The devastatingly stunning impact in the immediate aftermath of the Nagrota terrorist attack evoked awe and shock- besides rushing the intelligence agencies to undertake an in-depth probe as to how the terrorists accessed their target destination i.e. whether the terrorists had journeyed through Kashmir, or, had infiltrated through the border fence at the LoC- or, through the international border in Jammu, did they make their way through a tunnel? How is it they remained unnoticed and therefore, unchallenged, till arriving at the site? How were they able to obtain fatigues authourised for security personnel?
Post the Nagrota attack when it was found the that there weren’t any breaches in the barbed wire fencing-searches were made to find out what possible alternate means the terrorists could have adopted to access the spot…
BSF officials had discovered a 80 meter long tunnel running across the India-Pakistan international border at Chamliyal. This discovery was made while some infiltrators were attempting to stage an attack near Samba. Post the Nagrota attack when it was found the that there weren’t any breaches in the barbed wire fencing-searches were made to find out what possible alternate means the terrorists could have adopted to access the spot. In this process the 80 meter long tunnel was discovered.
While the armed terrorists are more than adequately prepared to successfully surmount any challenge from the Indian side and also fearlessly face death –believing that 1000 beautiful fairies will keep them company in the afterlife and Pakistan will bestow them with money, name and fame, regardless of whether they live or die. If they live their handlers and the ISI will glorify them- and if they die they would have obtained “ shahadat “ by fighting jihad- and those in sympathy to their cause, will provide them sufficient money for the sustenance of their families.
The sole motivation for the Indian jawan, on the other hand, by putting his life on the line, is to protect national honour – and thereby ensure that individuals, institutions and the noble and lofty values the nation holds, are firewalled against any breach.
This is the reason the martyrdom of our men while protecting the border is honoured in a big way by the entire nation, while Pakistan doesn’t even bother to take back the bodies of its dead soldiers. How shameful is that, but Pakistan, as has been proven time and again, knows no shame, or, perhaps the word “shame“ is not in its lexicon.
Assuming that the terrorists used tunnels to access their target zone-it poses technical challenges for India- since tunnels could very often be difficult to locate…
Be that as it may, the lamentable issue on our side is our unwillingness or, negligence in putting into action the preventable, or even the remedial measures, to firewall ourselves against such attacks. There was very little follow up action to the comprehensive recommendations of the Tri-service Committee led by Lt.Gen Philip Campose-which was constituted after the Jan 2, 2016 terror strike on the Pathankot air base. The terms of reference of these recommendations which among others covered ; measures to ensure the security of defence establishments ; standard operating procedures and a thorough probe in the efficacy, or, the lack of it, of the Defence Security Force, and technological measures to thwart the evil designs of Pak sponsored terrorists entering India across the LoC, or the international border, or accessing the terror site from within J&K, or from any other region within India.
Could Tunnels have been the Access Conduit for the Nagrota Terrorists?
Assuming that the terrorists used tunnels to access their target zone-it poses technical challenges for India- since tunnels could very often be difficult to locate and also pose difficulties in destroying them, besides a sizable part of the area of the tunnel commencing from its mouth may be lying in enemy territory.
Time and again, a sizable portion of Israel has been threatened by the Gaza’s Hamas who have constructed numerous tunnels linking Sinai in Egypt to the GAZA strip. Israel has been subjected to audacious attacks through the tunnels. At their peak the tunnels which are said to have been 500 in number , contributed $ 700 million to Gaza’s economy and provided employment to about 7000 people. In 2006 terrorists belonging to Hamas captured Gilad Schalit an Israeli soldier and brought him to Gaza – where he was kept imprisoned for five years.
At the time of the Operation Cast Lead in 2009 technical teams led by researchers Dr. Raphael Linker and Dr. Assaf Klar were developing a system that uses a fiber-optic cable one or two meters below the surface to detect underground movement.
All such activities were relatively easy to be carried out by Hamas and their sympathizers because the authorities in Egypt had not been fully cooperating with the Israelis.
While there is no single fool proof solution for finding out the precise location of such tunnels- a combination of several techniques using Electrical Resistance Tomography (ERT)- in lay man’s language , a sort of MRI for below the surface exploration has been adopted with a fairly high degree of success
At the time of the Operation Cast Lead in 2009 technical teams led by researchers Dr. Raphael Linker and Dr. Assaf Klar were developing a system that uses a fiber-optic cable one or two meters below the surface to detect underground movement. This system builds what is essentially an underground fence using BOTDR (Brillouin Optical Time Domain Reflectometry) 1 –this procedure measures the stress of the cable underground –it is estimated that one device can monitor about 30 kilometers of the border. A similar technique called Multi-Channel Analysis of Sound Waves (MASW) has been successfully deployed on the US-Mexico and North Korea-South Korea borders.
The Director General of the BSF Mr.K.K.Sharma has in a press briefing stated that India will have a patrol free multi-layer smart fence along the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders by the second half of 2017. Of course, there is no gainsaying that such an exercise would be utterly futile if the technology proves ineffective for one reason or the other and disappointing if the time deadline can’t be met.
Border fencing is being fortified through the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management (CIBMS)
According to the DG BSF twenty big firms are currently conducting a technical evaluation for CIBMS and there are pilot projects in progress in the States of J&K; Punjab and Gujarat.
CIBMS essentially involves the usage of surveillance radars, satellite imagery and thermal gadgets. Such techniques get a multiplier effect by having laser fencing.
According to the DG BSF twenty big firms are currently conducting a technical evaluation for CIBMS and there are pilot projects in progress in the States of J&K ; Punjab and Gujarat.
India’s security agencies will do well to adopt the geo-physics technologies given in this article for discovering tunnels by obtaining the technical know how from the US and Israel, or, from other sources including resource persons / institutions and bodies like the NGRI (National Geophysical Research Institute) Needless to say, that the discovery of tunnels at vulnerable points can help prevent crime besides preventing what generally happens i.e. terrorists attacking India through tunnels, at their sweet will.
- There are many research papers by scholars of geophysics on this subject. BOTDR explains among other aspects – the relation between lattice planes and reciprocal lattice vectors by sensitive optical fibers.