Too many blind spots

The government is right in declaring that terrorist actions will not deflect them from their efforts to restore normality through dialogue.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 01:30 IST
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The terrorist strike in Srinagar that took the lives of five persons and injured 22 is a consequence of the foolhardy casualness with which terrorist violence in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is being handled. It is now nearly 20 years since the Kashmir insurgency began. In this period, there have been countless acts of terror, as well as attacks on high-profile government officials and politicians in the Valley. Yet, the fact that two terrorists wearing police uniforms could walk into a meeting that Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was scheduled to address, tells its own story. That Mr Azad escaped because he had been delayed and Inspector General of Police K Rajendra Kumar was injured, shows just how grave the failure was. The act has been condemned all around and described as an ‘act of desperation’ and ‘cowardice’, aimed at disrupting the round table conference and so on. But it needs to be taken equally seriously as an unacceptable breach of security procedures.

The police force has either not been able to work out routine procedures of perimeter security, or simply lacks the training to do so. By now the police should have a system in place that would ensure that all armed personnel have special identification passes which are specific to the event and issued under the signature of a senior office. Such tags are provided, for example, to the police personnel who line the prime minister’s route wherever he travels.

The incident points to a larger failure as well. Terrorist strikes in the Valley have now become carefully calibrated acts, as was evident from the fact that the terrorists who struck on Sunday did not indiscriminately fire on the scores of people lying supine on the ground but mainly at the security personnel. The attackers were no cowards, considering that they knew that their chances of surviving the strike were next to nil. Scores of such terrorists, mainly Pakistani, are in the Valley biding their time for similar operations. The government is right in declaring that terrorist actions will not deflect them from their efforts to restore normality through dialogue. But it must also realise that it cannot do so unless it has a better strategy to physically liquidate such groups.

First Published: May 23, 2006 01:30 IST