It is deplorable that the Uttar Pradesh government has chosen to play the blame game with the Centre on Tuesday’s terrorist assault on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Rampur. The fidayeen attack killed seven CRPF personnel and a civilian, and injured several others. The state administration shrugged off responsibility for the security lapses and accused the Centre for allowing the “illegal entry of militants at border areas”. The Mayawati government even berated the CRPF for failing to thwart the attack and “teach the militants a lesson”, despite having had specific intelligence inputs from the Intelligence Bureau.
It is no secret that the badlands of India’s most populated state were always a major headache for authorities. Now the region seems to have added one more claim to infamy by becoming the latest target of militants. Terrorists have often targeted operation bases of the CRPF in Jammu and Kashmir and other Naxal-affected states where the force is involved in counter-insurgency operations. Suicide bombers entered the makeshift headquarters of the 144 battalion of the CRPF in a hotel near the Dal Lake last October before being killed in the ensuing gun-battle. Earlier, in July, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militants tried to sneak into a CRPF camp on the outskirts of Srinagar, but were shot dead. Such failed attempts prompt the extremists to attack softer targets. This is borne out by the rash of attacks on courts and religious shrines across UP — and now the CRPF’s Rampur base.
While condemning the UP government’s ostrich-like attitude, it can’t be denied that this outrage is yet another grim reminder of the perils of treating terrorism as a mere law-and-order problem. Such an attitude is increasingly turning the country into a lab for terrorists to try out their deadly techniques, which could be deployed elsewhere later. Is it any wonder then that India has the highest number of terrorist attacks in the world? It is high time the government turned to powerful legal instruments and empowered the security forces in what is essentially an existential battle against terrorism.