Internal Security Trends and Incidents

[op-ed snap] Looking beyond Pulwama


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges & their management in border areas

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IED

Mains level: Shortcomings in India’s response to security threats and measures to tackle them


  • The death of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in a suicide bomb attack in Pulwama,  has shocked the nation, as it was unprecedented in recent times. An explosion of this magnitude was not ever presaged.
  • The CRPF has already ordered a court of inquiry into the lapses that may have led to the disaster, and to rectify the shortcomings.

Intelligence Failure

  • There has been an intelligence failure through the agencies claim to have sounded the security forces of a possible improvised explosive device attack.
  • Such information without any specifics could not have been acted upon with the seriousness it deserved.
  • Even an inkling of the possibility of an attack on the convoy could have put the road opening patrols and the officials manning the convoy on very high alert.
  • Intensive checking could then have been carried out of all vehicles so as to intercept and avert any mishap.
  • It seems, the intelligence feed was not given the attention and seriousness it warranted.

Operational Failures

  • Southern Kashmir has been the hotbed of terrorism with many young boys joining the militant ranks in recent months.
  • Intensive checking of vehicles and possible hideouts could have put breaks on their dirty mission that a long convoy of 78 vehicles with over 2,547 men had to move in the wee hours from Jammu is being questioned.
  • The convoy was split for better command and control and to avoid bunching, they are reported to have got close to each other on nearing Lethpora.
  • By no stretch of the imagination could any convoy commander have exercised proper command and control over the fleet and personnel extending over quite a few kilometres considering the mandatory distance that needs to be maintained between each vehicle as per the Standard Operating Procedure.

Measures  taken to enhance security

  • All civil vehicles need to be banned from plying on the highway when military/paramilitary convoys are on the move.
  • Ambulances and emergency service vehicles could be the sole exception to this rule.
  • While intelligence agencies need to beef up their sources, the security apparatus calls for a thorough review.
  • The J&K Police is already planning to install CCTVs all along the 400 km-stretch of the highway, right from the entry point to the state in Lakhanpur in Punjab to Sonmarg beyond Srinagar.

Proposed Measures

  • As a force multiplier, drones could also be pressed into service to hover along the highway and detect any suspicious movement of men or vehicles along the route.
  • Quick reaction teams deployed at vantage points along the highway could be rushed to spots where suspicious movements are noticed through real-time pictures and take remedial measures.
  • Similarly, the extensive use of sniffer and tracker dogs could lead to the recovery of explosives and even terrorists.
  • The Belgian Malinois dogs presently being used by the CRPF in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha have proved their mettle by way of being instrumental in the recovery of huge quantities of explosives in various operations.

By Er S

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