Serious Security Issues in Handling Terrorism
Prof N.K. Singh
What has happened in Mumbai during Book release of Khurshid Mohammed Kassuri and black painting of face of Sudhendera Kulkarni has caught attention of the media and has been splashed across the nation but what the book contains and how it exposes hallowed security system of India is not noted by majority of the media and news channels. Kasuri’s book in more than nine hundred pages does not reveal much of what Pakistan is doing or its diplomatic strategies and policies. On the other hand it shows detailed exposure of India’s porous security system and lack of leadership in making decisions on crucial matters in time. It is difficult to authenticate the facts as narrated by him but since these are in print and in public domain it is up to those who are mentioned in the book to vouch for it or to contradict it. So far nothing has come out to rebut him.
Kasuri tells a very poignant story of vacillation and unpreparedness of Indian government in tackling 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai. Kasuri’s version can be summarized in following words; First meeting took place with PM on November 28 Manmohan Singh, A.K. Antony, National Security Adviser M.K. Naryanan, Chiefs of Intelligence Bureau and Raw, Chiefs of Navy, Air, and Dy. Chief of Army (as Chief was away on a foreign tour). First alternative response to Pakistan considered was cold start that is like peripheral attack and it was discarded as the Dy. Chief of Army wanted to wait for the return of the Chief from foreign tour. Naval action was not conceived as Naval Chief said they are not ready. Already Intelligence agencies were livid with Navy for not intercepting the boats carrying terrorists when they were aware that boat off Karachi port was coming and Raw was informed by the CIA.
Next, Air Chief was ready for selected targeting terror camps but wanted exact coordinates. Intelligence had no idea about it and Air force did not want to hit civil population. Covert operation was also discarded as India lacked capability. All the five alternatives were suggested by civil officer and not by forces and these were stated to be focused on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. He expresses surprise that all options were suggested by civil experts and nothing from uniformed forces. Finally all were discarded although in the beginning of meeting, all wanted to punish the attackers’ bases as it was confirmed later also that Pakistani citizens were carrying out the attack on the Hotel Taj.
Finally India opted for diplomatic alternatives and perhaps cancelled cricket match. The entire narration is serious indictment of India and its government on an issue for which the public outrage was boiling at that time. Any sensible citizen would hang his head in shame on this account unless it is false as still no confirmation or denial has come but it is in the book in black and white without any contradiction. It raises also many serious issues:
First how Pakistan knew all this and how details were available about the top secret meeting of India to enemy country or its former minister. When a country was facing emergency why after even two days when the operation was on army chief was not called and meeting held without him? When he attended meeting on December 2, the situation was no different. Why only civil personnel were suggesting strategies and army or navy and air force had no ideas to deal with the situation? Why no creative plan was not explored or developed to take Pakistan by surprise?
In two serious cases of security violations first the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane when Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister and on terror attack of 26/11 the Indian response was late and also very laid back and devoid of guts or courage. They failed to learn any lesson from Israel and other nations who have done much better handling of emergency situations like this. Handling of hijacking was also a disaster as were bargained very costly exchange of terrorists with release of passengers and air craft. Plane should have been stormed at Amritsar but entire delay and inexperience of people handling it spelled doom. It is important to review the entire security preparation and learn lessons from these two serious mishandled terrorists’ intrusions in our security shield.
First Passenger: Why these Shiv Saniks are behaving in a rowdy manner and scuttling cricket match?
Second Passenger: They are imitating the behaviour of MPs in Parliament.