Three years after the Mumbai attack on 26th Nov 2008, one of the most sophisticated and dreaded attacks to tremble the entire nation, will never be forgotten in the international security affairs. The heroic contribution by the Indian security forces in eliminating the terrorists from achieving their goals will always be fresh in the minds of the citizens of India.
The experience of India in dealing with terrorism since 1980’s is very well known to the global community. However, with the increase in the series of attacks on the Indian Territory in 2008 with special reference to 26/11 there are a number of questions on the preparedness of India’s Security agencies to counter terrorism. It brings the attention of the global community to address these problems which not only India as a nation but the whole world faces as happened in case of 9/11 in US and 7/7 in Europe.
The concept of internal security has progressively been widened in recent years. India faces a number of both conventional and non-conventional national security challenges. There are several internal security threats which have external linkages which include major threats as insurgency, naxalism, terrorism to name a few. All such threats have their own ideology to fight for its cause against the government policies.
Before we indulge into India’s preparedness and its Counterterrorism Architecture post 26/11, a list of initiatives and measures have been taken place after 26/11 needs critical examination.
The first and the foremost been the initiatives taken include, International cooperation with other western countries as US and EU for the investigation of 26/11 has definitely helped to gather and identify links with more terrorist organisation.
The focus on other aspects included:
a) Attention to maritime security
b) Central and state relation and cooperation on internal security
c) Modernization of equipments
d) Urban battle training to the police and other Para-military forces.
e) Increase on Defence and security expenditure
f) Strong public opinion against terrorism as well as political conscious of the people increased post attack
g) Political diplomatic pressure by the big powers on eliminating of terrorist activities.
h) Concentration of administration and armed forces diverted towards internal threats and hence correlated with external security.
i) Setting up of new agencies to add more effective response and multiple layers of security.
Limitation and challenges in India’s Counterterrorism Strategy
In case of India, it not just one problem it has to deal with but has to address and resolve multiple threats as it has to deal with militant threats primarily from three sources: Maoist rebels known as Naxalites, tribal-based ethnic separatists and Islamist militants fighting in the name of Kashmir. But in case of terrorism which is a global menace for which every nation is making strategies and polices to deal with India has its own way due to various reasons.
The first and foremost being the problem in Defining the concept of Terrorism, due to various reasons as one of them, states that “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”. The label “terrorism itself has practical consequences. To call another a “terrorist” is to name an outcast, given traditional prejudice against the word. To call a terrorist by another name – perhaps “freedom fighter”- grants superficially greater political and moral legitimacy.
A 2003 study by Jeffrey Record for the US Army quoted a source (Schmid and Jongman 1988) that counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements. Record continues “Terrorism expert Walter Laqueur also has counted over 100 definitions and concludes that the ‘only general characteristic generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence.
This is more difficult especially in case of India due to multiple threats as naxalite, terrorist, insurgents though has different ideology to fight for but their act of crime is similar in most of the cases. However, important is to accept and frame a universal definition of terrorism. To quote here a statement made by Madeleine Albright (Former US Secretary of state), that we also need to remember that “In fighting terrorism we should remember not to create more terrorists”.
The second aspect to understand in case of India is the change in nature of strategy and tactics by terrorists with the use of modern technology as the use of internet for proliferation of terror related news and recruitments, for communication purposes, credit cards, use for financing or money transfer, cyber attacks on government sites, all come under the same umbrella to questions on Counter terrorism Strategy effectiveness. These are just means of logistics required for operations but more important is the manpower and resource availability for execution of attacks, to mention about the nexus between criminals and terrorists as seen in 1993 blasts, 7/11, 26/11 makes the law enforcement and policy makers to rethink on framing an effective strategy. If we go further addressing the issue of terrorism do we have also need to define security which covers many aspects and existing threats facing India?
The third factor been the geographical location India is located at the central part of the Asia, surrounded by major countries which illegally become a hub for terrorist activities and secondly, the coastal area where, India’s 7600-kilometre maritime border runs through 9 states Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal and 4 union territories: Daman & Diu; Lakshadweep; Puducheri; and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This zone is hub for international trade as this together, account for over 600 million tons of goods going out and coming in, valued at $ 500 billion in 2008-09 and doubling every five to six years. Of this, energy imports alone will total 100 million tons by 2013.
In order to prevent not only the terrorist activities as such which occurs in the coastal water of Indian Ocean but it also has to deal with Piracy, illegal mining for oil exploration, illegal fishing, drug trafficking, smuggling, exploring of natural resources and many more which makes in more challenging for the Maritime forces to secure the coastal borders.
Another problem lies at the Judiciary level neither TADA nor POTA were passed as laws targeting the Indian Muslim community. They were targeted generally against any individual or group aiming to disrupt the peace and harmony of the Indian Republic.
