NEW DELHI: Defying intelligence and security agencies efforts to neutralise terror modules, the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI has evolved its strategy with increasingly treacherous sleeper cells to carry out spectacular sabotage against economic installations in India and inflict violence against right wing leaders.
Intelligence agencies have for months been monitoring the chatters from across the border that shows shift in ISI’s strategy and new directives for terror outfits aligned with the rogue state agency.
The first task, sources revealed is to target religious leaders especially those who belong to Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS). Months before the killing of RSS leader Jagdish Kumar Gagneja in Punjab, the intelligence agencies had informed several state governments that ISI was plotting attack against members of the right wing group. The input had specifically mentioned that ‘top RSS leaders are on the target of ISI modules operating in India.’
Sources said the intelligence was collected by external spy agency Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) that six ISI handlers were operating from Canada disguised as Sikhs for Punjab operation and for the first time they were engaged in what appears to be planned violent attack aimed at leaders of a particular community.
“The link between the ISI and leaders of some Sikh militant groups abroad is well known. But, for the first time ISI is not using these proxies and directly handling the operation. The finance was controlled by these ISI agents based in Canada. The idea was to foment trouble between the communities,” sources said further adding that their linkages were discussed as early as in August this year where top security officers discussed the ISI effort to revive Sikh terrorism in Punjab.
“Jagtar and Jimmy module that was involved in five other killings in Punjab and now have been arrested was linked to Canada ISI operation. The main objective was to stir up communal violence,” sources further added.
The ISI is no more planning to carry out blasts in India’s hinterland. As an organisation that always supported terrorism, the ISI latest move has surprised many in security establishment. A senior officer, who is privy to secret surveillance operation, said the ISI target is economic installation.
“The chatters indicate two major fire incidents this summer in Chandni Chowk market that gutted hundreds of shops was carried out by ISI cells. We are also investigating whether two other incidents at Delhi’s Kamla Market and Gaffar Market were carried out on behalf of ISI. We are also examining the evidence about a fire incident in Kolkata,” the officer said.
He explained that recalibration in ISI strategy is also because of recent international pressure, especially strong worded statements made by the US President Donald Trump and secondly financing the terror operations in India is becoming a huge problem.
Thirdly economic sabotage like gutting down big markets leaves no trail that may lead the investigators to Pakistan unless we have some suspects on monitoring net. “That is precisely the reason ISI wants to carry out under the radar sabotage operation and not terror attacks. And these are relatively low-cost but high-damage operations,” the officer further argued.