India May See Communal Violence Before Lok Sabha Polls, Warns US Spymaster

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America’s top spymaster Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence. — File photo

BJP policies during Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states,” Coats said in his written statement

Web Report

NEW DELHI — There is a strong possibility of communal violence in India if the ruling BJP stresses on Hindu nationalist themes ahead of the general election due by April/May, America’s top spymaster told US lawmakers on Tuesday.

This comment on the upcoming general election in India is part of the US intelligence community’s assessment of worldwide threats in the year 2019.

The assessment was presented in the form of a written document to the 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, according to reports.

Coats made this assessment with the assistance of a few other prominent members, including 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 by May.

Coats also warns of a strained 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.

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