Though Maharashtra and Karnataka has laws as per their respective states, it is important to bring more reforms in the system. To mention as a quote on this issue a statement made by Ambassador H.S. Puri at the UNSG’s Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation on September 20, 2011 stated that, “We must support all efforts to enhance dialogue between and amongst civilizations, ethnicities, and religions, and evolve a culture of tolerance, compassion and respect for diversity, especially amongst the young. In addition, efforts should be made to develop comprehensive and integrated national counterterrorism strategies that fully comply with the rule of law; fully respect the dignity and human rights of all; and reach out to, and actively involve all parts of society and all communities”
Lastly, the administrative setup, the delay in execution of duties allocated and use of its manpower efficiently by the institute is not a new phenomenon and does not limit itself to Indian administrative setup only. There have been reports about the inefficient coordination and sharing of intelligence in case of United States and other countries as well as per the reports. The point in case of India, as important to mention is about the delay in clearance of decisions which are at the top most priority for our national interest. A case of delivery of advanced technology and weapons required for security forces gets delayed due to the defence procurement policy, which gives more options to the terrorist to plan another type of attack.
India’s Present Counterterrorism Strategy
India’s counter-terrorism architecture came into being in the 1980, as stated by B.Raman and expert on Terrorism). Since then, what was merely on paper as a Counter terrorism Policy, with major points focusing on strengthening of Coastal Security or Maritime Security apparatus gained momentum only after 26/11. The Policy is now becoming a strategy to prevent future attacks either by defensive or offensive means both at land and sea.
As the attack of 26/11 was carried out using the sea route, the prime focus of the policy makers and security forces was to bring more momentum to the coastal security scheme launched in 2005 -06 as (CS) Phase-I of the Coastal Security Scheme which included the setting up of 73 coastal police stations, 97 check-posts, 58 outposts and 30 operational barracks, along with 204 boats, 153 jeeps and 312 motorcycles.
Coastal Security Scheme phase II, for April 2011 at an estimated cost of Rs.1,580 crore, has been approved and it includes setting up of more police stations, acquiring boats, vehicles and other equipment, and constructing jetties. The boats, to be procured under the (CS) Phase-II, will be distributed among nine coastal states as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal and four Union Territories, as the Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In setting up the coastal radar chain, the government is now finally scrambling to kick-start the static coastal radar chain and the national AIS (automatic identification system) network to dynamically detect and track suspicious vessels entering Indian waters.
“The contract is worth Rs 601.77 crore. Under it, 36 coastal radars will be installed in the mainland, six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands and four in Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” The AIS network, under a Rs 132 crore contract inked with ELCOME Marine India in collaboration with Swedish SAAB Transponder Tech Ltd.
All such long-range identification and tracking systems will mesh together under the upcoming National C3I (command, control, communication and intelligence) Network. Linking 51 nodes of Navy and Coast Guard to achieve a “common operational picture”, this comprehensive maritime intelligence grid is slated for completion by 2012-2013.
Another such initiative is the coming of setting up NATGRID, called the National Intelligence Grid, A eleven “user” Central agencies will be able to electronically access 21 sensitive databases, now held in several areas like banks, credit card, internet, cell phones, immigration, motor vehicle departments, and railways, National Crime Records Bureau, SEBI and Income Tax Department. Along with the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), which will integrate the Central and state crime data, NATGRID will give a suspect’s “360 degree” profile.
The settings up of National Investigation Agency, the amendment in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the setting up of major hubs at different locations in India for the National Security Guards, NSG for quick response, the are some of the major initiatives taken by the centre post 26/11.
But above all, the final question that comes to every body’s mind is whether these measures are sufficient enough to counter terrorism in near future or will help to avoid another 26/11?
The answer to this is more complex about what the ground realities are at present in case of India, there have been four attacks in the Indian Territory which took place at Pune (about 10 fatalities) on February 13, in Bangalore outside a cricket stadium on April 17 (17 injured) and in Delhi on September 19 (two Taiwanese tourists injured) and in Varanasi which was recently rocked by a terrorist explosion which targeted worshippers on December 7 2010 (10 injured) two years after 26/11 and the recent attack on July 13 2011 at three different places once again in Mumbai which killed 19 and injured hundreds proves India’s security preparedness and question on whether we are serious enough to tackle terrorist attacks in near future?
Terrorism is defeated by breaking the cycle of recruitment and regeneration that sustains it, and it is not just military force that is involved” as stated by (Bruce Hoffman an expert and Director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies, Director of the Security Studies Program).
Indian policy makers should not forget the role of youth in development and security initiatives it can provide and contribute towards the in the 21st century. Though dealing with these issues which are sensitive to tackle, the contribution of young experts from the field of security studies should be encouraged and setting up of the University for National Security by the present government should be helpful in this regards. Educating the youths of today in security matters and making them understand the importance of defence and security issues will be more effective tool, as increase in the subject of security studies at various levels will help in support for nation building and tackling asymmetric threats. The joint cooperation and policy initiatives with other major powers will help to give more fruitful results.
Lastly, every national government takes its own time to yield its results in the nation building. The progress towards development should not be sidelined with security on the other track as happening today, but the concern should be about security first and then the developmental plans. The coming year’s will of an age of cyber warfare the battle field will not be any sensitive border areas but this will be the information warfare age.
Is India prepared to tackle both the information warfare threats and the urban battle of terrorism in the 21st century?
Ph.D. Research Fellow
Yashwantrao Chavan National Centre of
International Security and Defence Analysis (YCNISDA)
University of Pun