Countering subversion

 Sujit Nath |  2015-02-07 01:10:24.0  |  New Delhi

Countering subversion

On one hand is the challenge posed by the regrouping of Maoists, on the other is the wretched living conditions of paramilitary forces deployed to combat them, which at times forces them to take extreme steps. Incidents of jawans committing suicide by shooting themselves and also firing at their superiors are no longer a rarity. Many feel that combating these insurgent groups could lead to civilian casualties and suggested that the government come up with developmental policies, which will prevent these people from joining such terror groups.


India has 7,000 km of coastline and 15,000 km frontier, which pose tough challenges in terms of
internal security. A federal system with regional and multi-party practice is also a challenge before the Centre to have proper coordination with the state. Already, the Central government has banned 37 organisations under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. But despite imposing stringent measures, the rise of terrorist groups in our neighbouring countries has increasingly become a source of  threat to our internal security.

In the recent case of internal strife, 14 jawans were gunned down by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh, while in Assam nearly 80 people were massacred by Songbijit faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) on December 23. Though Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the forces to give befitting reply to the perpetrators, many feel that significant development in the
bordering areas is the only way to prevent people from working against the interest of the state.

After air, land and sea – cyber domain is another area which offers its own set of challenges. As per
government records, 117 websites were hacked between January and June in 2011. In 2010, according to reports from Canada and US, the website of this very publication, India Strategic, several Ministry of Defence websites and that of India’s leading think tank, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) were also hacked. Several government websites getting hacked on a regular basis indicates that the infrastructure, which secure important websites are very fragile and penetrable. On the other hand, cyber threat actors are much more sophisticated and organised than they are given credit for.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT) had an indepth analysis on server logs of the hacked websites and advised measures to strengthen the security of these websites. But, India is yet to move from its reactive to preventive strategy to counter the problem.

Technology has to, and will play an important role in the entire gamut of security components – counter-terrorism, border security, immigration, entry and exit points monitoring. More than 40 countries have already adopted biometrics while 12 to 13 countries require biometrics for granting visa. India has disparate technologies and procedures that do not necessarily interoperate optimally. That is a big weakness. There are also plenty of cases reportedly indicating that foreigners from neighbouring countries are easily able to get some kind of identity cards which instantly, and illegally, turn them into Indian citizens. India is being repeatedly subjected to terror and cyber attacks and hostile groups have also established front organisations in cities.

Going by the trend, it is expected that by 2020, six per cent of the global procurement in Homeland Security (HS) will be from India. Not the least, in last few years, internal security has taken new dimensions as the perpetrators are faceless, clueless and dangerously loaded with sophisticated weapons and technologies which are suppose to be with the security forces. The level of their training and teaching could be well ascertained, the way Pakistani terrorists  executed the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. These new challenges need to be dealt with agile security governance. There should be excellent understanding between the states and Centre.

Post 26/11, increasing terror, Maoists and insurgency issues has forced India to secure both land and marine borders. It is a fact that the security situation in Indian cities has evolved but it is still miles away from meeting the challenging needs. “We will need fast deployment of manpower and technologies not just to secure cities but also to ensure that India’s growth rate continues at over eight per cent per annum,” the home minister said. Many terrorist incidents in the last few years all over the world alerted the possibility of use of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) materials by non-state actors. “In India, we have National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), but banking on NDMA is not going to work unless we come out with specialised units to deal with such attacks. Our preparedness for such attacks remains in a nascent stage”,  G N Jha, a former administrator in the Army said.

In recent terrorist attacks, it was seen that procurement of goods in India to make explosives became an easy task for the militants. Now, terrorists are using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which continue to baffle investigation authorities. Ammonium nitrate, a chemical which is primarily used in fertilisers, is also used as a main component in making IEDs for attacks, including in the Mumbai attacks.

“The new government should enact a law which will secure and monitor the supply-chain of ammonium nitrate and other chemicals used in making explosives. There is regulation in India on how much ammonium nitrate one can purchase. Also, it should be on record, the address and name of the persons who are purchasing the chemical. Those who are purchasing must validate legitimate use and suppliers must retain records and report theft or loss of ammonium nitrate to concerned authorities,” Jha said.

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