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Monday, December 6, 2010

Armed forces and civil societies

Below is an ad verbatim presentation of the statement issued by PRO defence on November 30, 2010 as it appeared in Kashmir Times on December 3, 2010. At this stage I would refrain from commenting on it except for pointing out the blatant disregard for the norms expected from armed forces in a civil society. -Rajiv Kumar

“A quiet Srinagar afternoon on 29 Nov was shattered by the familiar sounds of gunfire. Three well armed motorcycle borne terrorists were gunned down by the Police, while one policeman lost his life. This happened on the outskirts of demilitarised Srinagar. Terrorists had once again shown their presence for the second time in a month as if to remind the world that militancy was still alive and kicking in Kashmir.

The clamour to remove bunkers and thin out the police/paramilitary presence from the urban areas had compelled the Omar Abdullah government to give in. Though it appeared to be a well considered decision, but the latest incident has raised many questions. While it may have pleased a few hardline separatists and their ISI handlers is Pakistan, but what about the common man in the valley. The state capital has shifted to Jammu. Therefore, will the reduced security and visible absence of the security forces raise uncertainties, fear and doubt in the minds of the populace during the long winter ahead

The incident of 29 Nov cannot be wished away as isolated. Hopefully, it is not a precursor to many more to follow. It has clearly demonstrated the presence of hardline terrorist elements lurking inside cities and towns

It is a known fact that with the onset of winters, terrorists choose to seek havens inside urban and semi urban areas. This is even at the risk of being recognised or compromised. It would be foolhardy for them to therefore seek contact with the security forces within their own safe areas. But then why were these terrorists trying to move inside Srinagar during mid-day at 12 AM, and that to fully armed? Could they have had a larger scheme in mind. Were they possibly on a strike mission emboldened by the thin presence of the police and para military? May be a serious incident was averted. But there is a clear writing on the wall - that reducing security is not the answer.

Sources in the police and intelligence agencies who do not wish to be quoted still maintain that it may have been imprudent to thin out security forces from the urban areas. But political compulsions had compelled Omar Abdullah to convince New Delhi in the aftermath of the visiting all Party Delegation .Then there is also the talk of removing AFSPA from Srinagar to be contended with. How will those in power justify to the people if there are a few more incidents like this?

Meanwhile, the J&K Police needs to be complimented for their proactive approach in tracking and neutralising these terrorists. May be a deceptive thin visible presence on ground combined with effective hard hitting covert operations is the answer to conduct such counter terrorist operations in the present . But the lesson is clear. You cannot let your guard down, as this may be just be the tip of the iceberg.”

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