Internal Security Issues 101 – Cross Border Terrorism | Part 2

In the second part of the Cross Border terrorism series, we focus on Indian institutions, e.g. the police, intelligence agencies, dealing with the issue,  the problems with the present set-up and possible solutions and reforms. (The first part of the series is here.)

India’s counter terrorism set-up:

1. The state police and its intelligence set-up: Under India’s federal Constitution, the responsibility for policing and maintenance of law and order is that of the individual states. The central government can only give them advice, financial help, training and other assistance to strengthen their professional capabilities and share with them the intelligence collected by it.

2. The national intelligence community: This consists of the internal intelligence agency (Intelligence Bureau), the external intelligence agency (Research and Analysis Wing), the Defence Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence directorates general of the armed forces and the National Investigation Agency.

  • The IB collects terrorism-related intelligence inside the country and RAW does it outside.
  • The DIA and the intelligence directorates general of the armed forces essentially collect tactical intelligence during their counter-terrorism operations in areas such as Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, etc, where they are deployed.
  • The NIA is the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency which collects, collates and analyses counter terrorism investigation.

3. Central Armed Police Forces: These include:

  • Central Reserve Police Force, responsible for maintaining law and order and containing insurgency.
  • Central Industrial Security Force, responsible for physical security at airports and sensitive establishments;
  • The National Security Guards, a specially trained intervention force to terminate terrorist situations such as hijacking, hostage-taking, etc; and
  • The Special Protection Group, responsible for the security of the prime minister and former prime ministers.
  • The Border Security Force, responsible for  guarding India’s land border during peace time and preventing transnational crime.

4. Paramilitary forces: These include the Assam Rifles, Special Frontier Force, and the Indian Coast Guard,which assist the police in counter-terrorism operations when called upon to do so.

5. The Army: Their assistance is sought as a last resort when the police and paramilitary forces are not able to cope with a terrorist situation. But in view of Pakistan’s large-scale infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir and the presence and activities of a large number of Pakistani mercenaries, many of them ex-servicemen, the army has a more active, permanent and leadership role in counter-terrorism operations here.

6. Recent initiatives like NATGRID and CMS to aid security agencies: The National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID is the integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.

Issues with India’s counter terrorism set-up:

1. India lacks a coherent strategic response to terrorism; there is no doctrine, and most of our responses are kneejerk.

2. Unintelligent Intelligence Infrastructure: India has a multitude of intelligence agencies. Coordination between them on the ground is not up to the mark. Experts also opine that there is competition among intelligence agencies which prevents information sharing.

3. A crucial weakness that most intelligence agencies suffer from is the lack of resources. They most often fall short of trained officers and finances.

The way ahead for India:

1. India needs to formulate a comprehensive national anti-terror strategy which must address many issues – defence, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomacy, economic development, education, promotion of socio-political justice – within the context of policies promoting national security.

2. Reforming domestic anti terror apparatus: India needs to:

a) immediately beef up NIA

b) create a strong NCTC (National Counter Terrorism Center)

c) ensure that terrorism fighting organizations are equipped with adequate physical infrastructure, manned with suitably trained manpower and do not face a cash crunch;Most importantly, the agencies must be least in number and have a mechanism to seamlessly communicate and strike whenever needed, without jurisdictional conflicts.

3. Military Options: A strong state with the ability to give as good as it gets is a pre-requisite for peace. Military options like the recent surgical strikes across LoC not only enhance the deterrence in place against such attacks, but also ensure that the state-jihadi nexus is constricted.

4. Diplomatic Dialogue- Henry Kissinger, an American political scientist has written that “nations cooperate for long periods only when they share common political goals and that… policy must focus on these goals rather than on the mechanisms used to reach them.” Thus, India must diplomatically engage not only Pakistan, but also Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, so as to formulate policies for cooperation in economic, military, cultural and terrorism fields and ensure mutual quest for regional peace, prosperity and stability.

5. International Support– to further a policy of non-violent “compellence”.

a) India must designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism and continue its efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally as it has successfully done in South Asia( SAARC). To impose further political isolation, India could convince its partners to postpone bilateral meetings with Pakistan or delay visa processing.

b) In more tangible economic terms, India and its partners could seek to raise the prominence of anti-terrorism issues at the IMF to condition further financing for Pakistan on cracking down on terrorist groups that attack other states.

c) Furthermore, India could seek an advance commitment from the United States and other major powers to cut security assistance to Pakistan in case of a future terrorist attack in India. Such agreements would raise the costs for any authorities that would subsequently violate them. China and U.S. both have great interests in stability between Pakistan and India. Both could be expected to press India and Pakistan to uphold any agreements and to contribute to fact-finding if there are disputes over compliance.

6. Internal Stability– India needs to understand the importance of maintaining peace and harmony amongst all religions and communities in India, with special reference to Muslim and people belonging to NE states and the RED CORRIDOR (Maoism). Pakistan has for decades exploited the dissatisfaction and given covert and overt assistance in fuelling insurgency in these regions. The intelligence agencies have an important role to play as the eyes and ears of the government in different communities to detect feelings of anger and alienation which need immediate attention.

7. Solving border issues with wider consultation, initiating confidence building measures and more and more people to people contact along with improved trade across the border would help.

8. Use of the latest surveillance technologies available such drones, unmanned Arial vehicle such as Nishant, Rustam-1 etc to detect the presence of unwarranted activities across the border whether land or maritime.



Only a combination of Indian coercive and non-violent capabilities, paired with a willingness to bargain, can motivate Pakistan to remove the threat of violence. And just as threat of force alone will not work for India, neither will support or tolerance of anti-India terrorism enable Pakistan to get what it wants from India. Both have to demonstrate willingness to compromise through bargaining, which is only possible if both reassure each other that they are eschewing violence. It is up to Indian and Pakistani leaders and societies, with encouragement from the international community, to find a combination that will work for them.

Here’s an interesting case study analysis done – Dealing with Pakistan – Are you a Hawk or a Dove?

Quotable quotes (useful for essay)

Good fences make good neighbors

– Robert Frost in “Mending Wall”

To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

– China’s ancient strategist Sun Tzu.

Worse than war is fear of war

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman ancient statesman.

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