In an age of sabotage and terrorism, no man, no place and no structure is really safe; no time of the day or night can be construed as safe. With the increasing complexity of human society with increasing claims on the limited resources of the world, the kettle of human life is spilling over with organised hatred and violence. Terrorism has become an international phenomenon. Accrescent unemployment makes terrorism popular by giving unemployed youth a raison d’etre for life and ideology to pursue. The lopsided material growth of 20th century life at the cost of contentment and inner peace has endeared to man the thrills and adventures of the life that fill up his inner void. New scientific inventions give man such sophisticated mechanisms and machinery that he can do anything he wants without being personally present at a place. Each man has potentially become a power to wreak vengeance, has made internal security an unsure field. It has become the primary challenge for the police force, replacing its hitherto main functions of crime control and maintenance of law and order.
The threat to internal security is often posed by highly trained and motiv.’.'ed volunteers belonging to highly organised and resourceful terrorist outfits. The unenviable task of providing protection to men, place and structures from these committed zealots with the choice of time, place target in their favour and any number of sophisticated methods and techniques of strike to choose from, continually sap the manpower, machinery and other resources of the police. Even in advanced countries the police find it difficult to cope with the problem. The police should have led in modernisation techniques with the antipode marching to keep pace. Unfortunately, it is not so in the Indian situation.
The reaction of the police to terrorist threats is desperate mobbing and covering the target at best and difficult immobilisation at the worst. Their inability to penetrate terrorist organisations has put it at a costly disadvantage. Their failure to draw up detailed long-term plans to meet terrorist challanges handicaps them in their operations. Internal security cannot be guaranteed without a sound knowledge of the terrorists’ way of functioning.
An internal security machinery working in a void often give rise to ludicrous security reactions. Anonymous calls or letters in most unlikely situations are attended to with a desperate mobilisation of men and machinery without scrutinising the call or the letter, and everything ends up as a hoax. An anonymous Kannada letter claimed to have been written by the LTTE was received in Mysore with the threat of blowing up the KRS dam on the intervening night of August 14 and 15, in 1991 and was later followed with similar threats of blowing up the Vidhan Sabha on the same night. Somebody wellversed with the LTTE objectives, expertise and method of operation would have dismissed the calls and the letters as a non-event. But the Karnataka police had to be prepared for an emergency because it was not equipped to handle internal security problems with courage and confidence. It is not wrong to be ready to meet threats but, the action should be subtle without fanfare and unnecessary show of.strength. Desperate reaction may prompt mischievous elements to shoot similar missions almost daily. Can the police react to all those letters similarly ? It is subtle planning and lowkey operation that make security possible. All security arrangements must be preceded by thorough research and detailed plans. This is completely forgotten in Indian situation.
Not many are involved in an expertly drawnup operational plan of sabotage. It is quality that counts and not quantity in both sabotage and security operations. Those who really execute the sabotage are highly motivated trained competent individuals. The larger the number, the smaller the chances of success because of human nature, coordination problems and higher chances of leakage. Also it involves the problem of providing security and escape routes for more men in the post-operational period. No number of policemen can stop a highly motivated and trained man from sneaking up to his target and destroying it. What is required is not companies of policemen, but a handful of highly qualified drawn up security plan, based on reliable intelligence inputs about the objects and operational plans of the adversary. Everything except these salient features is present in the responses of the Indian police to security challenges.
Indian security plans ignore the cardinal principle of a good reticulation, namely, providing security without coming in the way of the normal life of the target except where unavoidable. The essence of security buildup is protection with minimum inconvenience to the concerned. But Indian security sleuths feel otherwise. They believe in taking charge of the target, be it a place, an installation, or a person and dictating terms as though the security is given in exchange for freedom of movement and action. And all this for inadequate security. But even national leaders have traded their image and popularity for this supposed safety.
