US top spy agency warns about strong possibility of communal violence ahead of Lok Sabha polls in India, if the ruling BJP stresses on Hindu nationalist.
This information was provided to the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Dan Coasts, Director of National Intelligence, providing a written statement assessing the possible threats worldwide in 2019.
In his report, he said that 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 and heads of other top American intelligence agencies appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to present their worldwide threat assessment. Prominent among them included 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 added.
He also express fear that increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence.
Coats in his written statement 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 added.