Various fidayeen attacks (suicide attacks) have taken place during the last three years by Pakistan sponsored terrorist groups.
Suicide Attacks | Background
According to a portal that tracks terrorism-related violence in South Asia, 2016 has witnessed the highest number of security forces casualties during the last eight years in J&K. The high numbers indicated by the media in the recent past do not take into account certain variables that impact the increasing violence in the recent past.
Suicide Attacks | Current scenario
- Cross-LoC violations have been unusually high this year and have led to a large number of casualties, especially of the Pakistani regular forces.
- The increase in casualties also indicates an upswing in the number of violent incidents and the corresponding increase in the intensity of security forces operations.
- The low figures of civilian casualties are indicative of the nature of operations being conducted in Kashmir. In the recent months, despite grave provocation, security forces have ensured minimal collateral damage, often at the cost of suffering higher casualties themselves.
Even as some of these attacks are contained, fidayeen attempts, which include surprise and shock as essential elements, are bound to cause greater damage when compared to hit and run or standoff fire assaults. The surprise element and the determination of life by the terrorist makes it impossible to find any other alternative to contain such attacks other than counter-terrorist operations and elimination of the target.
Suicide Attacks | Countering the Fidayeen
It is important to outline that suicide attacks are possibly the most difficult and challenging form of terrorist strikes for security agencies attempting to neutralise them. These attacks, despite their tactical nature of conduct, have the potential of giving strategic gains if the targets are carefully chosen and the attack is executed with impeccable precision.
- Stopping terrorists infiltrating from Pakistan into India remains the best way of avoiding and neutralising a fidayeen attack.
- Redeploying Rashtriya Rifles in vicinity of the LoC for such a task is important too. The situation is more complex along the IB sector. Here the limited numbers of the BSF do not allow a multi-tiered deployment like the LoC sector.
- Another critical factor for avoiding casualties relates to enhancing the intelligence network and capacity that feeds into the security apparatus.
- The next factor relates to measures required to strengthen protective measures in respect of potential targets. This relates to the larger issue of how well is the security apparatus galvanised in a unit when compared to some others.
- A group of alert sentries, effective passage of early warning — as witnessed in case of Janglot, can still provide the necessary deterrence that can help eliminate the fidayeen.
- Enhancing intelligence capabilities, isolating establishments from public passage as in the case of Nagrota, strengthening the physical infrastructure including perimeter walls, concertina coils, double or triple entry barricades, and security lighting among others.
- Vulnerable areas can be augmented further through the employment of training companies oriented towards countering terrorism, which will serve the dual purpose of keeping them oriented and buffer the strength of security forces in threatened areas.
- It is more important to enhance the capacity of units and establishments to undertake such challenges within their own capability rather than merely relying on erecting physical obstacles.
- Such tasks require elite sub-units to perform counter fidayeen attacks who are specialised in nature which needs excellent situational awareness. This demands a degree of stability in their selection, training and continuity.
- The establishment of a unified command centre to coordinate responses remains critical to a successful counter-terror operation.
- Military and police establishments that fall within the vulnerable zone of such attacks must retain very high psychological and mental orientation with a clear focus towards it. It requires giving higher priority to training, enhancing operational drills and procedures, cutting down on peacetime spit and polish, especially if it competes for a soldier’s time and professionalism.
- The principle of ‘back to basics’ in terms of basic drills and procedures that are the strength of a regimental system need to be strengthened further.
- Lastly, such attacks cannot and should not create paranoia, especially in the hinterland. Hence, the media should maintain a responsible restraint on the kind of reportage they resort towards reporting such attacks.
Suicide Attacks | Conclusion
The antidote to fidayeen attacks is a well-trained and informed soldier, who is clinical in his task of neutralising the threat as and when it arises. A well-framed mind with highly motivated force working towards a larger national cause is quintessential for effective counter to such attacks.