Home arrow Archives arrow Political Diary arrow Political Diary 2006 arrow YAWN, WHAT’S NEW?:INTERNAL SECURITY REVIEWED AGAIN, by Poonam I Kaushish,10 September 2006
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YAWN, WHAT’S NEW?:INTERNAL SECURITY REVIEWED AGAIN, by Poonam I Kaushish,10 September 2006 Print E-mail


NEW DELHI, 10 September 2006



By Poonam I Kaushish

Yawn! Yet another meeting on internal security.  Reflecting once more a seminarian approach.  The same monotonous actions and reactions, with minor changes of a comma here and a full stop there. All to make it appear something spanking new and different. Of a Government on the ball, talking and acting tough. Really? As the old saying goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Indeed, talk of terror and more terror has become a big, big yawn.

Sitting in New Delhi’s sanitized environs of 7 Race Course Road (Prime Minister’s residence) Manmohan Singh and the Chief Ministers knocked their heads together to find a solution for putting a stop to the shocking internal security failures and the consequent threat that gravely looms large over the country. “We have to meet these threats firmly, with determination and with a will to destroy,” he asserted. His remedy? Marshal resources. Nothing more nothing less.

How? By setting up an Empowered Group of Union Ministers and some Chief Ministers to “closely monitor the spread of the terror and the Naxalite movement, improving intelligence generation and collection, as also the overall strengthening of your intelligence mechanism." Adding, "We need a blend of firm, but sophisticated, handling of Naxalite violence with sensitive handling of the developmental aspects. Chief Ministers must personally take in hand what deliverables are possible even while preparing to meet Naxalite violence through effective law and order measures.”

So far so good. But rewind. Didn’t the Prime Minister speak more or less the same words three months ago at a similar conference with the Chief Ministers. When he made a strong pitch for more of the same---- effective police response, effective intelligence gathering, increasing the financial allocation for anti-Naxal and anti-terrorist operations and a multi-pronged strategy with an emphasis on socio-economic development. His message could not have been blunter: Treat this as “high priority.” Result? Scandalously, the States gave short shrift to his wise words. Leading to this meeting and the same ghisa-pitta Government reaction.

Sadly, instead of taking the States to task for their lackadaisical approach to the gravest challenge to India’s internal security – terror from across the border and Naxalites---the Prime Minister, as in the past, once more droned like a screechy worn-out record, “The terrorist modules are instigated, inspired and supported by elements from across the border….if these are not controlled it would be exceedingly difficult to carry forward the peace process.” Brave words, indeed. Yet, he is all set to hold another guftagu with Musharraf on the sidelines of the NAM Summit in Havana.

Mumbai, Srinagar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh…The tandav of death terror list is unending. None knows where the next hit would be simply because our intelligence sucks. Think. This low cost proxy war has already cost India more than 62,000 civilians and 10,000 security personnel since terrorist activities started in India. Statistics show that Naxalism is presently casting a shadow over 17 States in the country,170 districts and 40 per cent of terrain where the Government’s writ no longer runs. And out of the total of 12,476 police stations, Naxal violence was reported from 509 police stations in 11 States last year.

More. The CPI (Maoist) is trying to increase its influence and activity in parts of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal and also in new areas in some of the already affected States. With the help from Pakistan’s ISI which is giving financial support to the militant groups all over the country. A “Red Brigade” corridor runs through the entire length of the country, from  Nepal’s Maoists to Sri Lanka’s LTTE and encompasses the North-East’s ULFA. What to say of the Lakshar-e-Taiyyaba, Harkut-ul–Ansar et al.

Several measures need to be taken to tackle the menace. One, the lacunae in the Naxal’s ideological framework and simultaneously launch a political offensive with a humanistic vision has to be exposed. Two, the distortions in the social system need to be tackled on a war footing, to alleviate poverty, ensure speedy development and enforce law and order strictly. Three, take up land reforms with a fresh revolutionary zeal and approach. Look at the present dichotomy. With a majority of India’s population engaged in agricultural pursuits, one would expect the tillers to be rich. Instead, they are not only poor but continue to be at the mercy of the rich landlords.

