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Can security be addressed through populism?
Posted:Apr 27, 2017
 
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By C Uday Bhaskar
 
A pre-dawn  suicide terror attack (fidayeen)  on an army camp in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday (April 27)   resulted in the death of three army personnel including an officer,  while two terrorists were neutralized. Combing operations are in progress to ascertain if any of the attackers have sneaked into the army camp.
 
This attack in the Chowkibal-Panjgam  area  of Kupwara is located near the LoC (Line of Control)  with Pakistan and  is the 10th such attack on the Indian security forces – or what may be deemed a ‘hard-target’ – since the Pathankot attack of January 2016 and is indicative of the tenacity of the adversary and the support from across the border.
 
Preliminary reports suggest that the terrorists were supported by the JeM (Jaish-e Mohammed)  but this is yet to confirmed.  Concurrently the protests within Kashmir against the state government and the security forces continues and stone-pelting  by students is aggravating the situation.  Social media - which was recently banned in the state - has been stoking the ‘anti-India’ perception in a disturbing manner.
 
The Kashmir attack was preceded by the Maoist attack in Sukma, Chattisgarh where 26 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed on Monday (April 24)  and this again was not the first such attack.  In April 2010 the CRPF had lost 76 personnel in a Maoist ambush. Yet few correctives were applied in a meaningful and sustained manner. 
 
India’s overall security challenge has become more complex and tangled over the last decade – and the internal and external  domains  warrant a rigorous and resolute  institutional  response that remains elusive.
 
It merits embarrassing recall that currently India does not have a full-time cabinet rank  Defence Minister and, till the Sukma  attack on Monday, the CRPF – the lead paramilitary force  responsible for internal security - was headless. A new chief (Director General) was appointed only on April 26 in a knee-jerk and  post-event reactive manner.
 
Major institutional  reforms are called for and whipping up emotive nationalism through  social media is not a substitute.  Or the loss of precious lives will continue - and what is even more shameful – in vain.
 
The state it appears has  abdicated from the  more serious task of  redressing national security inadequacies – and populism  is the higher priority.
 
(C Uday Bhaskar can be contacted at editor@spsindia.in)
 
 
 
 
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