It is argued that the Indian security system is effective in discouraging the less resourceful terrorist outfits from attempting strikes and preventing half-hearted attacks. The argument is not convincing for the simple reason that all terrorist outfits worth the name are extremely resourceful with objectives, plans and strategies and a complete commitment to carry out their operational plans. No target is out of their reach. If a target is not struck for a long time, the reasons can be only three, (a) the outfit has. not really intended to strike, (b) the outfit is yet to equip itself or (c) that security sleuths could be exclusively covering the target making a strike impossible.
India should reach a stage where the third reason which is an exception now becomes the rule. The failure of capture Sivarsan and Subha, suspects in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, is a recent event. The chance intelligence, as early as in August, 1991, that both the extremists were holed up with others in a ramshackle house at Konanakunte in Karnataka did not enable the Indian security forces to catch them alive with all the time, resources and the element of surprise at their disposal.
This reflects on the serious loopholes in the field of security planning in India. Instead of inventing an undercover strategy to draw the extremists out or entering their den as friends with the help of undercover agents, the police failed to surprise the suspects and surround them. What happened was not only the suicide of the extremists which was expected but the operation to nab the culprits virtually ended there.
The reason for such bungling is that Indian security operation does not go much beyond the multiple crack forces—the Black Cats, National Security Guards, Special Protection Group and so on. Indeed, these crack forces are important but they are only the ammunition and not the weapon. An exhaustive internal security plan on which all security strategies and operations are based must be the gospel of the internal security religion. Sadly, India is yet to have such a macro-plan to guide its security sleuths.
The problems of security are manifold. First is intelligence collection. Often, true and false information are so much entwined that it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. Even if a piece of information is identified as true, it loses its value standing in the midst of useless material. That isolated piece of information is removed from the adversary’s action plan and when pursued leads to wrong conclusions and dangerous situations. Continued research is a must to utilise the information in action. This again depends upon the skill and experience of the individual or group of individuals who handle the job. Often, both the research and analysis are carried out under the pressure of time because of the proximity of the threat. Both intelligence and its source must be kept as a closely guarded secret. Any leak may prompt an adversary to modify his plan which will annul the security operation. This creates problems of mobilisation and deployment without rousing suspicion. The men to handle the security operation should be handpicked for competence and probity. Their antecedents and recent activities must be closely examined before they are cleared. It is the failure of security agencies to effectively carry out such preparations that cost India Indira Gandhi.
The briefing of security operations about the job itself poses a problem. The time of briefing must be carefully chosen so that while the gap between the impending operation and the briefing gives sufficient time to the operators for preparation, it must not be too long. The timing of briefing and development must be decided at high level to ensure perfect secrecy. And, how much can be told ? Security operation basically involves the creative initiative of the operator. His success depends upon the ability to assess the situation and pursue a better course of action without loss of time. Success also depends on how much briefing must be made to operators at ranks and levels and how much information and background knowlege can be fed to them. Here again, liberal outlets for vital information create security risks. The primary requirement of any security operation is a thorough study and analysis of intelligence and other inputs, a comprehensive plan of operation with flexibility to meet contingencies.
Timing is an essential ingredient of security planning and decides the success or failure of any operation. It lends the element of surprise.
Not that everything traditional is irrelevant today. For instance, the strategy of quadruple deployment—static guards, armed pickets, mobile patrols and striking forces for a static target. Standing guards, personal security officer, inner cordon, outer cordon and striking force are deployed for a human target while for a mobile target a security officer, escort, piloting and striking force will form the skeleton of the system. However, it should be borne in mind that this strategy in no way replaces specific security strategies; it only complements them.
Security, its.challenges and counter strategies are evergrowing phenomena. An effective strategy must foresee challenges and arm itself in advance. The country faces challenges from the Kashmiri Separatist Movement in the West, the ULFA in the East, the LTTE in the South and the naxalites in the Centre. The number of new security outfits coming up is an indication of India’s concern but then the accent is misplaced on quantity in the form of a new security outfit every time a serious security breach shakes the country, rather than improve the quality. Until the country learns the basic lessons of modern security, tragic deaths and destruction are bound to continue.