Politicians had earlier used the triumphs of the armed forces like the Hyderabad Police Action, the liberation of Goa, the magnificent Bangladesh victory and the Kargil War to further their political agendas. However, for the first time, the army’s functioning has been used as a political tool in a negative sense.
Addressing an election rally in Srinagar last Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was the “wizardry of his government” that had forced the army to acknowledge for “the first time in 30 years” that its men were to blame for the killing of two teenagers in Budgam district on November 3.
The motive was obvious but the blatant injection of politics into the counter-insurgency campaign waged by the army has shocked the country. This statement gives an impression that the army functions in an autocratic manner; as a law unto itself paying no heed to human rights.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The army has always been known to follow the orders of the government of the day and to scrupulously adhere to the letter of the law.
Modi’s assertion is also factually incorrect. Over 150 personnel, including nearly 50 officers, have been punished for infractions while dealing with civilians. For the head of government to attack the army’s working is unprecedented.
Psyops at work on social media
A couple of years ago, the ISI’s dirty tricks department had launched a psychological warfare campaign against Indian security forces through sensational reports attributed to non-existent journalists, many with Indian names, carried in fake online journals. The sheer crudeness of the propaganda efforts gave them away.
Now, however, it seems that the Pakistani intelligence has become more subtle and sophisticated. The number of fake messages purportedly sent by Indian Army officers circulating on social media and instant messaging platforms is witness to this newly acquired refinement in technique and style.
This led to a large number of Indians falling prey to the psychological operations (psyops). Most recently, a fake message in the name of the commander of a battalion involved in the Uri encounter lobbied for gallantry awards for the brave hearts of the unit. The security establishment is now taking measures to counter the propaganda onslaught. The information warfare matrix needs constant upgrade and awareness of the changing scenario.
Citizens aiding security forces
“The guerrilla is the fish in the sea of the people,” said Mao. But if even a small section of the population aids the security forces, insurgents can be identified, isolated and neutralised.
This is what happened at Pindi Kathar village in Jammu district on November 27 when five terrorists infiltrated into the area with the intention to launch a strike and derail the election process.
Mr A, (name concealed to protect his identity) a resident of the village, who noticed the suspicious movement, immediately alerted the army out of a sense of responsibility. His input led to the elimination of all five in a two-day encounter at Arnia.Sadly, five villagers had been mercilessly gunned down by the terrorists by then. Western Army Commander General KJ Singh visited the village on December 9 to felicitate Mr. A as well as condole the deaths of the five residents. Counter-insurgency campaigns thrive on such opportune inputs which security forces encourage with generous rewards.