BJP’s Hindu-Nationalism Ahead of Polls May Spark Clashes: US Intel

Increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims, allow Islamist terrorism to expand, US Intel Report said.

2 min read
Centre’s policies during PM Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, a US Intel Report said.

A new US intelligence report assessing global threats has concluded that the 2019 “parliamentary elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stresses Hindu nationalist themes.”

“BJP policies during Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters,” the report, presented by Daniel Ray Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, said.

Increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence, the report added.

Coats and heads of other top American intelligence agencies presented the report before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on their worldwide threat assessment.

Prominent among them were CIA Director Gina Haspel, who just returned from a trip to India; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley.


Congress leaders, including Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and Sanjay Jha, took to Twitter to slam the Modi government over the report.

Pakistan-Supported Militant Groups Will Continue Attacking India

The militant groups supported by Pakistan will continue to conduct terrorist attacks in both India and Afghanistan, America's spymaster said.

Coats also said that Pakistan's "narrow approach to counterterrorism cooperation –using some groups as policy tools and confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan – almost certainly will frustrate US counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban."

"Militant groups supported by Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests," Coats told the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The comment on South Asia is part of US intelligence community's assessment of worldwide threats in 2019 and was presented in the form of a written document to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Coats.

Coats said that the challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of Afghanistan's presidential election in mid-July and the Taliban's large-scale attacks, Pakistan's recalcitrance in dealing with militant groups, and Indian elections that risk communal violence.


"We assess that neither the Afghan Government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if coalition support remains at current levels," he said.

Afghan forces generally have secured cities and other government strongholds, but the Taliban has increased large-scale attacks, and Afghan security suffers from a large number of forces being tied down in defensive missions, mobility shortfalls, and a lack of reliable forces to hold recaptured territory, Coats added.

India-China Tensions

“We expect relations between India and China to remain tense, despite efforts on both sides to manage tensions since the border standoff in 2017, elevating the risk of unintentional escalation,” the report said.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping and Modi held an informal summit in April 2018 to defuse tension and normalise relations, but they did not address border issues. Misperceptions of military movements or construction might result in tensions escalating into armed conflict,” it added.

Read the full report here and watch the US intelligence chiefs' full testimony here.

(With inputs from PTI)

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