Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ways to tackle terrorism

by Joginder Singh

We are entering a new era in which the entire concept of security has changed drastically. The new concept also embraces security of people and not just of territories or nations. In terrorism, violence is intentional and used as a means to achieve political ends.

Government and terrorists are constantly engaged in a predictable conflict in which each side tries to influence or control the activities of the other. Terrorism is nothing but a violent method of coercion, a process of wrangling based on power to hurt and intimidate the other party.

The objective of terrorism is to bring change in a government's political position vis-à-vis the demands of terrorists. If opportunity permits, the terrorists would also aim at the destruction of military establishment.

Terrorists bank on the element of surprise and select an appropriate time. It is usually when the defenders are least expecting an attack and have least knowledge of terrorists' intentions and capabilities. Therefore, the government can ill afford to let its guard down.

The terrorists generally select urban locations to strike, which makes for a spectacular impact. Hence London, New York, Parliament House in Delhi or attack on Ram temple at Ayodhya. These days most terrorist attempts are suicide attacks. Today terrorists are not only educated but also technology savvy. Terrorism, in different guises, is raising its head in Punjab, the Northeast and States like Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.

Moreover, what might be a matter of life and death for India many not necessarily be so for other countries. In October 2003 British Prime Minister Tony Blair had said to the then Indian Prime Minister that Kashmir (a terrorist-infested area) was not a priority in the US-led war against global terror.

Of course, he sugar-coated the blunt message with the usual verbal assurances about how India was a "vital member in the international coalition against terrorism and how cross-border terrorism would be taken up later on." He used the right phrases and platitudes about India's "political maturity" and its "statesman-like stature".

Post-London explosions, one can only hope that he has learnt his lessons, and that Great Britain is equally susceptible to the horrors that India has been exposed to for decades.

Actually, so many terrorist attacks have taken place that a kind of ennui has set in among people. The other major problem is the lack of specific and sharp intelligence. As it was evident in Kargil, the country's intelligence was unaware of Pakistani-sponsored terrorists infiltrating into Indian territory for months together.

A plethora of intelligence agencies exist such as the Army's Defence Intelligence Agency and other civilian wings like the Intelligence Bureau, R&AW, State CID and Intelligence. Paramilitary forces like the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police, and others have their own intelligence wings. Rarely, do senior officers go to field to collect intelligence information. These agencies have a norm that intelligence would be gathered by officers only up till the level of DSP.

The other major reason for failure in dealing with terrorism is the lack of consistent government policy. Each time the security forces succeed in strengthening their positions through sustained anti-terrorism drive, somebody pipes up to say, "Let us be charitable." The Government of India has twice in the past announced unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir

It proclaimed that no action would be taken against terrorists if they surrendered. With such an approach, all efforts made by the security forces came to naught these were sacrificed at the altar of ill-conceived political initiatives. However, it must be borne in mind that at no time had the terrorists asked for the ceasefire or that the security forces should stop action against them.

Let us not be misled about the intentions of the terrorists. In J&K they resorted to ethnic cleansing which resulted in the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs from the Valley. They were forced to migrate to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of India. The Sikh terrorists, before they were eliminated, had a similar aim.

The terrorists have a regular system of training as the following extract from a manual of a terrorist organisation reveals, "When arrested, the volunteer will... feel that he has failed, resulting in a deep sense of disappointment. The police are aware of this disappointment and act upon this weakness by insults... " Further:

"The most important thing to bear in mind when arrested is that you are a volunteer of a revolutionary organisation, that you have been captured by an enemy force, that your cause is a just one, that you are right and that the enemy is wrong and that as a soldier you have taken the chance expected of a soldier and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in capture.

"You must bear in mind that the treatment meted out to you is designed to break you and bleed you of all the information you may have with regard to the organisation to which you belong.

"They will attempt to intimidate you by sheer force of numbers and by brutality. Volunteers who may feel disappointed are entering the first dangerous threshold because the police will act on this disappointment...

"The purpose of an interrogation is to get a confession; if the interrogators knew what they were searching for there would be no need for questioning; therefore, interrogation is necessary only when the police is unaware of information which would lead to conviction. The best way to ward it off is to 'say nothing'...

All police forces start from a strong suspicion or a clue, therefore when a volunteer is arrested, they strive to build on that clue and the only way that can be done is by obtaining information from their victim."

These are some of the points emphasised in the terrorist camps in Pakistan. There are 29 which operate in PoK, 15 in North West Frontier Provinces, three in Northern Areas and seven in Pakistan's Punjab. They are the largest suppliers of terrorists all over the world - whether London or elsewhere.

Managing internal security of the country and dealing with terrorist groups in its different parts requires a high degree of preparedness. There is no limit to the kind of weapons and tricks which the terrorists might use.

Apart from conventional weapons like rifles and grenades, there is no knowing as to when they may use nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The problem is that governments everywhere traditionally respond slowly. Many a time, they have responded well after the disasters have struck.

What is the use of having a Government or laws if they cannot prevent the terrorists from having an influence over any area in the country? The latest incidents in Srinagar and Doda indicate that it is not the Government but writ of the terrorist outfits which runs there. At present there are no specific laws to deal with terrorists as POTA has been struck off the statute book.

One cannot expect people to watch the activities of the terrorists in silence in terror-prone areas. At the same time, it is unlikely that they would be keen to expose themselves to the wrath of terrorists or even the legal delays in bringing the culprit to book.

What is meant is that the war against terror cannot succeed unless the security forces have the support of the local people in terrorist infested areas. Punjab militancy is a good example. Unless there is greater cooperation from the people living in such regions, success will be limited. At present it is difficult to guess how many more acts of terror will force the government out of its slumber.

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