The term ‘internal security’ needs to be taken with a pinch of salt with borderless proxy wars, terrorism, optimization of internet by tech savvy terrorists and more such reasons. Nations need dynamic policies that are reviewed, monitoring ongoing developments. With state sponsored terrorism seething in South Asia and the Subcontinent, defence and internal security will remain inexorably linked. The question is often asked whether India has a national security strategy and the cover of the RM’s Directive is taken at times. But then Narasimha Rao as the PM admitted to Parliament in 1995 that while there was no document called ‘National Defence Policy’, several “guidelines” are followed – talk of adhocism! Little wonder then that Narasimha Rao as PM and EAM without consulting MEA told Pakistanis that India would withdraw from the Saltoro Range, without a thought to what would be the next line of defence and more importantly strategic disadvantages of such suicide. But then we never undertook a comprehensive defence review, relying on sundry committees whose recommendations are partially implemented or dumped. Whether we have a comprehensive internal security policy or are again relying on some ‘guidelines’ as in the case of defence remains a mystery but certainly recent events indicate many chinks and lack of proper assessment in the short, medium and long terms that would have helped us remain focused on what changes in policy are warranted.
Roll back two months and view perception building galore of normalcy returning to J&K; carefully orchestrated media plus scholars of all hues. This, ignoring that Pakistani military increasingly was using terror as its policy, Chinese funding J&K terrorists, increased Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks in Afghanistan, recent incidents in Handwara, Pampore, so on and so forth. Many CRPF bunkers were removed in Srinagar area exposing security forces and making protection of passing vehicles difficult, the J&K CM met the Army Chief exhorting Army presence should be reduced. There was talk of removing / toning down AFSPA and return of Kashmiri Pundits. All this while ISIS and Pakistan flags were being waived and hoisted periodically in the Valley and Hurriyat separatists were visiting and getting briefed by Abdul Basit at the Pakistani High Commission. Undoubtedly, our policy in context of such meetings has been erratic, rather pathetic, but word was spread our intelligence agencies see no harm in such meetings. Is this the case or is it bureaucratic recommendation with vested agenda? If indeed it is advice of intelligence sleuths, what do these holy cows know about separatists in Pakistan and what are they doing about it? Going by the money that is being splurged on these separatists contributing to their lives of luxury and security, are we cocooned in a time-wrap feeding these anti-nationals, akin to the US administration funding and arming Pakistani military despite exporting terror? According to 2015 media reports, the J&K Government spent over Rs 506 crore on Hurriyat separatist in last five years including travel, hotel stay and meetings with Abdul Basit and his cohorts at Delhi. In addition, the Centre reportedly spent around Rs 7207 crore on security related issues – and Hillary Clinton once accused Pakistan of breeding snakes in the backyard! Why does separatists’ hand-in-glove with terrorists need security in the first place?
What an irony that Bangladesh had to ask India to probe Zakir Naik while UK and Canada had already banned this radical. A former Commissioner of Police of Pune says in 2008 he had sent a detailed report on activities and questionable funding of Zakir Naik but the government took no action. The media has promptly termed his statement as “Zakir Naik controversy has taken a political turn” rather than commenting why such a report was buried and by whom. According to media, the IB too had sent a report on this radical to MHA but latter simply sat on it. How is it we are discovering now that this radical’s ‘Peace TV’ is linked to Pakistan’s ISI and the LeT? Where were those intelligence sleuths who say no harm in Abdul Basit sleeping with separatists? But why Zakir Naik alone, what about the numerous other anti-national elements periodically poisoning society with their vitriolic in public? The Hurriyat separatists live in luxury beyond their means, frequent the Pakistani High Commission at New Delhi, regularly spew venom against India in public inciting youth and operate anti-India websites. Certainly Bangladesh is not going to ask us to probe them.
Let us now look at the killing of hardcore terrorist Burhan Wani, the poster boy of HuM who incidentally was the last of the above group to be wiped out. It is being reported that there was evidence he was planning a big strike in South Kashmir that led to his killing. Obviously intelligence of the location of his hideout where he was killed may have come last minute, but the fact that he was planning the big strike must have been known to intelligence agencies for some time. So the question arises is was any assessment done as to what would be the aftermath rather than the state machinery going into rigor mortis after he was killed – was this deliberate?
The number of killed presently at 23 will most likely go higher with Hurriyat leaders and mosques inciting youth to violence. So was it mere coincidence that hundreds of stone-pelters were given amnesty under pretext of Eid, to be back on the streets for the same act within 3-4days? Even if Wani was not killed, there was intelligence of him undertaking something big in South Kashmir, which would have called for action by security forces and follow up protests. So why release the stone-pelters at this juncture especially when there were indications they were operating in synch with the ISI when jailed? If their timed release is not a well thought out ISI-HuM which the state government acquiesced to (HuM-PDP limkd?), it certainly stinks.
