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From 26/11 Helpless State to an Era of Surgical Strikes – How India’s Security is being Strengthened

Mumbai attack

It has been 10 years since our country witnessed a terror attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, when terrorists went on a killing spree at various places in the city.  This gruesome act of terror took hundreds of innocent lives until our brave security forces completely neutralized the terrorists. It can be said that India’s security vulnerabilities at that juncture were open to the world, as the terrorists had, in a way, proved that they can easily attack Mumbai, the financial nerve center of India, at will. A mammoth discussion about various lapses in the Indian security apparatus took place on public platforms. Nevertheless, many other terror attacks that took place after the 26/11 Mumbai attack suggested that the government at that time was near clueless in preventing terror attacks in major cities.

One may ask, were there no terrorist attacks under the Modi Government? The answer is, of course, there are. Two major attacks have happened, one at Pathankot and another at Uri targeting the military bases. It is not that these do not matter, however, terrorists are no longer able to carry out an attack on major cities outside of conflict zones, targeting civilians wantonly, as we have seen a number of times under the UPA’s decade-long rule. While the previous UPA Government emphasized on adding the ‘Hindu Terror’ angle to the context, and failed to take any tangible step against terrorism, the current government has taken effective anti-terror measures on priority.

Attacks Continued Even After 26/11

The country witnessed unabated terror attacks even after the 26/11 Mumbai attack. If one considers the terror attacks in which Left Wing Extremists (LWE) were involved, it goes into a huge number. Let us recount some Islamic terrorist attacks in major Indian cities.  The below attacks speak volumes about the inefficiency of UPA-2 in tackling the terror effectively.

  • In February 2010, bomb explosion in Pune’s German Bakery, that killed 17 people and injured nearly 60 people.
  • In July 2011, Mumbai witnessed a triple bomb explosion in which more than 25 people were killed and 130 people were injured.
  • In September 2011, a blast outside Delhi High Court killed 15 people and injured 79 people.
  • In February 2013, twin blasts in Hyderabad took the lives of 17 people and injured more than 100 people.

These were just some of the major examples of terror attacks in the country. All these attacks were essentially underlining the fact that even a few years after the Mumbai terror attack, India was not in a position to claim that it will not let another 26/11 happen again.

Security Scene in India Changed After 2014

In the past 4 years, the strengthened security scene under the Modi Government can be summarized as below:

  • Except in Jammu & Kashmir, which has a long-troubled history throughout, no major terrorist attacks targeting civilians and major cities have happened under four years of the Modi Government.
  • LWE terrorism has been largely contained better under the Modi Government.
  • India’s response to a terror attack is no longer limited to condemnations and appeals to the international community. Surgical Strikes after the Uri attack sent a stern message to terrorists that India will not tolerate such attacks and will reply in a befitting manner.

The assertion that India has not let any major terrorist attack happen and has protected civilians, may seem quite simple on the face of it. But considering various terrorist attacks in the last four years on other countries which are perceived to have more sophisticated security apparatus, India’s accomplishment becomes more prominent, given its geopolitical realities.

  • On November 2015, terrorist attack on Paris killed 130 people and wounded 490 people.
  • On December 2016, Berlin truck attack killed 12 people and injured 50 others.
  • On June 2017, London Bridge attack took lives of 8 people and wounded 48 others.

That India has not let such incidents happen on its soil does point towards the effectiveness of India’s security measures under the present government.

Continuous Efforts by the Modi Government to Curb Terrorism

We can perhaps trace the effectiveness of the government in the following points:

  • Evolving larger global consensus on fighting terrorism and isolating terror sponsors like Pakistan;
  • Actions boosting the soldiers’ morale;
  • Modernizing security establishments;
  • Developing a technological edge.
Building Global Consensus Against Terrorism

Getting a sympathetic response from the global community at the time when terror strikes and taking their specific commitment towards curbing terror are two different things and obviously the latter is much stronger and powerful. Ever since the Modi Government came to power it has used every global platform to get the commitment of fighting terror and isolate Pakistan which is one of the prominent sources of terror in the world.

