Originally Published 2009-07-18 09:44:41 Published on Jul 18, 2009
In the aftermath of the serial train blasts in Mumbai on July 11, in which 179 people were killed and 772 wounded, the question uppermost in public mind is ¿why has India become the most affected target of terrorism?¿ Ever since June 1985, when Air India¿s ¿Kanishka¿ was blown up over the Ireland coast, India¿s share of terrorists¿ incidents and civilian casualties has risen to become the highest in the world.
On the wrong track
In the aftermath of the serial train blasts in Mumbai on July 11, in which 179 people were killed and 772 wounded, the question uppermost in public mind is 'why has India become the most affected target of terrorism?' Ever since June 1985, when Air India's 'Kanishka' was blown up over the Ireland coast, India's share of terrorists' incidents and civilian casualties has risen to become the highest in the world. <br /> <br /> In its current phase, the terrorist organisations seem to have perfected their modus operandi. Serial, high intensity blasts, at rush hours in metros of the economically most important city gets them best results; maximum damage and loudest message. Earlier incidents in Varanasi, New Delhi's Sarojini Nagar, Mumbai (Gateway of India) and Bangalore were not very different. Causing such incidents requires strategising, meticulous planning, extensive logistic support and trusted execution. Only large well-organised outfits with considerable means and support can carry out such deeds. <br /> <br /> Three major questions come up for macro level review by our policy makers: Who is responsible for these major terrorists' incidents and why? What message are these groups within and outside India getting currently? What further prevention measures need to be taken or need greater focus?&nbsp; <br /> <br /> For India, external and internal security has now got enmeshed. This review, therefore, has to take into account both domestic and external elements. It has become almost fashionable to call terrorists the nameless enemy. That does not help. It conveys defencelessness; makes us more vulnerable. Identification of terrorist group(s) responsible for each incident is a major challenge for the intelligence agencies. They would be fully involved in this already.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> But if these agencies need specific directives and additional resources - technical and non-technical - these must be given to them on a priority. Prevention of terrorism implies pro-active as well as reactive measures.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> We need to take hard measures against fundamentalist and extremist outfits in our society that spread hatred in the name of religion. We need tougher anti-terrorism laws.&nbsp; <br /> There is considerable delay in the judicial processing and punishing of terrorists. To date, we have failed to take action against those involved in the Coimbatore serial blasts in February '98. The adverse impact is obvious. We need special and more accountable courts. <br /> <br /> There is a need to upgrade internal security in vulnerable areas of metros and other cities. Mumbai, alone, has seen five major blast incidents in recent years. We need to upgrade our human resources as well as equipment, particularly surveillance and communication equipment, in metro cities and urban areas. The civil defence teams in urban areas need to be rejuvenated. There is a cynical view that our police forces get no respite or refresher training because a large number is deployed 24/7 on VIP protection duties. This policy too needs urgent review. <br /> <br /> We have disaster relief management plan for each big city (worked out along with the armed forces). We need to prepare similar plans for major terrorist activities or break down of law and order. And they need frequent updating. <br /> <br /> Pakistan for long has supported anti-Indian terrorist groups. Musharraf has not delivered on the promises and agreements on this issue that were made in January 2002 and 2004. The anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan remains intact. Cross-border terrorism has been and continues to be an instrument of its foreign policy to keep alive the Kashmir issue and to bleed India. Many retired Pakistani officials, strategists had confirmed this earlier, and now Pakistan's foreign minister has made it public. There is little chance of establishing durable peace or friendly relations with Pakistan unless Islamabad implements its commitments. <br /> <br /> Strategically, India cannot afford to be perceived to be buckling down under terrorist pressures. Neither can it afford to depend on others to take care of its internal security. Hard decisions, based on hard analysis of options in the current trend of terrorist activities can no longer be deferred. We need to make counter terrorism statements clear and sting-loaded to all our neighbours who persist in supporting terrorism against India.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> We can do Salaam Mumbai. The people of the city deserve it. But neither platitudes nor political rhetoric will work unless we can reverse the trend and achieve some big successes against terrorists. Excessive rhetorical public statements make people cynical after sometime. They want action. <br /> <br /> <br /> </font> <font size="2" class="greytext1"> <em>The writer is a former Chief of Army Staff. Presently, he is President, Institute of Security Studies, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi. <br /> <br /> Source: Daily News &amp; Analysis (DNA), Mumbai, July 18, 2006. <br /> </em> <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em> <br />
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.