Some simple steps to check terror

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Kunal Biswas, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

    May 26, 2010
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    Some simple steps to check terror

    By Colonel Anil Athale
    March 12, 2010

    As a student of insurgency and terrorism worldwide (Kashmir, Sri Lanka, North Eastern India, Chhatisgarh, Northern Ireland and South Africa) for over 25 years, I must confess that the Indian scenario is rather distressing.

    We seem to have outdone ostrich in burying our heads in sands of time, and in learning nothing from our own history. The two factors behind this are weakness of leadership and the apathy of the common people. Political correctness and inability to face the truth have hobbled our approach to this menace that if not controlled will eventually destroy our economy and derail our ambition to become a developed country.

    From the analysis of attacks by terrorists over the last two or three years, it is clear that they seek soft target and maximum kills. The Home Minister has publicly come to the same conclusion.

    Now if crowded places, malls, temples, railway stations or any place where large number of people gather are on the terrorist’s radar, then their number would be at least around 800,000 across India. To post policemen to guard these places (with at least 10 men) we would need a police force several times the present number, only doing chowkidari. Since this is obviously impossible, we can safely conclude that there is no real defence against terrorism of this kind.

    Besides posting chowkidars all over the country (usually after an attack), the other aspect of our method of tackling this problem is the ‘Post Mortem Approach’. We come into action after an event, collect evidence, try to identify and then nab the culprits, which is usually an exercise in futility.

    In the past 20 years, we have not had a single case of an attack being thwarted at the planning stage and the conspirators being punished. This is like training doctors who can only dissect dead bodies and can neither prevent an illness nor cure it. Is it then any wonder that like the famous brand of plywood and court trials, terrorism in India is a case of chalta rahe …chalta rahe (goes on and on)?

    The terrorism that India faces has two clear sources: organisations based in Pakistan (with or without government support) and their domestic followers misled by factors like religious affinity, separatism & secession and utopian Marxism or Maoism.

    The recent open statements by the Jihadi leaders in Pakistan, threatening sporting events all over India and accusing India of ‘stealing rivers’ etc shows the depth and nature of this threat. It is an undeclared war.

    Domestically, besides the appeal to religion, thanks to the `secular` Indian media, a persistent narrative of oppression has been created. In addition, there is the indoctrination by religious seminaries that India, their land of birth, is Dar Ul Harab or enemy country. This absolves the local traitor of any feeling of guilt in betraying his own country.

    In the case of secessionists as well, a false sense of victimhood has been created in Assam. In the case of Naxalites, on one hand their leaders mouth slogans of ‘social justice’ and the oppression of the poor tribals. On the other, they hand go round blowing up schools, hospitals and roads and thwart any attempts to take development to the tribals.

    In a meeting with a Naxalite undergoing life term in Chhatisgarh in July 2006, I raised these very issues with him. His answer was revealing, “ We are not interested in tribals, our aim is to overthrow the present govt and bring in people’s republic. Tribals are a means to an end.” Let the government not say it wasn’t warned.

    Dealing with external terror is complicated by the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and our attempt to take out the terrorists based there entails the risk of escalation to nuclear conflict. Pakistan has been skillfully exploiting this factor to stymie any Indian reaction.

    Which is why we must an adopt indirect approach, which essentially involves paying Pakistan back in the same coin, covertly. Keeping Pakistan destabilized is good for us. In addition we have to follow a strategy of ‘isolation and containment’ in all its aspects. Our attempts at ‘engagement” over the past 11 years have produced no results. It is time we implement a policy of ‘containment’ for some time to pressure the Pakistani civil society to deal with extremists in their midst. The contacts with Pakistan have to be at the minimum level of avoiding war. The time is not ripe for conflict resolution.

    Domestically, we have to have a special law to deal with terror conspiracies and arrest and punish would be terrorists before they strike. Our Home Minister is an eminent lawyer, and I am sure he can conjure up a suitable law that has safeguards against misuse. From Morocco to Indonesia, every single country (including Pakistan) have special anti terror laws. We have seen how the UK, Spain, and the US have arrested and sentenced people for conspiring to commit terror acts. Can those who oppose an anti- terror law point to single instance in the last 20 years that we have been able to nab and punish terrorists before the act?

    Even after a terror strike it is difficult to convict and punish a terrorist as the Qasab trial shows. It needs to be reiterated that the murderers of lat Rajiv Gandhi or the guilty for attack on Parliament and Mumbai blasts of 1993 could only be punished under the now extinct POTA/TADA, both special laws. In the absence of this, the perpetrators of Mumbai train blasts of 2006 and countless other terror acts are never going to be caught or punished.

    In addition to these measures, like in Bihar (where the law and order has dramatically improved) we need to have stringent laws against the possession of illegal arms and explosives and implement it ruthlessly. If done properly, the terrorist may have the intent but will lack the means to carry out acts of terror.

    This measure is a secular one and makes no distinction between an Islamist, Hindu fanatic, Naxalite or Assam secessionist. A minimum mandatory jail sentence of 10 years with no exceptions or parole could do the trick.

    These are simple and logical measures to deal with terrorism menace. If these are not being thought out or implemented, then one has to come to sad conclusion that behind their Z-Plus security, the politicians are not interested in safety and security of ordinary citizens.

    ¤ Colonel (Dr) Anil Athale has studied the insurgencies in Kashmir, North East, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Chhatisgarh. As a former infantry officer he has also participated in counter insurgency operations. He is a former fellow of the United Service Institution, Delhi and the co-ordinator of Inpad, a Pune-based think tank.

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  3. Virendra

    Virendra Moderator Moderator

    Oct 16, 2010
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    Delhi, India, India
    Alert civic sense in the general public and better surveillance via CCTVs - these two could help a lot.
    Illegal arms possession should be curbed and the common citizenry (without criminal/psychological records) should be legally armed for self defense. Not like the 26/11 massacre.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011

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