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Ear to the ground

For India to become difficult prey for terrorists, the most important step is to beef up the police and intelligence network, and inter-agency coordination, writes PN Khera.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2007 00:20 IST
PN Khera

Pakistan is facing the consequences for being the fountainhead of mindless killing in the name of ‘jehad’. The jehadis are frustrated that the excessive self-sacrifice has brought them little political dividend in the form of territorial aggrandisement. The Taliban is trying to resurrect itself in Afghanistan from the ashes of Tora Bora. But Pakistan’s main issue, Kashmir, remains removed from jehadi ideology which is foreign to the land. So jehadi terrorists must find other avenues to make their presence felt. To date, despite being the second-most assaulted nation on the face of the earth with the largest number of casualties in bomb blasts and terrorist strikes, India has remained stoic and composed.

India’s position on terror is something that terrorist outfits have taken advantage of. The State and citizens need to shift psychological gears and understand that a paradigm shift is required if we are to successfully combat the menace. A massive military response, on the lines of Operation Parakram after the attack on Parliament, is not what is called for; a more refined approach is necessary. A cultivated response beginning with good police work at the grassroots level in the mega-cities can become the biggest roadblocks for terror activities. Good policing can rob perpetrators of opportunities that are beginning to look all too simple, repeated in the same manner as previous strikes proved successful. The Hyderabad carnage has the tracings of events in Sarojini Nagar and Paharganj in Delhi some years ago.

We must have analysts and systems in place that can anticipate terrorist action and thus take pre-emptive measures. Analysts need to understand which sections of society are vulnerable. Crowded areas like bazaars, entertainment centres, mass transit systems and places of worship lend themselves to penetration and indiscriminate destruction.

Media campaigns help in creating awareness and alerting the public on the discovery of unclaimed objects, so on and so forth. But real prevention lies in establishing the mechanism whereby such an ‘object’ can be prevented from being placed with impunity and mala fide intent. By dint of being victims of sustained terrorism in various parts of the country, local police and municipal authorities know enough to press the latest technology into place for preventive and pre-emptive policing. Televised means of surveillance can at least leave spoors of perpetrators that can be followed up by good police work, like the commendable investigations into the Ayodhya terrorist attack which led to a hideout in Jammu and Kashmir where the terrorists were tracked down and shot dead in an exchange of fire. However, there are too many other examples where a dead-end is reached with few clues and even fewer detections.

The report of the Group of Ministers in its post-Kargil review has a segment devoted to ‘internal security’. But not all of its recommendations have been implemented. One recommendation was that the state governments must take steps for localised security, intelligence gathering and dissemination thereafter. Little has happened on this. Part of the reason is corruption and collusion between the state police and criminal elements. Many criminal gangs of Indian origin have communal biases that became evident in the Mumbai blasts.

There is no consistent follow-up action

on intelligence reports. Interrogations and findings remain localised with the intelligence at the state-level and task forces. If prompt action had been taken on the 17-page interrogation report of Jallaludin Mullah (Babu Bhai), the Sarojini Nagar and Hyderabad incidents, perhaps, could have been avoided.

Nowadays, channels for contraband transmission are being used to move explosives which explains why large consignments escape detection. Yet, there are local means of fashioning explosives, a craft taught in terrorist-training schools in our neighbourhood. One function of disaster management is to localise security to the micro-level which eventually encompasses the individual. At the end of the day, security concerns us all.

P.N. Khera is Editor,

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