Integrated homeland challenge
Disclosures by Abu Jundal reveal how intricately the Pakistani state plans and executes the proxy war against us. Leave aside 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and year 2000 Chittisinghpora massacre of Sikhs by LeT cadres in military uniform, even spectators to Indo-Pak cricket matches are used for terrorism – remember the 500 Pakistani spectators who vanished from Mohali a few years back?
Earlier this year, the arrest of two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) cadres planning terror strikes in Chandini Chowk in Delhi had come from Jharkhand, were provided explosives by Maoists and for the first time the government acknowledged the Strategic United Front of Maoists. It conclusively confirms the LeT-Maoists link. Intelligence had in the past reported LeT representatives attending Maoist meetings.
Post-26/11, Pakistan has activated her sleeper modules inducted pan-India in early 1980s who have nurtured youth to radicalise and adopt the terror route. While Al Qaeda started deploying home grown terrorists in recent years, Pakistan had prepared for such operations in India decades back. An integrated terror-cuminsurgent homeland challenge is staring us in the face at pointblank range and it will be foolish not to recognise it. There should be little doubt that we will have to contend with terrorism and insurgencies in the foreseeable future. These are manifestations of asymmetric war and the response will necessary have to be synergised through the security sector with the fighting elements comprising the military, paramilitary forces (PMF), central armed police forces (CAPF), police, intelligence agencies, private security organisations, so on and so forth with the citizenry providing a billion eyes on ground for human intelligence as an integrated whole.
We are already witnessing tech savvy terrorism and sophistication in insurgent actions including state-ofthe-art weaponry, communications and explosives besides changing tactics. In future, we could well witness cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, financial and kinetic attacks, dirty bombs, maritime, chemi- cal and bio terrorism, and even radiological/nuclear blackmail to spread panic and create hysteria. In such an environment, threats will be omnipresent that can occur without warning. Our intransigence has provided an asymmetric battlefield within our homeland that is being exploited by both China and Pakistan.
The Ministry of Home Affairs’ list of some three score terrorist organisations operating within India makes no mention of organisations like the Popular Front of India (PFI) that is fast emerging as a threat particularly with its links with LeT established in Kerala. Reports of the Maoists establishing in urban centres including Delhi/NCR and similar reports of the PFI should be a cause of concern. Consolidation of Islamic terrorism in India and its international links is a reality that cannot be ignored. Integration and interdependence of terrorist and insurgent organisations in India is happening at a fast pace and there is no option but to respond at the national level.
Dishing out companies of CAPF to the states along with provision of periodic intelligence inputs is not going to work. Acts of terrorism and insurgent strikes must be delinked from law and order accredited to states and response made the responsibility of the Centre. Necessary constitutional amendment, if necessary, must be done. Discussion with all political parties post publishing a white paper on integrated homeland challenges should facilitate arriving at a consensus. When the Home Minister himself recommends setting up of a Ministry of Internal Security (MIS), it indicates the existing set up is inadequate. Integrated challenges to homeland security have to be handled at the national level with a centralised framework. The MIS must have a strong NCTC linked to State Counter Terrorism Centres in every state linked through NATGRID and thereon to the fighting forces on the ground besides other measures that must be instituted for appropriate response. The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.