Over two months after the deadly multi-mode – multi-target attack by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai, a technical seminar on internal security was held in Delhi. Organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), major participants were Association of Police & Security Suppliers (APPSS) the sister trade association of the Defence Manufacturers Association (DMA), United Kingdom. A number of APPSS companies showcased high-tech and stealthy anti-terrorist investigation and forensic aids effectively used by the British security establishment in the surge of post 9/11 terrorist attacks and the choice of participants only raised the significance of the event. The then Deputy National Security Advisor, Government of India, Mr Shekhar Dutt, SM, former Defence Secretary (a former Army officer), stated that security was getting a far more comprehensive connotation than purely a military or law and order construct.
With civil society conceiving itself as an equal and complementing matrix of national security, our policies and strategies need to prepare for the future and not merely address the present. From box-based planning, we need to orient to a transformational mode where activity lines and time lines are well defined. For achieving a competent position globally, he recommended that the industry intensify R&D with regard to security technology. He urged for a better instrumentation of security environment, by linking the economy with science in a manner which is structured and can be monitored. “Internal security involves human beings who value their own freedom as much as they value the nation’s security. Therefore technology is definitely an important tool; though the essential driver remains the human mind. India is witnessing a transition from a traditionally developing society to a modern state accentuated one because of ongoing technological revolution. We are witnessing awakening of the dormant mass that wishes to challenge the unity of elites at the top of the national pyramid”, he said .
Additional Secretary (CS), Ministry of Home Affairs Ms Anita Choudhary, pointed out that terrorism, left wing extremism and insurgency in North-East India region are major threats to India’s security and stressed a greater need for development of domestic manufacturing base for sophisticated security technology. She further added that increase in the number of business establishments presents a scope for them to help in building capacity in security domain, which includes mobility equipments, communication devices, security equipments, forensic mechanism etc. Home Ministry has declared developing airborne capability for National Security Guard (NSG) and modernisation of state police forces as primary objectives. CII’s view was that since the world is restructuring its decade old treaties to accommodate India’s interest, India should exceed its technological capabilities. The security matrix has to be refined further by moving ahead of a sensors based setup.
The nation has to adopt technologies like data warehousing and data mining for better tracking. CII also pointed out that the Indian Administration has beefed-up the budget for developing security and surveillance capabilities to US$ 10 billion. Acquisition for radar for 7,500 km long coastline is on. Interacting with this writer, APPSS Project Manager Ms Toni Adams, heading the British delegation of 21 members, expressed that while participation of the British defence industry in major showcasing events in India like Def Expo had been steadily increasing over the past years, the support of UK’s vibrant and hi-tech security sector from the companies of APPSS was an important value addition. Shaun Hipgrave of Forensic Telecommunications Service (FTS) felt that India required huge education in the field of telephone forensic measures, about which there was neither much knowledge nor consciousness prior to 26/11. In fact, shortly before the Mumbai attack, he had met the then head of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad, Mr Hemant Karkare in the same connection. Hipgrave informed that forensic science had advanced so much that no matter how badly damaged, if cell phones of terrorists or their victims, could be recovered, valuable evidence could be culled from their sim-cards.
John Patterson, an optical engineer working for Ultrafine Tehnologies demonstrated the fascinating achievement of cameras with probes which could stealthily and swiftly penetrate thick concrete walls and provide still or moving views of the other side. Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (retd), Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies felt that the old capacity for covert operations needed to be reorganised so that deadly terrorists cannot simply continue killing with impunity but can be attacked. The covert operation need not be done by own troops or operatives as the same could be well outsourced to persons of the enemy or adversary country. While participants included industrialists and serving as well as retired officers of the three services, one group quite conspicuous by its absence-noted and commented by a number of speakers- was that of the police. In view of large scale and long overdue process of modernisation and reforms, senior police officers should take a close look at all such equipment. Besides, these there were many other sophisticated surveillance devices, protection systems against chemical attacks and various other gizmos, which Indian security agencies must have to tackle or neutralise extremely wellequipped terrorists.
Whereas CII has been working with the Ministry of Defence to increase industry participation in defence production, at this seminar it expressed its intention to take ahead the initiative to the Home Ministry as well. Based on the feedback from the seminar, CII would come out with a comprehensive long term plan on Internal Security. The task force would envisage policy advocacy for the security environment, draw guidelines based on best practices in the industry and spread awareness about technology to security agencies. During Def Expo 2010, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) declared that it would accord priority to developing systems to meet the challenges of terrorism and lowintensity conflict, which is emerging as the most potent threat to security.
Asserting that DRDO would continue taking up projects for which technology has been denied by other countries, Dr. V K Saraswat indicated that DRDO does not expect foreign assistance in developing high energy weapon systems, specific applications of nano-technology and complete network-centric warfare systems. Several systems for low-intensity conflicts, such as micro unmanned aerial vehicles and surveillance systems for penetrating thick foliage, are futuristic in nature. Others will be developments over existing systems, such as nuclear biological and chemical defence, soldiercentric technologies and systems, and adapting technologies for coastal surveillance. If the 26/11 terrorist attack exposed crucial weaknesses of Mumbai Police, the widespread scourge of Naxal-Maoist terrorism exposed the same about other state and central police forces, particularly CRPF.
While Indian Army fighting terrorism for decades has the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte Mizoram and a number of battle schools at Corps level, it is only six years ago that the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) was raised at Kanker, Chattisgarh. Brig (retd) BK Ponwar, its Director and former Commandant, CIJWS, interacting with this writer, said: “Pitching a CRPF battalion into counter terrorism operations without any orientation can be a lethal folly….you cannot expect its personnel to start fighting against wily, well-armed and jungle-based guerillas overnight after long spells of guarding banks or other urban duties….the feedback of the freshly posted Commandant of 62 CRPF,
which lost 76 personnel last year and undergoing this training now, is that it is superior, tougher and well-conceptualized than some similar foreign training institutions…..out of 15000 policemen trained so far, there have been few casualties and none in the past year and a half….5 out of 12 Indian Police Service officers trained here have been awarded President’s Police Medal for gallantry.” Finally, an absolute must for effective homeland security is implementation of long pending police reforms and increasing recruitment in state police forces to make good the drastically low policeman to population ratio.
—Col Anil Bhat (retd) an independent defence and security analyst, is Editor, Word Sword Features