The Lashkar-e-Shivba has been formed by youth in Pune and Sangli in reaction to the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s anti-Indian activities. It is designed to be a people’s force against the Tayyaba and Hizbul Mujahideen. When youth in
launched the Lashkar-e-Shivba with these objectives one could view it as mere vigilantism. In developed societies, vigilantism is part of a community-policing programme. In others, it emerges whenever the need arises and the local security apparatus is unable to meet the demands of policing. Can Shivba be seen in this light?
Firstly, the agenda. Many members of the group are Shiv Sainiks, and the group was launched “with the blessings of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackerey”; it “draws its inspiration from Shivaji Maharaj and Balasaheb’s militant Hindutva.” Though the immediate objective of the group is to check the spread of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in various parts of
, the founders are clear that they do not want to limit their operations to
. With utterances like, “Kashmiri Hindus have been thrown out of their state. Their land and rights have to be restored immediately…” it is obvious that the agenda is more communal than just vigilantism.
Secondly, the logistics. LeT is the militant wing of the Markaz Dawa-wal-Arshad located near
. Its finances are drawn from
and other Middle Eastern countries. It has some 600 hardcore militants fighting in the
valley, with hundreds of others getting trained in
. With a constant source of manpower and sophisticated weapons, the LeT has proved to be a deadly force, even when pitted against the Indian Army and Paramilitary Forces operating in
. That the Shivba should contemplate confronting LeT, not only in
but also in other areas including
, is intriguing. Obviously, to confront the LeT requires similar, if not more resources, especially in the area of sophisticated arms. And, the founders’ optimism that they would be able to quickly acquire the necessary resources, manpower and intelligence network needs to be noted with concern, particularly the implications of such an armed group operating in the region.
has been the hotbed of communal tensions in the recent past and the last thing wanted is an armed group with a ‘militant Hindutva’ ideology and communal agenda. The Shiv Sena has already played a role in increasing the level of communal intolerance in the region, and
has still not healed from the riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Any move towards making the Shivba operational would only lead to the mushrooming of other groups based on communal lines. The caste armies in
, operating outside the control of the police machinery in the state, highlights why forming armed groups against militants, secessionists or criminals needs to be nipped at the bud. In democracies there is an established machinery for handling issues of national security. They should be left to do their job without interference from organizations like the Lashkar-e-Shivba.