Internal Security

Better Coordination and Intelligence Sharing Necessary

The Statesman | Dec 17, 2001

The-employment of the central security 'forces for internal security duties and counter-insurgency operations is mostly ad hoc and diverts their attention and resources from their primary roles.

India’s internal security environment has been further destabilised by the Maoist insurgency that has suddenly flared up in Nepal and the recent shenanigans of the People’s War Group in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Naxalites of the PWG are coordinating their activities with the ultra-leftists of the Maoist Communist Centre who are active in Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal. The PWG agitation in the Telangana area extends over several states. Both the organisations have been banned under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.

Subterranean tensions have been simmering for long in the Ramnad coastal belt of Tamil Nadu, fuelled by the Liberation _ Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The occasional violent outbursts of the Ranvir Sena and the erstwhile Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the latent movement for autonomy in the Gorkhaland region in northern Bengal and the Increasing fundamentalist Islamist influence along Rajasthan’s border with Pakistan do not augur well for internal stability.

Conflict management strategy

The long-drawn low intensity conflict (LIC) in Jammu and Kashmir shows no sign of winding down. Pakistan is continuing to wage a “proxy war” against India Dy providing active support to foreign mercenary terrorists despite having joined the International coalition against terrorism.

Pakistan has apparently learnt no lessons from the rout of its protégé, the Taliban. In keeping with its long-term strategy to destabilise India, the Pakistan army will spare no effort to push defeated Taliban militiamen and their mercenary Arab guests into J&K to add fuel to fire.

The militancy in some of the north-eastern states is also continuing though the cease-fire with the NSCN is holding in Nagaland. The tenuous Assam peace accord has not brought the expected dividends. Bodo and Ulfa militants are still waging a relentless campaign to achieve their political objectives despite the efforts Of successive elected governments to reach Out to them. The battle being waged against the security forces by disgruntled elements in Tripura hits the headlines with disquieting frequency. Militancy in Punjab, though dormant at present, could rear its ugly head again if the state exhibits signs of complacency. These are all pointers that India’s internal security will remain in a state of flux and that foreign organisations will Keep the militancy pot boiling in India.

The prevailing internal security environment demands an astute national-level conflict management strategy, comprehensive policy formulation and vigorous implementation, while simultaneously ensuring that requisite steps are initiated to address the socio-economic problems: that lead people to militancy. Law and order is basically a state subject and ideally, the constabulary and provincial armed police of the states infested by militancy should be capable of handling all but the most vicious forms of militancy with only short-term supplementary support from the central security forces. However, Pakistan’s “proxy war” and the level and intensity of the militancy in various states have led to the increasing involvement of the Central government’s police and paramilitary forces and the Indian army to bring the situation under control.

The-employment of the central security ‘forces for internal security duties and counter-insurgency operations is mostly ad hoc and diverts their attention and resources from their primary roles. Besides regular infantry battalions and other units of the army, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), the Territorial Army and the Assam. Rifles (AR), which are under the army’s operational control, have been deployed for internal security duties for over a decade. Other Central government CPMFs include the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Central Industrial Security and the. Special Service Bureau.

Unified Command

The employment of a plethora of forces inevitably results in the luck of cohesiveness and dissonance in the execution of policy. To reduce the employment of the army for internal security duties, the capability of the police and para-military forces at the disposal of the state and Central governments should be upgraded to enable them to tackle internal security problems. They must develop an army-like ethos and must raise their standards to match the army’s levels of leadership, motivation and training. The CRPF is the most suitable force for reorganisation as the primary central force for counter-insurgency Operations. Its leadership should be drawn through lateral induction of volunteers from the army, as was done when the BSF was initially raised CRPF units should be suitably equipped with modern close-quarter battle weapons and battalion-level support weapons.

For high-grade insurgency operations — with support, the Assam Rifles (in the northern states) and the Rashtriya Rifles (in the rest of the country) should be employed. Both these forces are army Iced and are organised into cohesive sector-level headquarters and battalions.

The regular army should not be employed for internal security and counter-insurgency unless unless it becomes absolutely unavoidable due to the presence of well trained and well-armed foreign militants and secessionist tendencies become evident. Even then it should only be for short duration surgical operations under the umbrella of the Armed Forces Special Power Act.
Another grey area in the management Of counter-insurgency operations is the lack of cohesion between the state government machinery and the central security forces for the planning and conduct of operations and day-to-day coordination, including the sharing of intelligence. A Unified Command must he established at the apex level in each state mired in militancy.

It should be headed by the chief minister “and should comprise the concerned corps commander of the army, the Chief Secretary, the Director-General of Police and the senior representatives of other CPMFs involved in counterinsurgency Operations, besides pooled civilian and military staff. The Unified Command should provide directional thrust for the conduct of operations as well as for waging a battle to win the hearts and minds of the estranged people as both must go hand in hand if the root cause of the insurgency is to be eliminated.

When a state is under President’s rule, the Governor himself must head the Command. Similarly, at the zonal and district levels, lower tiers of the Unified Command must be established. The divisional and brigade commanders of the army should head these with corresponding civilian and police representation and, in sectors where the army is not deployed, by the concerned inspector-general of police. Only then will it be possible for coordinated operations to be launched to achieve the laid down aims.

Long Term Solutions

The intelligence apparatus for gaining information about the plans and movements of various militant organisations and their linkages with foreign benefactors must be streamlined. Each type of force involved in counter-insurgency operations has its own intelligence agency and is loath to share intelligence with other forces. This results in a disjointed and uncoordinated approach and increases the human and material costs of conducting successful operations.

The Unified Command must establish institutionalised intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination structures at the directional, operational and the functional levels so as to achieve synergy in the conduct of operations. The communications system must be modernised and made compatible.

Finally, all-out efforts need to be made to find political solutions to the ongoing insurgencies. It needs to. be understood that there cannot be a military solution to a socio-economic problem. The army and Other security forces can only achieve temporary military control over the law ‘und situation and facilitate a semblance of normalcy to return. Such control lasts only as long -as the forces remain in situ and, even then brazen acts of violence by fidayeen suicide squads cannot be eliminated. The root causes of insurgencies require sensitive political handling for resolution and long-term strategies that are not based on vote bank politics.