Chowkidar Has Failed to Control Terrorism, Now Shifting Narrative to False Nationalism: Former ADG, BSF Argues
The ‘muscular policy’ in tackling militancy and statements of zero tolerance towards terrorism are empty slogans.
“Main Desh nahi jhukne doonga, Main Desh nahi bikne doonga” was the cry of victory a jubilant Modi gave during an election rally in Rajasthan held a day after the execution of Balakot air strikes. Different functionaries of BJP took on from there and announced widely varying figures of causalities during the air strikes.
Forgetting that only about ten days earlier, the militants had killed 40 CRPF soldiers in a dastardly attack, the protagonists of ruling party started claiming that Modi government had been able to control militancy and no major militant attacks had taken place during his regime.
A couple of months prior to the Pulwama attack, the Defence Minister in a speech at a convention of the ruling BJP, made a bold claim. “We have not had one major terrorist attack in this country after 2014,” she said.
The fact that so many attacks have taken place negate what the Defence Minister states and puts a question mark on what constitutes a “Major Attack”.
Do the attack on Pathankot where seven soldiers were killed, the attack on Uri Brigade where seventeen soldiers lost their lives or the attack on Udhampur Army base by militants constitute as major attacks? Not only this, there have been several attacks by militants on the CRPF convoys in South Kashmir leading to heavy loss of life of soldiers. It is surprising to find that the Government doesn’t consider any of these as major incidents.
Such extraordinary claims strengthen the charge of manipulation of data often levelled against the present Government.
What constitutes a major incident? The experts generally agree that “It’s a matter of perception” and factors like importance of target, outcome of the attack etc are considered.
According to South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), a major attack is any incident with three or more fatalities whether civilian or military. Keeping this definition in view, there were 388 “major” incidents in India from 2014 to 2018. These are significantly more than under the UPA from 2009 -14, especially in Kashmir where the incidents were steadily declining in the same period.
Kashmir saw highest fatalities related to terrorist incidents in a decade with 451 deaths in 2018.
According to the latest data compiled by the US State Department, India had recorded third highest numbers of terrorist attacks in 2016 at 927 attacks. 47% of these incidents were bombing/explosion and 18% were armed assault. Deadliest of these was in July, when a Maoist ambushed and killed 16 CRPF personnel in Bihar.
A reply submitted by the Home Ministry in Parliament states that there has been a 93% rise in the number of security personnel killed between 2014-18 in terrorist-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, besides 176% rise in the terrorist related incidents in the state. There were a total of 1,708 terrorist incidents ie average of 28 incidents per month.
The deaths in all three categories (civilians, security personnel and terrorists) between 2014 and 2018, have witnessed a rise with number of security personnel killed rising by 93%. The number of terrorists killed too have risen heavily by over 133%.
Another written reply in the Rajya Sabha indicates that almost 11 terrorists infiltrated every month between 2016-18 with highest number being 38 in June 2018.
Trends, however, indicate that the number of deaths from terrorist violence in the north-east has declined as compared to UPA rule thus indicating an overall improvement in the security situation in those parts.
The number of incidents and deaths in Maoist effected area due to militancy have also declined except in 2017 which was one of the deadliest year for security forces with CRPF suffering heavy causalities.
It can thus be seen that even though situation in the North East and Central India may have improved a little, the situation in Kashmir continues to remain serious with both security forces and civilians suffering heavy causalities and government data itself belies their claims that no major terrorist incident has taken place since 2014.
The acts of terrorism in Kashmir and central India remain unabated. There are several reasons for this. One of the major reason is that the Government has not been able to comprehend the crux of these problems and hence there is no continuity or clarity in the policy in resolving these. Another reason is that the incidents of human rights violation like the one by Major Gogoi go unpunished heightening the feeling of alienation.
The so-called muscular policy in tackling militancy or grand statements of zero tolerance towards terrorism appear just empty slogans. The surgical strikes and now the air strikes have failed to curb Pakistan and it continues to aid and support militants.
Statements like “no major terrorist-related incident have taken place in last five years” are thus aimed at diverting the national discourse during elections. The incontrovertible data tabled by the Government in Parliament itself is enough to call their bluff.
An attempt is being made to shift the entire political discourse towards false notions of nationalism and divert from real bread and butter issues. The narrative is to blow the trumpet of what India did in Pakistan (which remains unverifiable) and not what India has, had, should, could and would do in India to ensure a better future. And when the fight is with the unknown, for the unknown and by the unknown, everything else is beyond reality and gives ample space for all kinds of simulated, fake and confusing narratives.