Prime Minister had recently given the message of cutting expenditure to the armed forces. Many defence deals are pending or just ensuring our dependence on foreign powers. With US planning to withdraw from Pakistan, Taliban is reviving its colours with covert and overt support of anti-India forces. The internal security dimensions are glaring through naxalism, minoritism, absence of border management, misgovernance and parochial considerations. The worst part is the blurred internal-external security paradigm. In this scenario of multifarious challenges the real reforms process is off-track. One month prior to the Republic Day, Organiser and Panchjanya took review of the security challenges with special focus on internal security concerns.
The programme titled ‘Dialogue on Defence’ consisted of a daylong brain storming on internal security concerns on December 26, 2013 at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan II, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi had an added value as it brought academicians, researchers, former bureaucrats, defence personnel and social activists on the same platform. Shri Prafulla Ketkar, Editor Organiser put forth the rationale for such dialogue in his introductory remarks.
Session I – Jammu and Kashmir [Key Note Speaker: Shri Alok Bansal]
Noted expert on J&K, Alok Bansal started with the alarming note situation that existed two years back is detracting. The Wahhabism is due growing to the extreme discontent with the present State Government. On the other hand, irrespective of what Mr. Gilani might say there is gross disillusionment with the Pakistan as there is a growing realisation about Pakistan being a failing state. There is a growing sense of insecurity among all the minority section in Kashmir valley. Shias believe that they will be targeted in recent future like Kashmiri Pandits were in the late nineties. Apart from these all the other minorities like Sikhs and Christians also have developed immense sense of insecurity. New critical areas of Jammu where this fear is area of Doda, Rajouri, Bhadarwah and Kishtwar. The youth in J&K are looking forward for change and therefore, they must be apprised of the happening of the POJK so that they get right perceptions about Indian side of J&K.
While deliberating on the issue Anil Kamboj said that with the withdrawals of NATO forces from Afghanistan will have a great impact on Kashmir. He agreed to the point that youth is being targeted by these radical elements and that if we want to get rid of those radical elements the Shia elements should be engaged in dialogue. Col. Jaibans Singh negated the popular perception that J&K is the most militarised zone in the world. There is a need of more troops in that area as because of the terrain it is man-power extensive. People of J&K are not fed up with the army but with the local police or CRPF, as army hardly deals with the internal state issues. There has been a talk that terrorism is at its low therefore AFSPA should be removed. Level of terrorism should not be measured with the number of killings. Till today our policy related to the military is good in regard to J&K and therefore we must not got pressurised. Hurriat’s anti-national and youth provoking activities should be taken seriously by the government and strict legal action should be taken against it.
Major General Dhruv Katoch suggested three different dress codes for police, CRPF and military which would help in mitigating negative impression against Indian Military. Indian transmission should be made available in the hilly areas and the trend of talking with Pakistan after attacks should be reversed. Shri Prakash Singh said that funds sent from Delhi are not reaching to the ground level is the main cause of dissatisfaction with the Indian Government. Internal situations should not be handled by the military. We must strengthen our local policing.
Mr. EN Ram Mohan discussed that CRPF or military should be made to zero in the populated areas and policing should be made strong as local policing had finished terrorism in the states of Punjab. Alok Bansal concluded the discussion with remarks that to nullify Gilani like leaders, we should promote the religious tourism and the economic activity at the local levels. Efforts should be made to make discussion about Gilgit-Baltistan in public and India should include Jammu-Kashmir including PoJK in Indian school Text books.
Session II: The Red Terror (Major General Dhruv Katoch and Mr Praksh Singh)
Through a PPT, Maj Gen Katoch discussed points that if Constitutional provisions are implemented in letter and spirit, support for Maoist will decrease. CRPF is not the right force to handle Naxalism, as it lacks training and knowledge of local situation. Basic policing has to be improved and there is a need to prepare a long term strategy. Also we should made a plan to counter the ideology. The war with naxalities has to be fought at psychological level. Another main point was that a mechanism of screening of NGOs should be put in place because anti-India sentiments are being harvested using NGOs by unfriendly countries. Shri Prakash Singh said that he thinks the problem of naxalism is not due the problem of governance but because of lack of grievance redressal mechanism. Lack of coordination between State and Centre accompanied by rampant corruption and political interference in policing and administration is worsening the situation. While furthering the discussion, senior journalist Debobrat Ghose highlighted that red terror has no longer Naxalbari ideology but a Maoist language. In the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, the penetration of Mao in democracy was quite evident. He apprised the audience with the latest development where Naxalists are getting in links with SIMI and vice versa. They use each other’s network to get ammunition and accommodation. In the recent past, with the help of SIMI, maoists have succeeded in penetrating urban area whereas origin of their movement used to be rural. Shri Alok Bansal with the reference to the topic said that naxalism is due to injustice of government which has caused distrust in people. Major Katoch wraped up the discussion with insisting that main reason for this chaotic situation in handling naxalism/maoism is we have forgotten the basic policing which means working from the grassroots.
