Communal violence may hit India before Election 2019; warns US Intelligence

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File photo of Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence in the US
File photo of Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence in the US

New Delhi : Ahead of general election to be held in May 2019, speculations from critics, globally, are doing rounds. Of the may guess works, key words came from the US. There is a strong possibility of communal violence in India if the ruling BJP stresses on Hindu nationalist themes before election, America's top spymaster told US lawmakers.

The warning from US intelligence community as a part of assessment of worldwide threats in the year 2019 was presented in the form of a written document to the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence.

"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," Coats told members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Lately, top American intelligence agencies appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to present their worldwide threat assessment. Among the key people were CIA Director Gina Haspel, who has just returned from a trip to India, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley.

"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," Coats said in his written statement.

"Increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence,” Coats warned ahead of the general election. The five-year term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ends in May. The entire process of election and formation of the new Parliament needs to be completed successfully by May.

Also, Coats in his written statement warns about the tensed India- Pakistan relationship at least till May.

"We judge that cross-border terrorism, firing across the Line of Control (LoC), divisive national elections in India, and Islamabad's perception of its position with the United States relative to India will contribute to strained India-Pakistan relations at least through May 2019, the deadline for the Indian election, and probably beyond," he said.

"Political maneuvering resulting from the Indian national elections probably will further constrain near-term opportunities for improving ties," it said.