Threats to security are real: Home secretary
17 April 2002
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
New Delhi: The Government is in action in Jammu and Kashmir. The strategy is to take on terrorist outfits in a ''direct combat'', Mr Kamal Pande, Union Home Secretary, has stated. And the strategy is also focussed on ''further deepening of democratic process'' and sustenance of developmental process over a period of time so that public opinion and energy were mobilized against terrorism. Mr Pande has in a detailed statement, informed the parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs that certain terrorist groups already possessed some of the weapons of mass destruction or were capable of acquiring them. As a result of this ominous phenomenon, the threat to internal security from terrorism of various forms— conventional, cyber, nuclear, biological and chemical— were, Mr Pande said, ''real and grave''. A total review of the existing disaster prevention and management systems, he divulged, was under way, in consultation with State Governments. At this, according to the Home Secretary, is to locate gaps and deficiencies and to initiate a process of filling the gaps and correcting the deficiencies so identified. Mr Kamal Pande has reiterated the Government’s decision to transfer the subject of disaster management (except management of droughts and famines) from the Agriculture Ministry to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). In this regard a detailed proposal defining structures required for disaster prevention, management and relief is being prepared, which, according to him, will be submitted to the Cabinet shortly for its approval. The Home Secretary has placed himself on record as saying that Pakistan’s proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir had, between 1990 and 2001, consumed nearly 27,500 lives in 52,000 incidents. Out of 27,500 deaths, 10,000 were civilians, 3000 security personnel and 14,500 terrorists. During the 12-year-long strife in Jammu and Kashmir, terrorists destroyed 633 educational buildings, 333 bridges, 11 hospitals, 1134 Government buildings, 10,263 private houses and 1932 shops. Mr Kamal Pande’s statement insisted that the graph of terrorism in J&K showed an increasing trend between 1990 and 1996. The decrease in terrorism was experienced thereafter, till 2000. But there was an upsurge in terrorist activities during 2001, registering 4,522 incidents compared to 3,074 incidents in 2000. This upsurge, Mr Pande said, could be partly ascribed to one-sided cease-fire declared by Government of India in November 2000 and partly to the fact that the terrorists were getting desperate under pressure of the Pakistani establishment on the one side and of the Indian security forces on the other. As a result, 919 civilians and 536 security personnel lost their lives during 2001. The Home Secretary’s account furnished to the parliamentary panel did highlight two features of terrorism in J&K during 2001—first, the attacks were more focussed on the security forces and their establishments and, second, the number of suicide attacks was on the increase. Last year, there were as many as 25 fidayeen (suicide) attacks. Mr Kamal Pande also emphasised that terrorist groups not only continued to operate from Pakistani soil but also continued to get assistance from the ISI and the Pakistani Army. The Home Secretary’s equally important finding: Contrary to its promises, Pakistan has done nothing to effectively restrict the movement, funding, training or recruitment of terrorism. All important terrorist organizations, including those which were banned by Pakistan, continue to have offices not only in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) but also in Pakistan. In order to deceive the international community, the banned terrorist organizations have been re-christened like Lashkar-e-Toiba is known as Pasban-e-Ahle Hadith and Jaish-e-Mohammed as Tehrik-ul-Furkan. However within Jammu and Kashmir, they continue to use their original names. In relation to the situation in Punjab, Mr Kamal Pande let it be known that the recent inputs indicated that Pakistan based terrorists of Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar), Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Zindabad Force and International Sikh Youth Federation (Rode) were desperate to undertake some ''sensational terrorist action'' in India because of constant pressure from the Pakistani ISI. He said that attempts to resurrect terrorism in Punjab also became evident from the continued recovery of large quantity of Arms, ammunition, explosives and sophisticated timer devices in Punjab. The Home Secretary cautioned that despite reverses and neutralization of some of their top rung activists over the years, the Khalistani terrorists still retained the capacity and substantial fire power to carry out acts of violence. It would be equally important, he said, to guard against any nexus between Khalistani and Kashmiri terrorist groups.