At present, there are three wars going on in the world, and all three have many lessons for Bharat to learn. Before we discuss the current Hamas-Israel conflict, we must dwell upon the other two wars and their ramifications in the context of Bharat.
There has been a long-drawn war going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2020 for the control of the region Nogorno-Karabakh which is named as Artsakh by Armenia, inhabited by people of Armenian origin but claimed by Azerbaijan as its territory. The intensity of the war has been varying for the past three years but again gained momentum in the month of September.
It is noteworthy that Russia, under an agreement, is bound to intervene militarily if Armenia comes under an attack from another country. However, when the Azerbaijani army started capturing the territory of Artsakh, Russians neither intervened nor apparently supplied requisite weapons to Armenia. The reasons can be diagnosed as Russia’s increasing proximity to Turkey, which is explicitly and vehemently weaponising and supporting Azerbaijan. Turkey has supplied, besides other equipment, its lethal Bayraktar drones to Azerbaijan, which single-handedly changed the course of the war in the latter’s favour. The same drones have been supplied by Turkey to Pakistan also, and our defence planners have to find an answer for the same.
Our strategists have to observe the developments on two counts: firstly, Russia cannot be trusted as a reliable supplier of war machines; it is embroiled in a long war with Ukraine and is falling short of equipment in that theatre; secondly, it has become a long term geo-strategic partner of China and under pressure from that country will be deterred from supplying us military hardware. All three arms of defence, army, navy and airforce heavily depend on Russia for supplies; by any estimates, more than 60 per cent of the equipment is of Russian origin.
In another war theatre of Ukraine, Russian weapons are being tested for more than one and a half years. Notably, we have T-72 and T-90 tanks of Russian origin in our army. Ukrainians have destroyed or captured more than 2000 tanks since the eruption of the war. Besides, the tanks have proved to be sitting ducks for the Javelin missile supplied by the USA to Ukraine. We have bought a costly S-400 air defence missile system from Russia; our defence experts need to probe the efficacy of the same in the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Most important lesson for us to learn is from the current Hamas-Israel war. Bharat has to closely watch the tactics adopted by Hamas and Israel’s response to them because we may have to deal with the same kind of tactics on the external as well as on the internal front. On external front, Pakistan has proved to be our bete noire for the past 76 years and some of the tactics adopted by Hamas have already been employed by the former and some other, in all probability, may be put to use by that country in future.
Hamas, in Gaza, has made an underground network of tunnels from where it is operating and launching attacks on the land of Israel, and it pushes terrorists across to the Israeli territory. Pakistan, on its part too, digs tunnels from its territory and the same stretch to our part of the border.
Especially in the Samba sector, many such tunnels have been discovered by the BSF; they are being used to push terrorists as well as arms to our area. Recently, incidents of ferrying drugs and small arms from Pakistan to Bharat by small drones have increased manifold. Especially in Punjab, every now and then, drones are discovered which have been used to bring contraband to our country from Pakistan. It is noteworthy that Hamas has used small and medium-sized drones against Israel in the ongoing war. As Pakistan’s wont and its proximity to the West-Asian terrorist organisations, it can use the same technology in Jammu & Kashmir.
Hamas has, for the first time, used motorised paragliders to send ultras to mainland Israel who wreaked havoc in a music party going on near the border. The said motorised paragliders can be assembled in a highly cost-effective way and can prove to be pretty handy for the enemy in the border areas.
In Bharat’s respect, all the above-discussed threats originating from the enemy territories, unfortunately, can crop up internally also. ISI of Pakistan, in collusion with local gangs like those controlled by Dawood Ibrahim and organisations like Popular Front of India (PFI), has created innumerable sleeper cells.
In the past also, these sleeper cells have wreaked havoc in Bharat through hundreds of incidents of terrorism. The serious issue is with newfound instruments like drones and paragliders, the terrorist organisations can impact the internal security matrix tremendously.
As far as securing our borders is concerned, low-flying drones and paragliders cannot be detected by the radars. Therefore, the installation of more watchtowers on the border and Line of Control (LOC) has become imperative.
CCTV coverage, too, has to be made more effective. The most meaningful measure, in this regard, will be to train villagers staying in border areas to discern any suspicious flying objects and inform the same to the nearby security posts.
Internally, challenges have different dimensions but cannot be taken lightly. Imagine terrorists, from 10 different locations, flying in motorised paragliders barging into high security or economic targets and creating unprecedented security mayhem. Internal security apparatus has to update itself with this kind of security matrix apart from challenges emerging from the cyber security field.
Most importantly, awareness has to be created on mass level. For example, during the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, terrorists landed on the Southern tip of the city from the Arabian Sea, unnoticed and swiftly positioned themselves in places like CST station, Cama hospital, Leopoldo cafe, Trident hotel, Chabad house and Hotel Taj. The entire exercise went unnoticed till the ultras fired the first shots from their guns.
Law enforcement agencies should undertake citizen training programmes in the context of the security paradigm. Ordinary masses must be made aware of suspicious moving people and should be asked to inform police if they notice any flying objects like drones or paragliders in the notified zones.
In Bharat, the number of private security personnel is estimated to be in the vicinity of 1 crore. Normally, the guards are either registering visitors in the buildings or supervising vehicular parking. They should be trained in the job of localised vigilance, too. Private security agencies should be mandated to give appropriate training to their guards in this respect, and clients must insist on hiring qualified personnel in comprehensive security duties, including monitoring CCTV footage.
In the past, our internal security apparatus has been taking counter-terrorism measures after specific incidents take place. The need of the hour is to take proactive and preemptive initiatives to thwart such incidents. We must keep in mind that terrorist organisations like PFI may not be visible on the ground, but they are proliferating underground.