Session IV: Cyber Security
On this Alok Bansal said that besides the enormous expenditure in the defensive strategy we should also learn to be offensive in the cyber world. Shakti Sinha passed a cynical comment that government agencies has neither Indianised the cyber space nor have their own servers and continue using Gmail and Yahoo accounts.
Shri Prafulla Ketkar raised four concerns about managing the cyber security:
o Bridging the digital divide
o Manage information overload
o Cyber technology for Economic offences
o Cyber terrorism
Session V: Militancy and Border Issues in the North-East (Shri EN Ram Mohan and Shri Anil Kamboj)
EN Ram Mohan who served in the region as a police officer for a long time provided a historical perspective to the problems of northeast India. People are unaware of the North-East states as there is no chapter about it in the books. There were no anti-India groups in Mizoram but by the negligence by the administrative servants caused its origin. Shri Anil Kamboj insisted that tribal identities, caste and religion are the main reasons of insurgency in the north east. Binalakshmi Nepram added that at various places north-eastern people are misbehaved with. To make oneness with the north-east, it should become a part of Indian curricula. All insurgent groups are not anti-India. Most of the insurgencies are due to suppression of locals by migrants. Insurgency has become a business model in nexus with small arms and drug trafficking. Unfortunately, national media is very ignorant about these issues. Recently Burmese army has entered 10 km inside India which was not reported by National media in the way it would have in case of north-western borders.
Session VI: Proliferation of small arms and narcotics (Keynote Speaker: Ms Binalakshmi Nepram)
Binalakshmi Nepram while starting the discussion raised a point that though northeast is highly conducive for drug trafficking and many youths are getting trapped into drugs, the chemicals used for the processing of heroine are produced in industries of various states of India, which needs to be tracked. In her emotional appeal, she said we have to seriously understand the challenge that 66 per cent of the heroine produced worldwide comes from Myanmar which is adjacent to Manipur and sophisticated arms can be easily fetched by paying 3000 rupees. Shakti Sinha insisted that economic flourishment of the North-east region have to be started in order to neutralise insurgency or Narco trafficking.
Session VII: Terrorism (Keynote Speaker – Col Jaibans Singh)
To bring in clarity of the issues pertaining to terrorism, Col Jaibans Singh raised following questions:
o What is the difference between terrorist, rebel, insurgent and militant?
o Is it right to call terrorist a Jehadi?
o When whole world is suffering from terrorism then why there is a no common strategy to fight terrorism?
o What are terror threats which are emanating to India?
o How does media be made responsible to address issues related to terrorism?
o What strategy should be adopted to tackle propagandas?
Then Shri Alok Bansal said that law and order machinery can control the problem of terrorism and may keep it below a certain level. But to finish or to weaken it, calibrated psychological methods have to be applied. Those are hatred among different parts of society; easily availability of manpower due to unemployment; mishandling of a situation or crisis by government and lack of economic activity in the area. Shakti Sinha continued the discussion by saying a mechanism of holding accountable should be placed in government offices for their role and there are many aspect of economy which leads to terrorism such as hawala and fake currency.
Session VIII: Economic Offences (Keynote Speaker: Shri Shakti Sinha)
In the concluding session, Shakti Sinha suggested that new methods in the financial market should be used to suppress the black money. On this Shri Arun Kumar said that not only a strict mechanism but a ‘Mansik Karanti’ is needed to get rid of these economic offences as morally it is no longer a crime in Indian psyche. He also said that government also plays a big role in increasing economic offences. He gave an example of J&K bank of Srinagar from where Rs 20 crore were disbursedby the State Government to distribute among the stone pelting youths. In Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim and Nagaland are exempted from paying taxes which is used for facilitating business interests.
The seminar was concluded with the vote of thanks proposed by Shri Hitesh Shankar, Editor of Panchjanya. He said the discussion was more fruitful that imagined and emphasised the need for frequent brainstorming on such issues. He thanked the participants and requested them to continue their association with the weeklies.
(Rappoteur: Heena Nanda with inputs from Arvind Kumar, J&K Study Centre)