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Going Beyond

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The ‘renowned global newspaper’, The Guardian, has alleged that Indian intelligence agencies have been responsible for the killings of twenty designated terrorists in Pakistan since 2019. This Indian strategy, it has claimed, followed upon the Pulwama attack, which was carried out by terrorists from across the border with the support of the Pakistani establishment. The usual response of governments to allegations of this sort is to ‘neither confirm nor deny’. This does not mean that such actions do not occur, and Israel is a leading exponent of such strikes, both by intelligence operatives and its armed forces – the latest being on Thursday in Damascus.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry has consistently refuted such allegations, stating that this is not part of the government’s policy. On the other hand, the Defence Minister has on more than one occasion affirmed that India would strike at the source in case of a terrorist attack from across the border. The question is not whether India has adopted a counter-strategy against terrorists based in other countries. It is whether Indian intelligence agencies have developed the ability to do so. With NSA Ajit Doval in the driving seat for a long period, there has certainly been the required consistency and time to implement a pre-emptive anti-terror strategy. If one is to go by the Guardian report, there are enough mercenaries available to carry out India’s agenda, without it having to be directly involved. The allegations regarding targeting of Khalistan promoters in Canada and the US have had similar alleged scenarios. The ‘handlers’ are also said to be based abroad, making the link quite tenuous from the legal point of view.

As in the case of many government backed assassinations and suchlike across the world, it is very difficult to prove culpability and criminality in courts of law. However, in the court of public opinion, judgements are radically different, depending on each case. While The Guardian and other such news organisations may have their own agenda in depicting India in a certain way – which may require to be countered – people in India will have no problems with terrorists being targeted in their hideaways. The Guardian may not be aware that this latest report could actually boost Prime Minister Modi’s popularity even further. Those who allege that the Pulwama incident was ‘fake’, as was the counter-strike into Pakistan, will be pretty miffed at such evidence of Modi’s machismo just before the elections.