KEEP THE POWDER DRY

Since Independence, the nation has been faced with security challenges, either from external powers or internal actors, some aided by external powers. The challenges have been squarely addressed by the Forces, who have left no stone unturned in their quest to protect and guard the Frontiers of India from external aggression and the people of India from internal disorder. The challenges however are getting more complex, with no let up in terrorist activities in the three active areas within India — Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in parts of India, Terrorism in J&K and low level insurgencies in some states of Northeast India.

The Army is not involved in combatting LWE. That function continues to be performed by the respective states using their police forces assisted by — when asked for — Central Armed Police Forces, both BSF and CRPF. The Army however has a dual commitment, one in J&K in addressing terrorist violence and the other in the Northeast in maintaining normalcy. While the state of affairs in the Northeast is under control, a great deal of concern has been expressed over the state of affairs in J&K, with the open support being provided by Pakistan to terrorist groups operating in India. The proactive stance taken by India’s political leadership in isolating Pakistan and the success achieved by the Army and police forces in tackling terrorists in the state is however yielding results and bodes well for the future.

Much work however still needs to be done in the state of J&K. Politics, both at the State and National level tends to hijack national interest for narrow political gain. It is this that has prevented a resolution to the problem in J&K, despite the Army having ensured normalcy time and again in the state. It is vital that the nations lawmakers speak in one voice to root out terrorism from the state. There must also be a firm disincentive to partake in anti national activities. This could be done by making the perpetrators and their families pay an economic cost for the damage that they cause to the state.

Unfortunately, such people, instead of being vilified, are receiving compensation from the state, which further encourages disruptive elements. There is also a need to look into the school curricula and text books to see that sedition does not creep into the minds of our children. Equally important is the need to check certain mosques from spewing venom against the state, to prevent radicalisation in society.

While the situation in the Kashmir Division remains serious, a more serious threat is developing along India’s Northern borders with Tibet. China is becoming increasingly belligerent, as evinced by its actions in trying to slice away a portion of Bhutanese Territory in Doka La. India has rightly resisted this move, which seems to have surprised the Chinese. Some of the statements emanating from The Global Times, a mouthpiece of the communist government in Beijing, were in extremely bad taste. Whether they have the approval of China’s leadership or otherwise is not yet clear, but it is hard to assume that a statement made by this paper would not have come without political approval. The Global Times has even threatened India that it would review its position on Bhutan and Sikkim. That perhaps would not be in the best interest of China, which is increasingly being seen as a regional bully. More to the point, such an action would offer India the opportunity to review its stance on Tibet, which would complicate the situate for Beijing no end.

The Indian response to Chinese transgressions has been mature, but the standoff at Doka La is not likely to end soon. Beijing may well attempt to stoke violence in parts of Northeast India as also in Bhutan and Sikkim. A military skirmish at this point cannot be ruled out. India needs to be prepared to deal with Chinese perfidy in any form. While dealing with the situation at the political and diplomatic level, it would be advisable for India’s military to remain prepared for

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