Tamilnadu CM Jayalalithaa has abaondoned all pretence of sympathy for the Koodankulam protest, and her cabinet has declared its intention to commission the plant. Massive repression has been unleashed, and the area is under seige. (see p 33 for more)
According to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ‘foreign’ powers (specifically US and Scandinavian countries) are secretly fuelling the protests against Bt Brinjal and nuclear plants (such as the Koodankulam plant), because they want to thwart India’s growth. The ‘thinking sections’ of India, according to the PM, are all for nuclear power. The Indian Prime Minister is implying that the thousands of Indian people questioning the safety of nuclear energy, and protesting against nuclear plants, especially in the wake of Fukushima, are ‘unthinking’ pawns of foreign powers. The PM’s statement has been followed by a witch-hunt of the leaders and organisations of the Koodankulam protest, with the Government scrutinising their funding sources and freezing the accounts of some NGOs.
Blaming people’s protests on a ‘foreign hand’ is an old tactic, used by Indira Gandhi to justify the Emergency. In Manmohan Singh’s case, this gambit is rather laughable, given that Manmohan Singh’s career in politics began as the IMF’s nominee to become India’s Finance Minister in 1991, chosen to ‘reform’ India’s economic policies in line with World Bank-IMF-dictated ‘structural adjustment’.
There are many instances of ‘foreign hands’ shaping India’s policies, including its energy policy. The Wikileaks cables revealed the US Ambassador approvingly noting that Manmohan Singh, in his Cabinet reshuffle in January 2006, hand-picked several Ministers “who have publicly associated themselves” with the Indo-US strategic partnership, in order to further the cause of “US interests in India (and Iran)”! In this reshuffle, a Petroleum Minister known to be committed towards the Indo-Iran Gas Pipeline was replaced by one whom the US Ambassador declared to be “pro-US” (i.e anti-Iran!).
If, as Manmohan Singh claims, the US has a vested interest in thwarting India’s growth and self-reliance in energy matters, why didn’t the Prime Minister remember that when he inked the Indo-US Nuke Deal? Instead, the Manmohan Government, voting against Iran at the IAEA, altered India’s long-standing foreign policy under pressure from the US in exchange for the Nuke Deal! Not only that, Wikileaks revealed how suitcases full of cash, shown to US representatives, were used to bribe MPs during the confidence vote in the Parliament in the context of the Nuke Deal. Was this not a blatant instance of a ‘foreign hand’ of the US, in collusion with the PM himself, influencing India’s energy and foreign policy to suit its own economic and strategic interests?
In the case of Bt Brinjal, too, there was a foreign (US) hand operating – but in favour of Bt Brinjal and not against it! The Government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which recommended approval for Bt Brinjal, was headed by a man who was also on the Board of Directors of an institution funded by the US MNC Monsanto, which had the patent for Bt Brinjal and had applied for approval! It was left to activists to expose this blatant conflict of interest. The moratorium on Bt Brinjal was declared only under pressure from popular protests and widely publicised safety concerns regarding GM foods.
The Manmohan Singh Government is not only making policies to suit foreign interests, it also seems to be hiding the truth about the presence of US troops on Indian soil. At a US Congressional hearing, a top general of the Pentagon (U.S. Pacific Command chief Admiral Willard) made a written statement that US military troops have bases in India, Nepal, Bangladesh Sri Lanka, and the Maldives to counter threats from terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Pentagon official said “We have currently special forces assist teams — Pacific assist teams is the term — laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India.” The Pentagon official also stated that apart from US Defence forces, “other agencies” (presumably CIA, FBI etc) are assisting India on “counter-terror and counterinsurgency” matters.
A red-faced Ministry of External Affairs denied that US troops were stationed in India, claiming that US Special Forces came to India only for joint exercises for a specified duration. The Defence Ministry claimed that U.S. Special Forces teams have never been stationed in India in the past, nor are such teams stationed in the country presently. There has been no clarification or correction from the US, however, indicating that the Pentagon official’s statement was correct. The Indian Government has not denied the presence and involvement of US agencies like CIA/FBI in Indian matters.
Way back in 2002, the US Defence Department had prepared a report titled ‘Indo-US Military Relations: Expectations and Perceptions,’ in which they expressed the US’ wish to have access to Indian military bases so as to be “closer to areas of instability”. The report had cautioned about the need for such US presence to remain “out of sight” in order to avoid adverse public opinion in India, and had suggested that the Navy was a good place to begin, without leaving any telltale “footprints … on the ground’’ in India. It is well known that in Pakistan and other countries, US spy agencies and military often have a secret presence, engaging in targeted killings and other operations without the general public being taken into confidence. Is the same happening in India now?
The Manmohan Singh Government owes the truth to India’s people. We should not have to wait for more Wikileaks cables to find out the facts about the presence and role of US military forces and espionage agencies in India.
Israel pressurised the Indian Government to declare Iran to be behind the recent bomb blast on an Israeli diplomat’s car in India, but officially, India has not done so. However, India seems to be playing a double game. Although officially it has not named Iran as being responsible for the blast, the Delhi Police Special Cell is clearly building a case for an Iran link to the blast. More disturbingly, Israeli agencies seem to be clandestinely influencing the investigation.
The head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad visited India just prior to the blast. The Delhi Police Special Cell has made a highly controversial arrest of senior journalist Syed Mohammed Kazmi. The grounds for Kazmi’s arrest are flimsy, and seem to be based mainly on the fact that he knew Persian, was employed by the Iranian News Agency and was therefore in touch with the Iranian embassy and sources in Iran. There have been strong protests by journalists and civil society against Kazmi’s arrest. In court, Kazmi has said that he was being questioned by Mossad agents, and interrogators were in plain clothes rather than uniforms, to hide the identity of the Mossad agents. The court, indicating that it was unconvinced by the police’s denials, reprimanded Delhi Police Special Cell officials for violating regulations, and asked them to remain in uniform during interrogations, and to keep records of interrogations.
It is well known that the US and Israel have been trying to create a bogey of Iranian terror in order to pave the way for war on Iran. An observer, commenting on the blast and its aftermath, said that the “US has been trying for years to damage India’s ties with Iran, our second biggest supplier of oil. Is it a coincidence that this attack happened just about when Iran agreed to take payment in Rupees for the oil it’s selling to India?” (See Liberation, March 2012)
The main opposition party, BJP, has asked Manmohan Singh to act on his allegations against NGOs, saying that BJP has for long warned against Christian organisations getting foreign funding for conversion and anti-India activities. Clearly, BJP is echoing the Congress Government’s stand on Koodankulam, because it too is more concerned to serve the interests of MNCs and imperialist forces rather than worry about Indian citizens’ safety. Moreover the fact that a large section of protestors at Koodankulam are Christian gives BJP an incentive to indulge in its usual communal propaganda. Interestingly, the UPA Government has no objection to foreign-funded NGOs, as long as they back Government policies, and it has taken no action whatsoever on the ample evidence that Sangh Parivar outfits are using funds received from abroad on charitable pretexts, on its communal hate activities.
It is the people’s movements which, against all odds, are defending the interests of Indian citizens against the real foreign hand – the MNCs, the imperialist powers and their agents like Manmohan Singh!