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Monday, 3 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 03 Aug 2015

No need to cry ISIS wolf
Improve ability to quickly counter urban terrorists
The previous Intelligence Bureau Director, Asif Ibrahim, cast the first stone about the ISIS's designs on India at a conference of the top police brass in Guwahati last year. Over the past fortnight, the number of oracles suggesting the ISIS' imminent entry into India has multiplied. Former Punjab Director General of Police K P S Gill hung the ISIS scare on the Gurdaspur incident peg. He did not specify how the day-long orgy of largely ineffectual shooting by three cornered men in a police station qualifies as the calling card of an organisation that specialises in ultra violence — executions and beheadings by the hundreds and forcing thousands of non-Sunnis into sex slavery and forced labour.

 The Indian media too has taken to advertising this irrational fear of an enemy that hasn’t progressed into the Shia parts of Iraq. In Afghanistan, the most fertile ground for its expansion, only a disgruntled rump of the Taliban has taken to calling itself the advance guard of the ISIS. Pakistan seems to have taken advance action by wiping out the entire leadership of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi that has carried out large-scale massacres of Shias. Former RAW chief AS Dulat has more accurately pinpointed the scenario that might lead to `lone-wolf' ISIS strikes. 

Inter-community divisions in the country have widened and in Kashmir, the ISIS’s five-star jihad appeal is tempting a small section of the Valley's youth. As Dulat has pointed out and much as the Delhi Durbar might resist, Pakistan cannot be wished away from the Kashmir issue. The people living in the Valley need to be given an exit from the current government's uncompromising stand on talks with Pakistan.  Police officers and intelligence operatives therefore must give a serious thought to overcoming the shortcoming in quickly eliminating holed-up terrorists. Any strike in the name of the ISIS will take this route and the police have faltered in urban warfare, both in Mumbai as well as in Gurdaspur. Drumming up irrational fears devoid of any understanding about the ISIS's methods and goals will only raise another spectre, one we can do without in these times of increasing inter-community polarisation.
Rising infiltration bids bare gaps in security
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Forty-two cases of infiltration and 68 of smuggling through the international border (IB) with Pakistan (mainly in Punjab and Jammu) have been reported this year. All these instances highlight the infirmities in the country’s border security, including shortage of manpower and underutilised or obsolete surveillance technology and procedures.

In reply to a question raised in the Lok Sabha during the current parliamentary session, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said 25 cases of infiltration were reported through the international border in the Jammu area up to June end this year. Three persons were arrested and one was killed by the security forces. Three cases of smuggling were also reported in the same area. In Punjab, 11 cases of infiltration took place during the same period, in which 11 individuals were arrested and seven were killed. Forty-two cases of smuggling were also reported.

Over the past couple of years, infiltration through the IB has reportedly increased as compared to the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K.

Sources in the BSF, which guards the 2,297-km IB with Pakistan, say that there is a need to increase the number of troops deployed along the IB. However, this may not be possible as the BSF reserve units have also been deployed in conflict areas in the hinterland.

“We have been deployed like a single thread along the IB. Our first line of defence is the strongest, but if an infiltrator passes through it, there is no second tier defence line, because we don’t have enough manpower. In extremely sensitive areas, there are ambush points located behind the first line of defence, however, the manpower deployed in these areas is not adequate,” sources said.

Following the recent cross-border firings along the IB in the Jammu region, the BSF has increased its deployment there. This has led to thinning down of troops in other areas along the IB. Training companies of units located in Punjab and Rajasthan are now deployed in Jammu. These companies are supposed to be undergoing training, besides rest and recoup.

“The troops deployed along the border are overworked due to shortage of manpower. Opportunities to take rest are limited. A jawan gets flogged day and night. If he is manning an observation post (OP) during the day, he is in ambush mode at the same spot at night. So, how does one expect these soldiers to remain alert,” sources said.

About 1,975 km of the IB has been fenced. But even the fence does not act as a deterrent, as the infiltrators have developed means of crossing it. Many riverine areas and tough terrains are unfenced. At such locations, the BSF has deployed more manpower, besides using anti-infiltration technology.

