New leaks embarrass India’s supporters in Pak media

Wikileaks’ website starts posting cables about India, published by The Daily Mail a few days back | Rahul Gandhi warned US of Saffron terror as bigger threat to India | US concerned over security of India’s nuclear set up, biological weapons | ICRC confirmed Indian Army’s brutalities in Occupied Kashmir | Kashmiri leaders hail The Daily Mail over revealing US cables about Indian abuses | US sought removal of Indian Home Minister after 26/11

ISLAMABAD – The Indian supporters in the Pakistan media faced another embarrassment as WikiLeaks’ fresh cables were made public by the Wikileaks’ own website, regarding startling revelations about US fears pertaining to security of Indian nuclear programme, growing threat of Saffron terror and India brutalities in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. The red-faced Indian supporters had earlier apologised for The Daily Mail’s report on WikiLeaks, published by them without giving credit and later turned vault face that the report was ‘fake’. However, The Daily Mail stood by its report and now evidences to establish veracity thereof come up in the shape of fresh trove of leaks. The surfacing of new cables is also astonishing for those who were earlier saying that there are no cables regarding India in the whole trove with WikiLeaks and the newspapers, which got access to the leaked cables. The Daily Mail’s published report which was termed as hoax by British Newspaper The Guardian and termed as “fake leaks” by certain local, pro-India media groups and individual media persons have now been further released by the France-based famous news agency AFP as well.

According to the details, India’s political princeling and Congress Party heir apparent Rahul Gandhi feels that the "the bigger threat (to India) may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community," according to a cable by U.S ambassador to India Timothy Roemer which was released by Wikileaks on Friday

The August 3, 2009 cable records Roemer’s observations from a "candid conversation" he had with Rahul Gandhi at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two weeks earlier. Roemer reports Gandhi as saying, in response to his query about Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities in the region and immediate threat to India, that "there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community." However, the risk of a "home-grown" extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention.

US officials fear lax security at Indian laboratories could make the facilities targets for terrorists seeking biological weapons to launch attacks across the globe, according to comments in a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable made public Friday.

The cable was part of a trove of documents sent from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi that was obtained by the website WikiLeaks and published Friday by the British newspaper The Guardian.

The cables also dealt with accusations of Indian torture in Kashmir, India’s complaints about Pakistan’s handling of the Mumbai terror attacks, and the concerns of Rahul Gandhi — seen as India’s prime-minister-in-waiting — that Hindu extremists posed a greater danger to India than Islamist militants.

One of the cables from June 2006 raised concerns that terrorist groups could take advantage of weak security at Indian laboratories to steal "bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins."

"Terrorists planning attacks anywhere in the world could use India’s advanced biotechnology industry and large biomedical research community as potential sources of biological agents," read the cable, marked "confidential." "Given the strong air connections Delhi shares with the rest of the world and the vulnerabilities that might be exploited at airports, a witting or unwitting person could easily take hazardous materials into or out of the country."

"Getting into a facility to obtain lethal bio-agents is not very difficult here," one expert, whose name was redacted from the cable, told U.S. diplomats.

A second expert said that academic research facilities maintain only very loose security procedures. "The harsh reality is that you can bribe a guard with a pack of cigarettes to get inside," the expert was quoted as saying.

One source told the diplomats that India’s thousands of biological scientists also might be recruited, either out of ideological sympathies or for money.

Suman Sahai, a biotechnology expert, told that security remains very poor at biotech firms four years after the cable was written.

The regulatory system is porous, employees are easily influenced and those leaving public laboratories to work for private companies often steal seeds, genetic material and other sensitive property before they head out the door, she said.

A leaked US embassy cable in which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) describes routine Indian torture against detainees in Kashmir between 2002 and 2004 threatens to heighten tensions in the disputed region after a summer of deadly violence.

The cable, which is one of 250,000 secret US documents WikiLeaks has been releasing in recent weeks, was among several published today from US diplomats in India.

In an April 6, 2005, document, an American diplomat describes being briefed by the ICRC on what the organization says is the routine use of torture to interrogate detainees. Close to 1,500 prisoners were interviewed by the organization during 177 visits to detention centers between 2002 and 2004, according to the cable. The ICRC said they were subjected to beatings, electrocution, and other abuses.

"The ICRC is forced to conclude that [the government of India] condones torture,".

While many activists involved in the struggle against India for an independent Kashmir have long alleged abuses, revelations that ICRC had found widespread abuse come as the situation in Kashmir remains extremely fragile.

Kashmiri leaders in Indian-occupied Kashmir said Saturday reports in leaked US diplomatic cables that security forces used torture in the disputed Himalayan region came as no surprise.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided US diplomats in 2005 with evidence of systematic use of torture by Indian security forces in Kashmir, the cables released by WikiLeaks said.

"There was nothing new. I, too, was subjected to third-degree torture in jails," said Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

"Indian forces have been resorting to inhuman and brutal torture to crush people for the past 20 years", when an armed separatist revolt against New Delhi’s rule began, said Geelani.

The head of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Yasin Malik, said the bodies of Kashmiris bore "witness to the brutal torture most of my colleagues, including myself, were subjected to."

The ICRC told US diplomats of 177 visits it made to detention centres in Indian-occuped Kashmir that revealed "stable trend lines" of prisoner abuses. Techniques included electric shocks, sexual and water torture and the incidents always occurred in the presence of an officer.

The ICRC, which met nearly 1,500 detainees, stressed few were militants. The vast majority were civilians "connected to or believed to have information about the insurgency".

The ICRC said it was "forced to conclude the (Indian government) condones torture", but added the situation had improved from the 1990s, according to the cables.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused India of abuses in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, said the leaks vindicated complaints about torture in Kashmir’s jails.

"We’ve been telling the world for the past 20 years about gross rights violations but the world has been indifferent," he said.

It is also pertinent to mention that the Kashimri, Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farood and Yasin Malik praised that The Daily Mail for highlighting the Indian atrocities in the Occupied Kashmir in its earlier report on the WikiLeaks.