INTERNAL SECURITY – THE LOOMING CRISIS : A VIEWPOINT
Since last two years that China has been providing arms and communication equipment to to the Maoists through the Kachen rebels in Myanmar and onwards through the PLA of Manipur and that China was also organising joint PLA Manipur and Maoists training in
The nation’s involvement in forthcoming elections has apparently diverted the attention from the accelerating internal security threats, not that they were taken that seriously earlier. One example is the response to the Maoist insurgency which has been left generally to the concerned states, Centre’s involvement being limited to dishing out central armed police forces and periodic intelligence inputs despite the Prime Minister stating for past so many years that the Maoist insurgency is the greatest internal security threat to the country.
In this context, the recent Maoist strike in Sukma district that claimed the lives of 11 CRPF, four local police personnel and one civilian in the crossfire was a repeat of past so many incidents, including the repeat story of ignoring the alert sounded by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which themselves are generic in nature and periodic and violating the laid down standard operating procedure for movement in Maoist-infected areas. The Maoist tactics of mass attack was repeated in daylight reportedly by a group numbering between 100 and 200 taking the column by surprise in an area ideal for ambush, not dissimilar to and just eight kilometres away from the May 25, 2013, ambush on the Congress convoy. Not only had the column established a routine pattern, drills for sending advance scouts and moving from bound to bound were reportedly not followed. No lessons have been drawn from scores of similar earlier ambushes.
There have been MHA advisories in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections but these again are routine and without specific inputs though issued to Maoist infested states and states that are to hold elections including like Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Significantly, in the run up to the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections, there were 109 Maoist attacks claiming nine lives in the former and 125 attacks claiming 24 lives during the latter. But what should be of serious concern is that Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) of Manipur communiqué that an ambush was carried out under “Operation Leopard” on March 11, 2013, in Sita village of Chandel district on the convoy of Commanding Officer of 24 Assam Rifles using explosives, RPGs and M-79 assault rifles. The communiqué went on to boast recovery of several arms and ammunitions, including one AK-47, one AR-M1F41, three magazines, 87 live bullets, one magazine pouch, one INSAS LMG, one INSAS rifle with two magazines, 48 live rounds and a Motorola wireless radio.
Even of more concern is the statement of the RPF being a strategic partner of the Maoists, congratulating the CPI (Maoist) on its successful conduct of an attack on an CRPF on March 11 at Sukma district, Chhattisgarh. A spokesperson of RPF described RPF “as a force fighting against India’s colonial occupation of a country can fully understand the suffering and fully support the correct revolutionary movement launched by the CPI (Maoist) for the liberation of the marginalised and to bring about equality in society”.
Such development should have been foreseen with media reports citing intelligence inputs since last two years that China was providing arms and communication equipment to the Maoists through the Kachen rebels in Myanmar and onwards through the PLA of Manipur and that China was also organising joint PLA Manipur and Maoists training in the Northeast India aside from providing assault rifles production facilities to Kachens of Myanmar and Indian Maoists. Paresh Barua and his main cronies of ULFA are reportedly based in Ruli, in mainland China. NSCN (IM) leader Isaac Muivah accused the Central Government of deliberately delaying the ongoing political talks between the two entities as per a report in the Nagaland Post though Muivah NSCN IM’s Isak Swu have been camping in Delhi for the last four months. Such intransigence needs to be viewed in concert with Chinese nationals apprehended with fake Indian documents two years back on a mission to contact Naga insurgents.
A significant report put under wraps was the recovery of a 1.5 kg Uranium mine by the Army in Assam in January 2013. CBRN attacks have occurred in Japan in 1995 (Sarin gas attacks on Tokyo subway) and anthrax attack in the US in 2001. Terrorists would have no compunctions in conducting CBRN attacks in India, which can be even more lethal if coupled with suicide bombing. This is no time to be complacent.
The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.
LT GENERAL (RETD) P.C. KATOCH