The use of anti-infiltration technology is also restricted. “Equipment such as handheld thermal imagers (HHTI) and Motorola sets are dependent on power supply. There are generators for charging these, but with a restriction on fuel consumption. Night vision devices are dependent on rechargeable batteries, but sometimes even these are not available. There are also a number of rivers that meander and flow along the IB. The possibility of terrorists using underwater techniques to get across can also not be ruled out. Technology to prevent this needs to be available if we are to eliminate infiltration completely,” sources said.
Jolted, state cops scramble to get act together
The incident has brought focus back on funds and training needed to deal with terror
Fighting hi-tech enemy with obsolete weapons

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 2
The Punjab Police is literally fighting anti-social elements with their hands tied at their back. Without sophisticated weapons and ammunition and training limited to few, policemen need a major push in training and equipment to take on Dinanagar-style terror attacks in better way.

The Centre's modernisation grant of Rs 100 crore for equipment and training of the police force is lying unused due to a delay in the execution of previous works.

The state police have modern weaponry, including MP (machine pistol)-series guns, but the ammunition provided by the state government is too old to be used.

This is the status of the training of the Punjab Police — which has recently been lauded by the Union Home Minister for preventing a major terror attack in Dinanagar.

The terror attack may change this scenario as the focus to arm the policemen well and to train them better and regularly is back in focus.

The question of funds and political will remains. Though the Centre has provided funds for weapons, the state government —whose purse strings are tighter than ever — has not given funds to buy ammunition for almost a decade.

CAG report
A Comptroller and Auditor General report (CAG) released in March reveals the shocking state of ill-preparedness.

Ten light machine guns (5.56 mm) and 18 Under Breeze Grenade Launchers for SG 553 rifles — bought from Israel and Switzerland three years ago — are lying unused as the compatible ammunition for those is yet to be procured.

The Bahadurgarh central armoury is using outdated cartridges, said the report. The Punjab police do not have an ammunition examiner also.

As many as 234 SG-553 Assault Rifles bought at a cost of Rs 3.55 crore from a Switzerland firm in May 2010 are also lying unused. The department purchased 234 magnifying reflex sights at an additional cost of Rs 1.48 crore from a USA-based firm to be fitted on the rifles. But those can't be fitted for want of an adapter.

The police are still using 10.55 lakh bullets of 9mm and 48.11 lakh rounds of ammunition of other weapons that have also outlived their utility by 10 years.

Giving details of the obsolete arms, the audit observed that 21,016 rifles (.303) and 4,839 muskets (.410) and 5,809 sten guns are still lying with field units awaiting replacement.

Training needs priority
While the condition of weaponry needs to be upgraded, the training of police personnel for a terror attack should be given top priority.

DGP (Training) SK Sharma told The Tribune that deliberations are on to increase the units of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team) which did a commendable job in the Dinanagar terror attack.

He said training the force was not a big issue but deploying them only for special operations was a big task.

"We are meeting this week to decide on how many more teams of SWAT or crack commandos are required and the logistics. We need to decide whether such teams will be at the disposal of the SSP or the range officers," the DGP said.

"There is a feeling that as the SSP of a district will be the first to respond to a situation, a team should be at his disposal. But then, we have to safeguard that these specially trained commandos are not deployed for other duty under any circumstances," he said.

He said the force needs to upgrade its weapons and ammunition also. "Modernisation is a regular process. We always need to upgrade. However, there are certain weapons like rocket launches which can't be in the domain of the police. We can use grenade launchers. We are going to send a requisition for more grenade launchers," he said.

On training, Sharma said that besides basic training at the time of induction, courses are conducted at the time of promotion also.

"We keep conducting refresher and special courses. Some are trained for VIP security specially, others for operation in built-in areas. But the problem is not of training. The problem is to keep them in shape for a specialised job. For this, they should not be deployed for other duties. This is the most difficult provision," he said.
Armed police to get regular training
Nikhil Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 2
The Punjab Armed Police (PAP) wing, the forces of which played an active role in combating the terrorists in Gurdaspur, has launched a special training programme for the forces engaged in various security services including deployment at vital installations across the state.

Earlier, there was no programme for providing training from time to time to these security personnel, but now, PAP has decided to make it regular.

The Armed Training Centre has also been mulling improvement in the training format to prepare the policemen to tackle terror strikes. Lapses by the forces in Dinanagar are also reportedly being analysed to close all loopholes.

