Framing the ISI in every act of terrorism has become the most favourite activity for the security forces of India. It seems that most of the time and resources are being lavishly wasted on digging out the roots and connections of the ISI in India but yet so far no one has succeeded in achieving the desired objectives; neither the Indian Central Bureau of Intelligence nor the Raw. From the Mumbai blasts to the Samjhauta Express burning, the ISI was blamed baselessly just after the occurrence of the incidents, even before the regular investigations could have started. In India, from 1999 to 2011, one can find a long list of culprits and criminals arrested in the name of the ISI but the exemplary judicious courts of India very honestly and impartially rejected to be a part of this blame game. In the last 12 years more than hundred people have been arrested under the allegations of having their links with the ISI but fortunately they all got acquitted. Various record files of different newspapers provide a lively proof to this reality.
The Express India posted a report on July 20, 2004 with reference to a city sessions court of Ahmadabad which acquitted three persons alleged to be ISI agents. They were also accused of being involved in drug trafficking, supplying fake currency, arms and drugs in Gujarat and Rajasthan. In the order, principal judge of the city sessions court C S Oza said, “The prosecution had mentioned the accused as ISI agents but had failed to prove charges against them. No prima facie case seems to exist against three accused’’ According to the charge sheet filed against these three Indian Muslims, they were arrested by the Crime Branch on January 23, 2001, near a telephone booth in Vatva allegedly while making phone calls to Pakistan. The charge sheet said that the accused were working with Pakistani ISI agents to build a network for supply of arms and ammunitions in the State.
The Khaleej Times of 2nd July, 2005 reported another case of the same type in which a Kolkata court acquitted eight Indian Muslims who were branded Pakistan’s spies and charged with waging war against India. In the landmark verdict the judge Sourish Mukherjee not only ordered their immediate release but observed that the police had no evidence whatsoever against the accused persons and failed to produce even a single witness. The collapse of this high-profile case which was cited by authorities in New Delhi and Kolkata as ‘proof’ of ISI’s operations in India not only left the police with egg on its face but also exposed the Indian establishment’s habit of ISI fixation in every criminal activity; says the paper.
On 12 June 2008 there comes another report of the Indian Express and of so many other news sources regarding the ten people who were arrested in 1999 by Assam Police which branded them as ISI Agents. The Assam Police could not prove their ISI Links in the court even after 9 years of keeping these people behind the bars and ultimately they were released by Guwahati Court as there was no evidence against these people being ISI agents. During the case hearing some of the newspapers alleged that the Assam Police was in a habit of arresting people in the name of being ISI agents only to collect source money from the Centre. Somewhere in 2010, a Naib Subedar of 25 Rajput Regiment, Fayaz Khan had to face a summarily court martial on allegations that he had links with Islamic terror groups and the ISI but luckily all allegation against him proved false and partial. The Armed forces tribunal issued orders to reinstate him at the post of religious teacher but the defence ministry refused to reinstate a Muslim soldier acquitted of the charges of being an ISI agent. The helpless Naib Subedar is still waiting for justice but no one is willing to lend him a helping hand because he is a Muslim.
Not only in India but even in the western world, there is always a violent hurricane of blames and allegations against the ISI. Sometimes the ISI is blamed for its so-called relationship with the Taliban and sometimes for its alleged links with the home-grown terrorist groups in India which have no doubt become a grave threat to the sovereignty and existence of the country. Here is an extract from an article written by Wilson John in June 1999. The title was ‘ISI Fangs.’ The writer said,” Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has always done what its Army can never do. It has captured the vitals of the Indian nation; its tentacles are spread across every nook and cranny-from Gujarat to Assam, from Kashmir to Kerala. It can trigger blasts in remote places, fuel communal riots in peaceful cities and blow up railway stations anywhere it wishes to. It can spread terror wherever, whenever. Its control is full and final.” God knows better what the motive behind writing this article was. The writer wanted to pay a tribute to the performance of the ISI or to highlight the inefficiency and inefficacy of the security agencies of India or to introduce the ISI as a terrorist organization? Things are still the same even after such a long period of twelve years. The blame game against Pakistan is on; the two opponent teams are in the field; one of the team is the ISI and the other one consists of the players from USA, Israel, UK and India. Let us see what happens next.
The writer is a Pakistan based analyst on defence and strategic affairs