It is the Parkinson’s at the state level that permitted gathering of hordes of marauders to gather and attack the police – could this have been avoided? If Wani was in jail, would he have not been hanged and quietly buried? If a terrorist has no religion, why permit this band-baja? Where in the world are terrorists being killed, handed over to families and given this type of send off? The Centre may be resolved that terrorists will continue to be targeted but what about the state government? The CM vows to probe whether security-men used excessive force but not a word against the mobsters attacking police, not even when policeman Afroz Ahmed with his vehicle were pushed in Jhelum, drowning him to death. Four-five armed terrorists present at the funeral of Burhan Wani reportedly fired in the air in salute. Has the state government identified these fellows? If the media was giving such a gala coverage to this terrorist, why were the state intelligence operatives not inside the crowd? Look at the political opportunism coming through the various political statements, vitiating the atmosphere further. There are conflicting news about the Amarnath Yatra suspended for 2-3 days, partially resumed etc. But which Amarnath Yatra has not been under terrorist threat since past decade and a half? This being the case, if the route has been secured, why suspend the yatra? What signal are we giving to the terrorists by suspending it for whatever time?
BBC, with its well known bias always refers to J&K as “India administered Kashmir”. Today they televise violence in J&K but nary the chance of covering the terror embrace in POK of Hafiz Saeed and Salauddin under tutelage of the Pakistani army. The regional media in J&K does the terrorist bidding but isn’t it disgraceful to see some our national dailies frontpaging Wani’s funeral as if he was some national hero. This is not mere sensationalism and TRPs related but has an insidiously seditious side to it. The cross-border and foreign funding of some of our journos and media houses have always been kept under wraps. Despite evidence of money flowing in to distort the Godhra incident, lies of purported army coup, Radia tapes, right down to the recent Westland Helicopter Scam (with many more in between), concerned journos have gone scot free and not even probed. This is where the Centre has continued to dither despite different governments. The issue to consider is whether anti-national elements should be permitted to continue in such manner regardless of consequences. Why are pro-Wani demonstrations being permitted at JNU and Hyderabad? Should not the subsidy in JNU be seriously reviewed if radicalism is being allowed to be bred? Is the government encouraging sedition through complacency? Why is the waiving of ISIS and Pakistani flags being permitted in J&K especially during Friday prayers? If any such activity would have occurred in China or Pakistan, the traitors simply would have been shot dead.
The irony in India is that on one hand we say that terrorists have no religion but we continue the policy of appeasement for vote-bank politicking – playing into the hands of Pakistan? Looking back over the years, it is quite apparent that a state like J&K is not interested to finish off lucrative industry like terrorism. It would be foolish to ignore the cross-border links of J&K politicians. It is the Centre that needs to work out a deliberate policy and enforce it rather than reacting in knee-jerk fashion. Some recent writings in our media recommend that our army must indulge in information operations but what has been elaborated merely boils down to perception management which by itself hardly constitutes information operations. Even in the case of perception management, what are the responsibilities of the Centre and concerned States? Or, is the army expected to fight a hostile media on all fronts, foreign, regional and national? Information operations must be all pervasive, not just defensive, but why is the Centre looking only inwards? Even in the case of intelligence are we not aware that Army’s Technical Support Division was shut down because it would have exposed the cross-border ISI, terror and narcotic smuggling links of certain politicians? The TSD’s job was counter-intelligence, covert operations and surveillance that brought significant reverses to ISI. The adverse impact of its closure is there to witness in J&K today. Yet despite the fact how the UPA government killed this vital capacity covered in open media in 2013, the present government has not had the will to resurrect it – is there a stink here too?
Recently, a SC bench rebutted the Attorney General’s arguments who opposed inquiry into alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur on the ground that a war-like situation had been prevailing in the state for long. The bench was obviously unaware how this inquiry was meddled with and delayed by the erstwhile government, and why? More significantly, the bench said, “Were such a blanket position accepted, it would reflect poorly on our armed forces that they were unable to effectively tackle a war-like situation for the last almost six decades”. With due respect to the judiciary this reflects gross misunderstanding of any insurgency, where the solution is never military. The armed forces only can keep the violence at certain level but the balance has to be done by the State, insurgency being a politico-socio-economic problem, not military. Sure the extra-judicial killings must be thoroughly probed and guilty punished but withdrawing the army from Manipur and lifting AFSPA will be the shortest method to play into the hands of the Chinese intelligence and Pakistan’s ISI. Finally, we fail to acknowledge that while both China and Pakistan have advanced sub-conventional capabilities which they are employing pro-actively against us, we are lagging woefully behind. Our response must be national, not through security forces alone. A proactive strategy needs to be put in place to deny a potential adversary from exploiting our own fault lines, and to take control of enemy fault-lines. There can be no shortcut to this.