Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS) is an RSS-backed organisation of retired defence service officials, judges, diplomats and security experts. FINS president (retired) Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar, considered an expert on terrorism and insurgency, was in Indore on Saturday. He talked to HT on India’s security challenges. Excerpts
How has status of terrorism vis-à-vis India’s internal security has changed ever since new government came to power at the centre?
The change is visible. Level of violence has come down in Jammu and Kashmir. Terrorists’ infiltration in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) has receded for fear of retaliation by the Indian army. But a new front has opened in Punjab where terrorism is being re-activated at behest of men like Hafiz Saeed (Lashkar-e-Taiba founder) whose area of operation stretches from Punjab in Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir. Because Pakistan army and terrorists have lost influence in Kashmir, they are creating trouble in Punjab. It’s a renewed challenge. These are non-state actors, who are an extension of the Pakistan army. India should build retaliatory capacity in Punjab.
Another significant change is that China and Pakistan have begun to take India seriously. They are aware of its growing might militarily and otherwise.
A nexus of NGO-politicians-militants in the North-East has been one of the key reasons behind turbulence in the region. Do you think this nexus should be investigated?
No doubt, a strong nexus exists there. There are many politicians in the North-East who have risen to power because of militants. Barring in Mizoram and Tripura, most politicians have used influence of militants to remain in power. If government shows the will, it will take at least six years to break this nexus in the area, which has been under infiltrators’ influence for 60 years. The Centre has pumped in crores of rupees for the region’s development since the country’s Independence. It should conduct performance audit to know where has all that money gone? This will help in knowing the loopholes and devising future strategy.
How safe are Indian coastlines?
The next big terror attack will be from sea. About 68% of India’s strategic assets are situated along 7,516-km-long coastline. Any attack will damage the country’s economy greatly. Why shouldn’t chief ministers of all the coastal states hold regular meeting to review the coastal security. The Centre should initiate this. In fact, all chief ministers should be involved in foreign policy decision, as many states share borders with other countries.