Once again terrorists reportedly wearing some form of army uniform struck with impunity killing one and wounding three civilians in the Jammu region. It is indeed fortuitous that a bigger tragedy was averted as the three terrorists failed to gain entry into an army unit. All three were gunned down by a mixture of alertness of sentries, and ineptitude of the terrorists. That these incidents happen with sickening regularity in this very region should be a matter of concern and call for fresh thinking and innovative solutions to deal with this affront to our security apparatus.
One aspect which goes without saying is that terrorism is unlikely to reduce in the foreseeable future. Secondly attacks on soft targets and attempts to gain entry into army units will continue unabated in this area considering that the National Highway is barely few kilometers away from Pakistan. It therefore follows that the Indian Army must display professionalism of a very high order consistently and that too at the junior most level to thwart the nefarious designs of terrorists.
Tackling terrorism in the region, preventing attacks on soft targets, and limiting the damage as and when they occur is a joint responsibility. This needs to be shared between the police cum civil administration, an informed and alert local populace, and finally the army as the third leg of the triad working in cohesion and synergy with its counter parts. The Indian Army as the senior partner and final arbitrator needs to take a firm and decisive lead in creating and ensuring a high degree of civil military interface. It must create a security architecture where each component plays it designated role and should push this plan through with resolve and insist on it being formalised with accountability/responsibilities clearly and unambiguously spelt out. Tackling modern day terrorism is a challenging and daunting task and therefore tough calls need to be taken if soft targets are to be given a modicum of security shield they so justly deserve.
In as far as our internal structure is concerned we need to reorient our training priorities and due to ground realities devote more time to anti terrorist training in select areas at the cost of conventional training. There needs to be complete overhaul and rethink on our access control procedures, equipment, training and attitude towards it. For far too long we have stuck to our basic sentry challenging and response procedures with minor tinkering. We must jettison this outmoded technique and taking stock of available and emerging technologies and new weaponry evolve a totally new paradigm of effective, robust and fool proof access control of all our facilities . The most important first step would be an attitudinal shift in the acceptance and encouragement of the stricter regime by officers, especially senior officers. It is imperative that we not only encourage and demand more stringent entry control procedures but willingly go though the mandated checks and while lauding efficiency, we must also point out laxity and punish the tardy. In no modern army except perhaps ours, is the access control so lax especially when it comes to officers and their staff cars. Also nowhere in the modern world are officers so impatient about routine and perfunctory checking by sentries then perhaps our country. It therefore follows that we need to put our own house in order and for officers to banish their ego and set a personal example in insisting on the highest standards of security protocol. We must train and prepare hard to first prevent and also ensure a very responsive, potent and quick response mechanism to deal with untoward incidents.
Lt Gen Sudhir Sharma,PVSM, AVSM,
YSM, VSM,(Retd) is the Chairman of
MitKat Advisory Services, India’s leading
premium risk consultancy. He hails from
the Brigade of Guards.