Sources confirmed that PAP has called around 250 security personnel engaged with VIPs, bureaucrats, police officials and other dignitaries to overhaul their skills.

Talking to The Tribune, Pawan Kumar Uppal, Commandant, PAP Training Centre, said, "Apart from holding refresher training for security personnel engaged with VIPs and others, around 700 security persons engaged in the security of vital installations like power houses, railway over-bridges, Ranjit Sagar Dam and Pong Dam across Punjab have also been called to the PAP campus to refresh their weapons training."

The armed wing has over 500 Light Machine Gun (LMG) holders who are stationed with various battalions and forces across the state. Uppal said, "We will check if the LMGs are technically fit and whether the person holding the sophisticated gun is well versed with it."

Similarly, around 500 professionals — experienced in grenade handling — will also be given refresher training to operate the GPF rifles used to launch grenades.
Pak Rangers again violate ceasefire in Jammu region
Jammu, August 2
Violating the ceasefire yet again, the Pakistan Rangers resorted to firing of mortar bombs on border outposts along the international border in Jammu district on Saturday night.

“The Pakistan Rangers fired two mortar bombs on border outposts along the international border in the RS Pura sector around 10.40 pm on_Saturday,” said a senior BSF officer today.

BSF personnel guarding the border did not retaliate, he said. “There was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the Pakistani firing,” he said. This was the second ceasefire violation along the international border in the last 12 hours.

On_saturday, the Pakistan Rangers violated the ceasefire by resorting to small arms firing and mortar shelling on 23 border outposts along the international border in Akhnoor sector of Jammu district, drawing retaliation from the BSF.

Pakistani soldiers violated the ceasefire four times on July 29 and 30 along the Line of Control (LoC). There had been three incidents of sniper attack by Pakistani soldiers along the LoC in July. An Army jawan was killed in Poonch and two BSF jawans killed in similar incidents along the LoC in the Kashmir valley.

There have been 18 ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak border in July this year. Four persons, including three jawans, were killed and 14 others injured in the truce violations. —_PTI
Its 'Reigning' Eastern command officers among top brass of Indian Army
In what comes across as a pattern, officers from the Eastern Command of the Indian Army have come to form the top brass at headquarters in Delhi in recent past underlining the government's renewed focus on defence of India's eastern borders that , among other countries, is shared with China.

On Saturday, Lieutenant General MMS Rai took over as the Vice Chief of Indian Army. He replaced Lieutenant General Philip Campose who retired on Friday after more than 40 years into service.

While Rai, prior to this posting served as the Eastern Army Commander, Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi who served as Chief of Staff of Northern Command at Udhampur, took over the position vacated by him.

Notably, even as the the last three Chief of Army, namely, General Dalbir Singh Suhag (currently serving), General VK Singh (retired) and General Bikram Singh (retired) all headed the eastern Command at Kokata prior to getting the top post , Bakshi, is likely to be the next chief according to seniority of service and age.

Considering the strategic and defence challenges India faces on its eastern borders with China, besides with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal, it is only wise that top commanders have a solid exposures of eastern front, said a senior officer at the Delhi headquarters. India is raising a special Mountain Strike Corp on Eastern front comprising 88000-strong troop at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore. And top sources in the Army told dna that despite recent talks of downsizing the this Corp arising out of statements of fund crunch by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, there has been no shift of focus and almost 40 percent of it have already been raised.

"Problems on our eastern front, that forms the part of what we call in Army parlance the northern borders (borders with Pakistan denoted as Western borders), persist at a very high level. The day China turns around and move its focus out of its maritime problems in South China sea and gets into a conflict with India with which it undeniably has a big territorial dispute, we would have to to be prepared to tackle eventualities. There have been regular transgressions from across the border. Besides, we have huge insurgency problems in north eastern states and we have to deal with the conflicts in regions near borders with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan. Undoubtedly, we lay huge emphasis on these borders," said another top army commander at headquarters.

Headquarterd at Fort William in Kolkata, the eastern command of the Army encompasses the entire eastern theatre ranging from Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh towards the North, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram , Tripura and Meghalaya in the North-East and Assam and West Bengal.

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