Homeland Security

Politics at the Cost of India's Security
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 13 Oct , 2010

The indifference and lack of understanding amongst the country’s political leadership on matters relating to national security has been a part of our national culture. Several reasons could be ascribed to this phenomenon.

The entire discourse on security issues got skewed right from the time of independence primarily owing to the exaggerations and untruths that were bandied about the great struggle, sufferings and sacrifices of our political leaders in driving the British out. The fact, however unpalatable is that between 1920 and 1947, the occasions wherein the people of this country could be mobilized in any organized manner against the British rule, can be counted with some difficulty. That India achieved Independence without much bloodshed cannot be disputed. It is also true that the British left, as they did during that period from most colonies, and were not driven out.

The British rulers were able to rule this country because they treated the military and the police as complementary.

The same leaders who claimed to have suffered and sacrificed so much in the independence struggle, in their new avatars as ministers and professional politicians became most callous and corrupt. It was because, to begin with, their heart did not lie in the welfare and uplift of the people the served. To legimitise their claim over rewards of office they created such a halo about their mythical sacrifices that they felt threatened by the respect, efficiency and integrity of the Army, and the relative impartiality of the police. Therefore, they began to subvert the security apparatus.

Security of the country and its people over a period of time became a non-issue for the politicians and their own security, and the security of their family attained primacy.

After the war with Pakistan in Kashmir in 1947-48, the Army began to be tolerated as a necessary evil. Earlier, Nehru had maintained that he could do away with the Army and ensure the security and integrity of India by just by the Police.

The British rulers were able to rule this country because they treated the military and the police as complementary. Whenever the police found itself unequal to the internal situation, the military stepped in. There was no procrastination and there were no political fiefdoms.

Post-independence, however, the political class began to treat the Police as personal fiefdom. The police was only too willing to play this role and partake in the new feudal arrangement scripted by the self-serving politicians.

The result of “˜personal-oriented-security was the politicization of the police. The police too began to exploit the symbiotic patron-client relationship.

The result of ‘personal-oriented-security’ was the politicization of the police. The police too began to exploit the symbiotic patron-client relationship. Vote-bank politics infused a huge financial element in this relationship. Terms like ‘lucrative postings’ and ‘shunting posts’ came into being.

In order to escape the wrath and victimization by inconvenient governments, the police then sought to increase its avenues at the central government level, i.e. R&AW, IB, CBI, CISF, BSF, NTRO and the latest being the National Investigative Agency (NIA). It is the same manifestation that we are witnessing in West Bengal. Some police officers, who ingratiated themselves to the CPM government, which they considered as immortal, are suddenly unnerved by the prospect of a Mamta led government in the state.

A large number of West Bengal cadre police officers, are using every leverage to find shelter in the central agencies. Can these very officers, who are responsible for the total degeneration of security and governance in the state, make any contribution to national security? This is the question, which needs to be urgently addressed by the Home Minister.

The para-military forces have a fair share of such officers. It is therefore no surprise that the CRPF is proving unequal to the military challenge posed by the Maoists. One cannot create ‘fighters’ out of personnel, bred in the police culture, in the Indian context.

The politician-police equation resulted in the urban orientation of the police officers. Even as the population grew many times, the police setup in the rural areas remained the same.

The political leadership did not have the imagination and the intention to preserve the good and fair aspects of the British pattern of policing and change the colonial aspects that were contrary to the dignity and aspirations of the people. The fact of the matter is that they were so overawed by the colonial dispensation and colonial bungalows that moving into them became their ultimate ambition. The police on the other hand had a vested interest, in terms of pelf and power, to extend its reach and influence in newer areas of security and administration.

Meanwhile, the policing system in the rural areas instead of improving, began to disappear. The state apparatus of governance, which includes the lower level bureaucracy, judiciary and other services like health, education and banking etc. began to retreat because of lack of security. Some of the personnel of this state apparatus compromised with the situation and began to rely on mafias, criminal syndicates and insurgent groups for protection.

The situation now has become alarming. More than 80 police personnel (Sub Inspectors) in Maharastra have not reported so far to their new place of postings because they happen to be in Maoist infested areas. Bank employees are refusing to move on postings to the areas in Red Corridor. Significantly, some individuals selected by the State Public Service Commission for appointment as DSPs in Jharkhand have preferred to remain unemployed rather than joining the police service because of the perceived threat to their lives owing to the Maoist insurgency.

the Prime Minister and the Home Minister must ponder over the question: whether or not it amounts to sedition when a politicians conscious political posturing becomes suicidal to the integrity of India and security of its law abiding citizens?

As a result, the writ of the state has ceased to operate in large parts of the Red Corridor and the Maoists are the new masters. No activity in this area can be conducted without being subjected to the taxation system of the Maoists.

This author is in possession of the latest directive of the Maoists issued by their Special Area Committee – SAC (Jharkhand & Bihar) on the rates of tax to be levied for developmental works by the government and private agencies. These are:- Un-metalled Road-10%; Village Road-7%; Bridge-5%; Check Dams & Canals-5%; (Note: Flexibility can be exercised for irrigation projects.); Big buildings-7%; Community Hall (Aanganwari)-7%; Railway Track Repair-5%; Railway Auctions-10%; Brick Kilns 50,000/- annually; Petrol Pump 25,000/- annually; Hill (1 x 1 Km) on lease 1,00,000/- annually; Bauxite Mines 6/- – 10/- per tonne; Coal siding 70,000/- annually; Sale of coal locally 12/- per tonne…

It can be seen that Mamta’s railway ministry is no less impacted by this tax regime of Maoists. It is therefore strange that she has picked up cudgels on behalf of the Maoists in demanding the cessation of ‘Operation Green Hunt’.

Similarly, the timing and tenor of Omar Abdullah’s ‘accession and merger’ rhetoric is rather queer and so is his demand for removal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

The politicians and particularly the Chief Minister cannot be seen in adversarial relationship with the security forces. It has happened on earlier occasions as well, the most glaring being the stance of a Chief Minister during the IPKF induction in Tamil Nadu.

The politicians have the luxury to indulge in politicking and diatribes against the security forces because they are protected by the same elements in some form or the other. They must realise:

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us the freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us the freedom of speech.

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians
That ensures our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag.

(Author -Anonymous)

If the Indian Army had not saved Kashmir, the young Omar Abdullah would not have been a Chief Minister. If the IPKF had not gone to Sri Lanka, parts of Tamil Nadu would have become virtual LTTE colonies, and now if ‘Operation Green Hunt’ is called off, the biggest victim of the Maoists will be ‘Mamta led government’, in case if it assumes power following election next year.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister must ponder over the question: whether or not it amounts to sedition when a politician’s conscious political posturing becomes suicidal to the integrity of India and security of its law abiding citizens?

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

RSN Singh

is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW and author of books Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and The Military Factor in Pakistan. His latest book is The Unmaking of Nepal.

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