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Srinagar: Negligence yet again
May 22, 2006
When a terrorist organisation uses a modus operandi for the first time, one cannot blame security agencies for being taken by surprise.
But when terrorists use the same MO again and again, and manage to surprise the physical security agencies each time, one has reason to feel concerned over the state of our security set-up.
On May 21, a jihadi terrorist, reportedly wearing a police uniform, managed to enter the venue of a public meeting in Srinagar carrying a hand-held weapon. He threw grenades and shot two policemen and five civilians before he was gunned down. Another terrorist, reportedly not in uniform, was also killed in an adjoining ground.
The meeting was to held mark the 15th anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, which is now observed nationwide as Anti-Terrorism Day.
The terrorist's objective was obviously to intimidate the local population by killing innocent civilians indiscriminately. He could have achieved this more spectacularly with an improvised explosive device.
Instead, he chose to kill with a hand-held weapon. Why?
Apparently because he had judged -- correctly as it turned out -- that it would be easier for him to infiltrate into the meeting venue with a hand-held weapon by wearing a police uniform than as a civilian carrying a concealed explosive device.
Since 2001, the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other jihadi terrorist organisations have been repeatedly using this MO for infiltrating into venues of public meetings and even the establishments of the security forces.
The latest incident in Srinagar shows that this serious deficiency remains unattended to.
The incident took place three days after a conference held near Delhi, which was attended by representatives of political organisations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan, who are opposed to the use of terrorism by Pakistan to achieve its objective in Jammu & Kashmir.
It took place one day before the third anniversary of the assumption of office by Dr Manmohan Singh as prime minister. It took place three days before Dr Singh's visit to Srinagar for his second round table conference with representatives of different Kashmiri organisations.
The jihadi terrorists are opposed to this round table. The pro-Pakistan extremist leaders in J&K are opposed to it too. Pakistan is uncomfortable over it lest India find a political solution to the grievances of those Kashmiris who have taken to arms without the involvement of Pakistan, which projects itself as the guardian angel of the interests of the Kashmiris.
Hence it was widely feared that the terrorists might attempt to disrupt the round table. One would have expected a strengthening of physical security measures, with special attention to the often-used MO of penetrating the physical security set-up by wearing uniform.
Yet a terrorist succeeded by using once again the same MO which the terrorists have been using since 2001. It needs to be mentioned that according to one eyewitness account quoted in the media, a J&K policeman did raise an alarm, but it was too late.
We have delayed for too long a comprehensive review of our physical security drill taking into account the changing -- and unchanging -- MO of the terrorists.
This review should be undertaken at least now.