Before you start reading this take note: If Israel were in India’s place, Pakistan would have either become a desolate landmass or would have been torn down into three or four parts a long, long time ago.
Now we head to the three problems:
Irrespective of what the human rights groups claim about immigration, one cannot deny that porous borders are dangerous for any country’s security. Not every country in the world enjoys the security offered by natural barriers, such as seas and impassable mountains. But every developed country would attempt to erect barriers and prevent the flow of illegal migrants to protect both its economic and political structures.
The United States too faces the problem of illegal immigration from Mexico. But Mexicans are neither radical Islamists nor jihadis. One must note that the US faces an immigration problem, not an infiltration problem like the one faced by India. Yet it is India’s border security that is highly questionable.
The fencing of India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh has been on for years now and yet there are still areas which remain unfenced, especially along the Bangladeshi side.
This video shows the glaring loophole in keeping a vigil along the fenced borders, too. Some illegal immigrants are transporting cattle using a pulley like structure over a fence between India and Bangladesh.
The video was taken from the Bangladeshi side at Lalmonirhat district which shares a border with Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. That so many men succeed in smuggling cattle for such a long time clearly points at the glaring loopholes in border security. Thankfully, these are cow smugglers – common criminals – and not terrorists.
Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh have been slipping into India for a long time, drastically changing the demography of some of the Indian districts along the border in an inexplicable manner. Some of the illegal immigrants are jihadis-in-making while some others are radicals of the worst kind. Cases in point are those involved in the Burdwan blast and those who succeeded in issuing a fatwa on a women’s football match – both in West Bengal.
At the same time, narcotics smuggling from across the border in Punjab has raised questions on the credibility of the BSF. Even Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said he wants the Centre to press the BSF to stop narcotics smuggling from Pakistan into Punjab, clearly hinting at the weakness. Fingers were also pointed at border security during the Pathankot terror attack.
While the BSF guards India’s international border, the Army keeps a vigil along the LoC – a disputed region. Yet terrorists often sneak through the LoC into India and carry out attacks.
Yes, not all attacks can be stopped but it is possible to keep all terrorists from infiltrating in the first place by raising manpower and using advanced equipment.
A BSF soldier walks past captured cattle at an unfenced section of the Indo-Bangladesh border. Reuters
To ensure that the borders remain impenetrable, state governments, the Centre and the security agencies will have to actually coordinate rather than claim that they are coordinating. The BSF in West Bengal itself urged the Centre to ask the government to provide land for fencing because the state was not responding to its plea – which explains why some areas are still unfenced.
At the same time, a huge sum needs to be spent to acquire the latest technology for effective border guarding. This includes drones, night vision equipment, motion detectors, laser walls, and more manpower armed with the latest weapons. But what must also be done is to implement immediately whatever measures are taken.
A quick fix: Money and men utilized for guarding every goddamn politician in this country should be diverted in acquisition of such technology. Plus, you also get more men.
In January 2013, Pakistani Rangers entered Indian side of the LoC, killed two of India’s soldiers and beheaded them. They took one of the heads with them back to Pakistan. What followed was exchange of gunfire along the LoC between the two armies described as the worst in 10 years. What didn’t happen – but should have – is that Indian forces didn’t enter Pakistan, wipe out those who killed their brothers in arms and, perhaps, take control of whatever territory they could. But India’s silence was expected; the ‘retaliation’ has been so for years now.
In 2001, the Indians had the best chance of a military retaliation following the attack on the Indian Parliament by terrorists backed by ISI and groomed in the badlands of Pakistan. The Indians lost that opportunity for reasons both strategic and political.
Attacks after attacks have been happening against India. Soldiers have been dying almost on a regular basis. There have been 17 attacks by terrorists since the Pathankot attack this year. Yet the military leadership is forced to advice the government against “rash military action”. And the government has always tried to play it safe.
For reasons inexplicable, India’s leadership exercises restraint when there shouldn’t be any. Such restraint, though is praiseworthy in the eyes of the international community, is pusillanimity in the eyes of the enemy.
A soldier of the Indian Army guards the LoC in Kashmir. Reuters
Yes, the current government is stronger and more resolute than the previous government. But the pusillanimity showed in the 10 years before its arrival has created a system where not everyone is willing to take the ultimate risk of war, even though it might solve the problem permanently.
At the same time India has failed to build up a weapons arsenal like a country with a perennial enemy on one side and a not-so-friendly neighbor on the other (read China) should have.
The Air Force is everything but a force to be feared – India has some of the world’s finest pilots flying obsolete machines. The Army lacks proper assault rifles and equipment needed to fight terrorists armed with AK-47s. The Navy is short of submarines. The number of attack helicopters is a joke given the kind of multi-pronged threat we face. Perhaps this is why India is not too willing to go for a war.