  • There was near unanimous international support for India’s surgical strikes as a move within India’s rights to neutralize terror aimed at it.
  • Because of India’s persistence, commitment in fighting terrorism with zero tolerance to terror activities was added in major documents such as: G20 Leaders’ Statement on Countering Terrorism (July 7, 2017); BRICS Leaders’ Xiamen Declaration (September 4, 2017); Qingdao Declaration of the Council of Head of States of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (June 10, 2018); 10th BRICS Summit Johannesburg Declaration (July 26, 2018).
  • Many terrorist entities and individuals who find shelter in Pakistan and are also engaged in terrorism against India have been proscribed by the United Nations (UN), the European Union and other countries.
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at its Plenary in June 2018, had notified Pakistan in the ‘Grey List’ due to the continuing terror financing related concerns, including with respect to the UN proscribed terrorist entities like LeT, JuD, and Falah-i-Insaniyat.
Surgical Strikes - Boosting the Morale of Security Forces

Giving the military forces a free hand in responding to specific situations and owning up the retaliatory attacks in front of the world, has given a major boost to the morale of our soldiers.

  • In September 2016, India conducted a daring and risky operation of surgical strikes against the terrorist bases in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir within days of the Uri terrorist attack.
  • On the whole, security forces, such as in Kashmir, have been given the necessary operational freedom to pursue terrorists and take on each of their operations to its conclusion if they refuse to surrender, while at the same time ensuring that locals do not feel victimised or alienated.
  • In June 2015, a surgical strike was conducted along the Indo-Myanmar border that had caused heavy casualties to terrorists camped in the deep jungles of the Myanmar border. The attack was in response to the incident in which insurgents ambushed and killed 18 Indian soldiers.

India under the Modi Government has passed a specific message to the enemies, that is, if the Indian interests are harmed by any party, they will have to pay a heavy price.

Modernising Security Forces

The Police Force acts as a primary responder and also as a collector of intelligence at the grassroots.

  • The Modi Government has approved an enhanced outlay under the umbrella scheme of ‘Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF)’ with a total outlay of Rs 25,061 crore.
  • Under this umbrella scheme, a sub-scheme of ‘Assistance to States for Modernization of Police’ with an outlay of Rs 7,380 crore has been approved for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20. This sub-scheme is in continuation of the scheme of Modernisation of State Police Forces. Under this sub-scheme central assistance to States has been provided for the acquisition of security/surveillance/communication equipment, modern weaponry, forensic equipment etc.
  • The army which was deprived of the basic equipment like bullet-proof jackets and helmets in the previous administration has been benefitted under the Modi Government.
Technological Edge

If we recall the 26/11 attack, terrorists were equipped with modern communication equipment. The Modi Government understood the need for tuning the security framework to the modern cyber era and acted accordingly. To name a few examples in this regard:

  • When PM Modi took over, it came to the notice in one of his meetings with the higher officials that India had an outdated record of its islands. The government acted swiftly and asked ISRO to help in this regard and now it has satellite imagery and the entire geospatial database of islands, which is crucial.
  • Coastal security management is also now in tune with various technological interventions, such as the issuance of biometric ID cards to fishermen.
  • For the very first time, in 2015, the Modi Government created a Cyber Security Chief’s position.
  • National Information Board has been formed which looks after the implementation of the National Cyber Framework, and it holds regular meetings with various ministries.
Conclusion

The previous UPA Government failed to take concrete steps to curb terrorism even after 26/11. Instead, it raised the ‘Hindu Terror’ bogey that has now been seen as sinister by many. This act had further weakened India’s position in fighting terrorism. But the Modi Government showed urgency and strengthened the security framework of this country comprehensively. In addition, demonetisation and other NIA action that cracked down upon terror funding sources also hit terror financing hard. At a time when countries like UK, France suffered due to many terror attacks that caused huge civilian casualties, India has grown as a secure space in the absence of such terror attacks. Obviously, a lot beyond what has been explained here, has taken place under the Modi government which has safeguarded India against terror attacks.

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