Gurdaspur Terror Attack A Warning To India
No one is saying that we are likely to witness a return to the days of extreme terror in Punjab. Yet, Punjab is a rim land (border) state and its strategic significance is also its physical connect with J&K
Pakistan is in a comfortable position with Americans giving money, Russians supplying weapons and China providing logistical support. Hence, it is on an offensive. This was what reflected in three Pakistani fully armed terrorists attacking the police station in Gurdaspur, apart from the signal that it has expanded its target area. Retired Major General Afsir Karim said that the Pakistani Generals were concerned for some time that attacks in J&K were not leading to a substantial reaction all over India, and outrage and the outcry in the UK and the US where a large number of Sikh families are settled.
By striking in Gurdaspur, the Pakistani Generals are attempting three things. First, expanding the arc of militancy/terror to draw in the army; it has successfully done so in the Jammu to Pathankot sector. “Greater the deployment of the Indian army in Counter Insurgency (CI) duties, less its availability for training and more the fatigue on its men.” Secondly, what a retired Lt General remarks. He says the entry of terror in Punjab forces the expansion of the area of surveillance by Indian intelligence agencies, thereby diluting their focus on J&K. Thirdly, it is the psychological messaging—attempting to convey our vulnerability and their strength, their ability to pick and choose their targets and the timing for striking.
Pot-bellied or heavyweight policemen with arms much inferior to that of terrorists is another reason for the casualty on our side. The police in Punjab has had its share of problems over 20 years ago and a remnant of separatist terrorist leadership still exists abroad, especially in Pakistan. One could see that our policemen lacked agility and were not trained to tackle terrorist onslaughts.
The Badals administrative culture and widespread drug abuse have also caused current administrative woes and the social turbulence brought on by the culture of drug abuse makes it extremely vulnerable. No one is saying that we are likely to witness a return to the days of extreme terror in Punjab. Yet, Punjab is a rim land (border) state and its strategic significance is also its physical connect with J&K.
Still, it is not clear whether the terrorists came from Jammu side or from across the border. If they came from Jammu area, said Gen Afsir, it means Pakistan plans to keep it operations in Jammu, and that indicates that Pak Generals will cover both J&K and Punjab for its terrorist activities from Jammu area. This is also more convenient for crossing the border. The border along the valley is very well sealed and supervised. It has become difficult to infiltrate into the valley but there are porous inlets along Jammu area. Intelligence warned that Pakistan would try to create another Khalistani movement.
Expanding the arc of turbulence and terror into its geographical region can only be a worrisome threat to India’s security community, said a General. The failure to blow the railway tracks has been providential. We cannot push our luck too far.
“After Ufa, were we awaiting such a strike? The Indian border and portions of the LoC did go live with exchange of firing but it stopped. It was an excellent ruse. Low level activity and then ceasefire, before hitting hard. This fits in well with established patterns of the past when violence of some form was always timed with high-profile diplomatic activity to convey a message.”
However, the proliferating terrorist activity spreading from Jammu into the gateway to India is definitely worrisome. The Punjab and J&K police have to coordinate intelligence and the BSF needs a larger footprint along the along border. The Indian Border fence has to be made high-tech with induction of better surveillance systems. All these need to be done almost overnight. More such attempts can be expected and the parleys that are set up for the next few months have to address this with Pakistan before sentiments in the street demand more proactive action across. Options with India are very limited.
By Vijay Dutt