

Vinita Kamle records in her book To The Last Bullet, how  in response to persistent  Right To Information (RTI) applications she is told that, the three were  advised to proceed to Cama hospital on the fateful day by Rakesh Maria, incharge of the control room during the terrorist episode.       

 

 

Kavita Karkare and Vinita Kamle also find out that Karkare received shots in the neck and  along the shoulder, precisely the spots where the bullet-proof vests did not protect him.  Somebody had to know that the vests were defective and vulnerable in those areas.

 

It may be noted that the vests worn by the officers went missing, until under persistent pressure, they were discovered in some garbage bin.  All were found defective.

 

During the Ajmal Kasab trial, Judge Tahaliyani asks pointedly of the Mumbai police as to what happened to the two bullets which passed through Karkare’s body?

Not having the fatal bullets, the judge asked, how do we know whose gun killed Karkare?  A speculation that continues to rankle.

 

Now, here is what: the chargesheet filed by the Maharashtra ATS detailed links between Abhinav Bharat and right-wing Jewish organizations in Israel, and that this Hindu organization had been soliciting the approval of those Jewish organizations for its  terrorist work.

 

Hardnews, June, 2010 issue, notes   in its cover story:

 

     “Israeli covert outfits have been accused even by Americans for triggering off blasts in Pakistan and Afghanistan

.  Those allegations found expression even in one of the big Israeli newspapers, Ha’aretz:  ‘the purpose and intent of these blasts, as perfected by agent provocateurs in different theatres of violence, is to deepen the divide between communities, create a sense of anarchy and revenge, and provide retaliation.  Hindu terror groups since 2002 have also followed the same model.’” 

 

 

That, however, Hindu terrorist groups in India have had such close contact with Israeli counterparts, that the activities of these groups have been sought to be kept under wraps or to be deflected to the usual  suspects, or that it was Rakesh Maria who advised Karkare to go to Cama Hospital, Karkare who had boldly refuted the pavlovian instinct to blame HUJI and SIMI and other Muslim groups for the blast at Malegaon, and then found other evidences of Hindu terrorist involvements in the preceding blasts, that this spelt a highly undesirable turn of events for a particular version of “nationalism” in India, one closely analogous to a Zionist variety, these things suggest that the Indian embrace of Israel has been far tighter than anyone speculated.  As well as collaboration on the ground.

 

Indeed, reading S.M.Mushrif, Who Killed Karkare?., Delhi, 2009, and  Vinita Kamle’s To the Last Bullet, keeping in mind the trenchant observation of the Judge (who has sentenced the terrorist Ajmal Kasab just the  other day) on the death of Karkare, recalling how the police fiasco of 26/11 was strenuously sought to be pasted on the senior police officer, Hasan Gafoor rather than on Rakesh Maria and others,  and noting what the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz has commented without fanfare on the  Hindu/Jewish collaboration in  terrorism, the favour routinely shown to Israel should hardly come as any surprise.

 

Conclusion:

 

 

It therefore should not seem an excessive inference that the three amigos are indeed joined at various hips together—in a general attitude to seek dominance and privilege, in taking the military route to that dominance, in a barely concealed espousal of  “nationalism” as a chauvinist/racialist idea at bottom, in designating a common enemy, and in collaborating in anti-terrorist  mechanisms that include a Hindu/Jewish axis as well, and of a terrorist kind, and as the Anderson case previously and the nuclear-cap issue now suggests, in protecting each other’s tactical and material assets and interests every which way.   

 

All that informed and propelled by the interests of market-fundamentalist corporates in a deadly package to fend off   the rest of the world, especially the Muslim world (notice India’s continued reluctance to join the Iran/Pakistan Gas pipeline project, one that potentially bears enormous dividends to the Indian consumer at low cost)  and a still-one-party-socialist China.

 

The dime-a-dozen military exercises among forces, including the navies and the airforces, of the three countries are thus meant to convey to the world that the three amigos intend to encircle the oceans, and  aid and abet one another in ground warfare.  The Inter-Operability draft agreements are on the table, whereby such forces must come to each other’s aid in wars that will be designated common wars, and indeed carry identical uniforms and weapons for facilitating such warfare, besides helping American arms manufacturers to make yet more killings.

 

Such amigos clearly must be seen to be bad news.

 

It will remain to be seen how, public opinion in the three countries shapes in the near future.  And how that opinion is marshaled by political forces that both see the tri-junctional coordinates shaping up, and recognize the dangers that lurk therein for the common good.

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 Inputs from

 

1. Hardnews, june, 2010.

 

2.Hindustan Times, Sitaram Yechury, June 8; Sunita Narain, June 10.

 

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