This provides the Naxals a perfect opening to wean away the agricultural labourers with the promise of not only getting them their rightful dues in terms of wages but also getting them confiscated surplus land from the landlords for distribution it among the landless labourers. It also laid the ground for running a parallel government in remote areas, conducting people's courts, extorting money from "landlords" and distributing booty among the poor a la Robin Hood. Simplistically, the Naxal USP is that they have sold the poor the pipe dream of breaking up large feudal landholdings and dividing the surplus land among the poor. Successive governments at the Centre and in the States have lacked the political courage to do so. This is no longer acceptable to downtrodden who now demand the end of oppression and exploitation.

More. There is an urgent need for the badly-affected States to undertake joint operations and set up joint unified commands for continuous monitoring of the arms profile of various Naxal groups, as the Prime Minister highlighted during his meeting with the CMs. Urgently needed alongwith this, is identification of sources and networks, coordinated intelligence gathering, and a well-equipped police force, if this grave security threat is to be combatted. 

The Prime Minister is correct when he asserts that an efficient and vigilant police could surely prove to be an effective deterrent to the terrorists in any mohalla, district or the State. A well-equipped police force alone can be effective in intelligence gathering. From the beat constable right up to the Director General of Police. But do we have such a force? No. Are we taking measures to build one? No, again.

Look at two absurdities. The national average of the police-population ratio is about 1.3 policemen per 10,000 citizens. Yet in Bihar, a Naxal-prone State, the ratio of policemen to the public per 10,000 is a meagre 0.9 i.e hardly one policeman for 10,000 people. With the result that times out of number, the police and civil administration are missing in the Naxal areas. Gujarat, not only lacks an anti-terrorist and detection squad but the Government Railway Police (GRP) still works on a staff strength sanctioned in 1962, despite increasing vulnerability of its railway stations. The State has around 500 policemen as against the sanctioned strength of 1,940 in the State.

Thus, there is need to strengthen the local police on all fronts --- and ensure that it is better trained and equipped, with improved weapons and greater mobility. Competent officers should be posted in the affected districts and given a stable tenure of at least 2 to 3 years to make a difference. Over-centralisation should be replaced by decentralization and functional autonomy to the police from the Thana level onwards and their goals and objective set with the cooperation and consultation of the local population.  A properly structured and representative body of local residents should be associated with setting priorities and goals as also monitoring.

New Delhi fails to realize that normal deterrence doesn’t work against a faceless and fearless enemy who has no borders and no scruples. When the State’s existence is in peril, the only way to hit back is to carry the fight into the enemy camp effectively. It is not enough to assert ‘we have might and muscle. One has to display that power.

The tragedy is that government after government continue to miss the wood for the trees. The terrorist is an invisible enemy who uses our resources, freedom and laxities to hit at us. Adept in exploiting the latest communication technologies, he identifies and exploits our weakness. While we talk, he acts. Inflicting maximum loss at minimum cost. All at our expense.

Add to this an effete polity bereft of any out-of-the-box ideas, wallowing inane, obsolete and muddle-headed formulations to complex and important strategic issues. Resulting in a complete paralyses in policy-making and the operational command of enforcement and security agencies. Addressing which has become critical within the context of relentless, utterly unscrupulous and unconstrained movements of terrorism within India.

In sum, terrorism is no longer terror in someone else’s backyard. Or, the prerogative of spy thrillers. Malegaon’s horrendous blasts on Friday last is a case in point.  New Delhi must stop groping in the dark and face the reality. Terrorists and so-called jehadis are not liquidated through battles of the mind but by cold-blooded wars of flesh and blood. Remember, when our liberalism and freedom becomes the enemy’s Kalashnikov, it is time for India to wake up, think beyond the headlines do some honest soul searching and act decisively.  --- INFA

(Copyright India News and Feature Alliance)



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