Government Formation in Madhya Pradesh:
The BJP – under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan – formed the government in Madhya Pradesh in March. This was made possible by 22 rebel Congress MLAs rejecting the Kamal Nath government, along with Jyotiraditya Scindia. The Congress accepted the resignation of 16 rebel MLAs after protracted political and legal drama, finally paving the way for Kamal Nath to resign and for BJP to come to power in the state.
Evolving Situation in Kashmir:
Even as the Indian government appears to have been full-time busy “battling” the COVID19 coronavirus, the country has been receiving a series of rude shocks in Kashmir. The recent killing of Army personnel in Handwara by foreign terrorists after a prolonged hostage-like situation and of CRPF personnel the next day, the lobbying of a grenade by terrorists in Pakherpora market of Budgam in Central Kashmir, etc. are just some of the wake-up calls for India’s deplorable failure to prevent the attacks.
The Handwara attack was particularly jarring, as it continued from afternoon to evening and involved civilians trapped in a house. Terrorists were also using communication devices during this encounter, while the Indian personnel were caught unawares at some point.
Prior to these attacks, in early April, there was a widespread gathering of thousands of people who had come to attend the funeral of a local terrorist, violating all lockdown rules. At the same time, there has been, since the last few weeks, frequent and unmitigated exchanged of fire with Pakistani Army and attempts by Pakistan to ramp up aggressive infiltration of terrorists into India.
Ever since the COVID19 lockdown began, the situation in Kashmir has been rapidly going downhill. While 45 militants have been killed between August 2019 and March 2020, more than 200 are still active. These militants have intensified their activity during India’s preoccupation with the coronavirus. A new terrorist front – The Resistance Front (TRF) – has been claiming responsibility for recent attacks in Kashmir. In reality, TRF, the security agencies, believe is nothing but Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), along with other terror groups.
Recently, due to pressure from Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan has found a way of re-naming terrorist organizations, giving them political (rather than Muslim-sounding) names, in English language, so that it looks to the world as if there a genuine ‘political’ struggle for freedom going on in Kashmir, rather than an Islamic movement. This Islamic movement against India may have become stronger and more determined, as terrorist groups (unlike in the past) are no longer competing with each other, but have united under common fronts like TRF.
This is directly linked to the sudden emboldening of Pakistan and of Islamic terrorists acting against India. Most recently, Al-Qaeda chief urged Muslims of India to unite together and wage jihad against India. Currently, Pakistan is waging the war against India on four fronts – ground-level exchange of fire; proxy wars through infiltration and increased presence of local and foreign terrorists in Kashmir and by exhorting Indian Muslims in the rest of the country; cyber war against India involving epic and indistinguishable levels of fraud; and diplomatic offensive involving exploiting the gains made out of OIC’s alienation with India. There is little doubt that Muslims have also become increasingly receptive to these callings – as evidenced through the anti-CAA and Delhi riots confrontations.
At all these four levels, India has been – so far – unable to answer back in kind. The tragic Handwara attack highlighted not only intelligence failure, but also raises concerns about the morale and preparedness of security forces in direct combat situation with terrorists. At every level, India appears to be deflated, even as Pakistan and its terrorists are exhibiting peak levels of activity and enthusiasm. India’s uninspiring and struggling preoccupation with a small virus, the cowardly confinement of an entire country to their homes and the debilitating psychological environment this has created, has only served to weaken the country in front of its enemies, while empowering the latter.
So preoccupied has India become with a puny virus that the country has gone into an entirely delusional mode and lost all sight of the serious challenges threatening it at its frontiers.
Developments in Afghanistan:
Developments in Afghanistan have proceeded at a fast pace and India finds itself a mute spectator to the unfolding legitimization and official expansion of Taliban in its neighbourhood. Afghanistan is facing a three-pronged crisis viz. political reconciliation between warring Afghan government factions, intra-Afghan talks between Taliban and Afghan government, and, Taliban-US deal.
In the weeks since the US-Taliban deal was signed in late February, the Taliban flagrantly violated it by continuously attacking Afghan government targets, even during the peak of coronavirus spread in the country. This is happening even as governmental deadlock in Afghanistan between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah is stuck, worsened by the fact that Ghani’s Pashtun and Abdullah’s Tajik ethnicities may further have a political impact through the simmering ethnic cauldron. Towards the end of April, the two rivals tried to reach a tentative deal, but nothing has been finalized yet.
Abdullah placed before Ghani a proposal that would see Abdullah lead the peace talks with Taliban, get 50% share of the government (including high ranking places for his allies) and would become the ‘executive Prime Minister’. Ghani has not agreed to these conditions. However, it has been confirmed that Abdullah would lead the peace council and that a deal would be finalized very soon.
The Delhi Police Crackdown:
One of the key outcomes to have come out in the midst of India’s “battle” against a virus is the opportunity taken by the Delhi Police to utilize the lockdown for cracking down on Delhi riots accused and anti-CAA protestors, both of whom were largely linked to each other through common networks.
While, during the initial phase of the lockdown, the investigations into the Delhi riots had slowed down a little, an intervention by Home Ministry required investigations to be speeded up. Thereafter, after early April, there were several arrests made in this regard. Till mid-April, more than 800 arrests had been made related to the riots, out of which 620 were made by Northeast Delhi district police. These are separate from arrests of anti-CAA activists, which included prominent names belonging to Jamia Coordination Committee and activists belonging to Leftist groups.