Another problem is also in the lack of coordination between the various intelligence agencies such as IB, R&AW and military intelligence.
For reasons best known to the agencies themselves, there was a “lapse” in intelligence gathering which led to the attack on the army brigade in Uri. Forget a war, no country can defend itself without eyes and ears in the sky, the air and the sea. It is their intelligence agencies that have kept Israel and the United States practically very safe. It is because of this reason that England is set to raise the numbers of external intelligence staff by 41 per cent by 2020. But despite countless lapses, India’s intelligence set-up is very, very weak.
As of now, the MoD handles all aspects of the armed forces while the MHA handles the intelligence wings. A coordination is essential between the armed forces and intelligence agencies for a more effective security structure.
Something is also wrong with the weapons procurement policy. Even God cannot explain why India goes for the costliest fighter jets when equally competent ones can be bought at a cheaper price. And is it better to wait forever for a very good foreign-made assault rifle or use an immediately available indigenous gun which is better than the current one?
Pakistan has only stepped up their proxy war against India following the former’s defeat in the Kargil War. They have, as even India’s military leadership acknowledges, built strong defence structures ready to face any Indian retaliation. Of course, retaliation can be done with caution but India can never think of doing an Abbottabad-like raid for both logistical and political reasons.
As Major General G.D. Bakshi writes, “The prime lesson is the need for offensive action. Being totally on the defensive is the surest recipe for failure.”
So India needs to do this: Show spine when needed and arm the military to the teeth. If these are not done, India will lose this proxy war against Pakistan.
There are many in India who openly supported the call for ‘azaadi’ of Kashmir. These include students from prestigious institutions, writers, activists and lecturers from across India. Collectively called “Liberal-Secular intelligentsia”, these are the people who took out protest marches against the Indian Army and the government on the streets of Kolkata and Delhi while sloganeering for the separation of Kashmir from India. Some lecturers openly teach the students that India is an “occupant” and that Kashmiris have a right to side with Pakistan.
Then there are other ‘eminent intellectuals’ who called the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani “extra-judicial”. That “extra-judicial” stuff was immediately picked up by Pakistani news outlets to accuse India.
Then there are journalists who have chosen to see secularism and Kashmir with the eyes of the Islamists, Separatists and everyone out to break India. Protesting against the beef ban is acceptable but sympathizing with the stone-pelters of Kashmir while ignoring the injuries of Indian soldiers is not. Wani’s death was written about by these journalists in sympathetic style. Forget the style, those journalists didn’t even give space for a story on the life of the martyred soldiers.
It is these people who Pakistan uses as examples to claim its innocence on the world stage. It is these people who are technically – whether they themselves know it or not – giving the enemy the ammo to target India.
And there are of course groups who use the shield of secularism to carry out their activities even if they might infringe upon the rights of other groups or go directly against the laws of the land.
Such voices have become emboldened because of the governments both at the Centre and the states. Why is it that the solidarity march with JNU carried out in West Bengal? Why is it that radical Islamists find it very easy to issue anti-women fatwas in West Bengal? Why is it that Kerala is a ripe recruiting ground for Islamic State? The answers lie in the political structure.
Vote bank politics is the norm in India. The arrival of illegal immigrants because of porous borders led to the creation of a vote bank that any power-hungry political leader would like to exploit. On the other hand, states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu always vote along the lines of caste. In Kerala, ideology dominates everything else.
The situation has become so sick in India that even the police in certain states will think twice before arresting a radical Islamist just so they do not get on the wrong side of the netas (in Europe this phenomenon is called ‘political correctness’).
Yes, free speech is something that must be allowed in a democratic country like India’s. But if a select group of ‘thinkers’ from within the mainstream society start misusing the same right and shower abuses on those defending the land then the government must step in. At the same time, the government also needs to ensure that they themselves do not cross the line while going for a counter approach with such voices. But only a government true to the country and working for the country’s greatness can achieve something like this.
The future of a country is bleak where political leadership is elected on the lines of everything but merit, where the police force finds its hands tied by such leaders and where a select group of powerful intelligentsia tries to draw a wedge between communities for their own selfish needs.
The solution to this problem is the toughest but a pragmatic solution is needed for the united strength of a nation’s society.
The reason why the opening line is significant here is because Israel is far more threatened than India, yet the enemies of Israel themselves live in fear of Israel. Why? Because Israel takes its border security seriously – very seriously. Israeli military and political leadership, backed by its superb intelligence agency, never harbour second thoughts before taking military action against enemies of Israel whenever the need arises. And, the people of Israel are always together when it comes to the nation’s security.