The dastardly attack on churches and hotels in Colombo and other cities of Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, set of a flurry of articles on the resurgence of terror groups in South Asia. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) but executed on ground by a group which had little visibility in Sri Lanka and which was till then an unknown entity out- side the Island nation. The Indian intelli- gence agencies had warned the Sri Lankan authorities of the possibility of such an attack, but the warnings were not heeded, possibly because of the long period of peace seen in Sri Lanka post the decimation of the LTTE a decade back. There appeared to be no valid reasons for a minuscule radical Muslim group to carry out such an attack and so the Island nation was caught by sur- prise when it did take place.
Post the event, a lot of soul searching is being carried out in Sri Lanka and a repeat of such an act is most unlikely. In any event, Sri Lanka, for the next few years at least, will place all Muslim organisations with even a hint of being radicalised under the scanner and will closely monitor their activities. The aim of the Islamic State has thus been achieved, by showing its power to act through its franchisees, in any part of the world, despite being winkled out of the last bit of territory it held in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State has now also laid claim, through Amaq, its News Agency that it has formed a new province in India in Kashmir, called “Wilayah of Hind”. This appears to be a measure to bolster its standing after being driven out of its self styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in April, but nevertheless, must be taken seriously.
Since the beginning of the year, by mid May, over 80 terrorists have been eliminated in J&K, with the security forces periodically hitting at the terrorist groups with precision and without collateral damage. That speaks of the excellent levels of cooperation between the Army and the local police forces and the continuous inflow of intelligence which has enabled precision targeting. This will, in the course of the year, break the back of terrorism in the state, but more needs to be done to ensure peace.
An important intervention must be in dealing with Pakistan with firmness and resolve and making that country pay for its continued support to terror groups operat- ing within India. It would be a cardinal mis- take to get back to talks with that country, unless we have verifiable evidence that all terror camps operating within Pakistan have been closed down. The onus is on Pakistan to show intent and it can do so by handing over to India, terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, Dawood Ibrahim and Masood Azhar for trial. Unless that is done, talks are meaningless.
Pressure must also be maintained through the NIA on separatists. It is not understood why special fast track courts are not being set up to try those apprehended in terror cases, so that an appropriate message is delivered and deterrence sets in. Financial inflows must also be monitored and con- trolled, to choke money supplies which are so vital to keep such terror groups functional.
On the foreign policy front, great success has been achieved in isolating Pakistan. On the home front, emotional integration of the state is impeded because of discriminatory provisions such as Article 370 of the Constitution and Article 35 A. The new gov- ernment in the Centre needs to take steps for the repeal of such articles if the state is to revert to normalcy and not remain in the grips of terror groups and their sponsors.