Modi’s challenge: Internal security
by Rijul Singh Uppal on 07 Jul 2014 0 Comment

On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi took the oath of office as India’s 15th Prime Minister. The astonishing results of May 16 that provided Mr Modi with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha meant that the new Prime Minister would be able to take the necessary steps needed to lead the country out of the ditch it has been in and lead it to new horizons in the next five years. Ideally, a new government should focus on improving a few critical areas, but given the despairing leadership of the past decade and its policy paralysis, many sectors are in vital need of overhaul.


Internal Security and Defence; Foreign Policy; Agriculture and Rural Economy; Poverty Alleviation and Food Distribution; Education and Skill Development; Economic Growth and Manufacturing; Roads and Highways; Civil Aviation; Power and even the necessary infrastructure to provide clean drinking water is something that needs an urgent revamp. Such is the scale of degradation the country has witnessed in the last decade.


Internal security must be the major point of focus. The Prime Minister needs to formulate a policy to shorten the Red Corridor, negate foreign influence with extremists and bring the youth lured by extremists to surrender their arms and join the mainstream.


For decades, foreign forces have waged a proxy-war against India by arming local extremists and the Indian establishment has failed to curb their influence. Small uprisings that can be easily mitigated in the country (faced and handled by most nations) have taken an ugly turn when disoriented youth are suddenly funded, heavily armed and indoctrinated to fight the Indian State. Such acts have been possible due to an intelligence failure and/or the cold-shoulder approach of past political mandarins in New Delhi, with their chalta hai approach.


Under the UPA, we saw the horrific 26/11 attack on Mumbai and the toxic expansion of the Red Corridor throughout the country. The UPA’s pro-Left stance meant a free run for NGOs and individuals who supported Maoist activities, while an undefined security strategy led to the formation of the deadly nexus of Maoists-Indian Mujahideen-Lashkar e Toiba which came to forefront when it became evident that terrorist organisations based in Pakistan were bankrolling and arming the Maoist spread in India.


Mr Modi in his campaign highlighted the issue of national security and the menace of Maoist violence and promised to take all actions necessary to secure the nation on coming to power. Within a fortnight of assuming office, he launched a new anti-Maoist strategy wherein the government would flag Maoist affected areas as ‘danger zones’ and paramilitary personnel deployed in these areas would get allowances at par with their colleagues posted in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-east. There is a proposal for choice postings after completion of tenure in these areas, as an incentive to boost morale.


Later, after meeting with the States and police agencies, Home Minister Rajnath Singh sent across a strong message that the new government is serious and will not tolerate any more civilian or personnel deaths. The Maoists, whose agenda is to create havoc and derail the economy, have taken countless lives of civilians and security personnel with increasing brutality; time bombs have been found inside the bodies of dead soldiers.


The Prime Minister must now act to strengthen the role of the NIA and modernise the police forces that risk their lives against internal terrorism. The UPA created the biggest roadblock for the security apparatus as it could not infuse a mechanism to ensure co-ordination between the Central and State Police agencies, the NIA and the IB on matters of collecting and disseminating HUMINT and ELINT. While the UPA did setup the NIA, it paid no further attention to strengthening the system and let the NIA run short of staff as UPA’s attention — as well as that of the Congress in States — was on expanding the creeping reach of the un-constitutional Aadhaar project and setting up the un-federal in nature National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).


Enter Ajit Doval


In a move intended to signal his tough un-appeasing stance on security, Mr Modi chose former IB chief Ajit Doval as NSA and has India’s best-known spy at the helm of the intelligence and security apparatus. Mr Doval is credited for the success of Operation Black Thunder in Punjab, suborning the commanders in the dreaded Mizo secessionist Laldenga’s camp and forcing him to the negotiating table, and various successes in Kashmir.


Mr Doval understands that unless complete internal security is achieved, India cannot efficiently handle any external threat. He knows that foreign forces use our domestic susceptibility to wage proxy wars. Thus we can expect the NSA to strengthen State police forces but also expect him to direct action against foreign-funded anti-India NGOs as mentioned in the leaked IB report that detailed how such organisations deliberately stalled development.


On the external front, both Mr Modi and Mr Doval make a dream pair to deal with any threat. While it has been evident through Mr Modi’s campaign speeches that he would take a hard approach to Pakistan-based terror groups, it means he may strengthen the covert-ops and deep-strike capability of the R&AW, potentially enabling it to launch an Abbottabad-style raid to catch the likes of Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed.


The NSA has been a supporter of such strikes. According to a Wikileaks cable, Mr Doval had designed a plan to catch Dawood during his daughter’s marriage in 2005, but the plot was supposedly foiled after Dawood’s contacts in the Mumbai Police leaked that Mr Doval was in touch with gangster Vicky Malhotra and was in his company when Malhotra was arrested in Delhi. Having seen his operation sink due to Dawood’s deep contacts in the administrative and police setup, Mr Doval is expected to usher in serious changes to negate the hold of such Pakistani assets, and also crack down on cross-border arms, currency and drug smuggling rings. Already, anticipating a strike, Pakistan is said to have moved Dawood Ibrahim to a safe location far from his plush Karachi residence.


The R&AW’s days of covert-ops in Pakistan ended after an alleged telephone conversation in which Prime Minister Morarji Desai allegedly boasted to General Zia ul Haq of having the blueprints of the Kahuta Nuclear Plant. This resulted in large scale counter-intelligence ops in Pakistan which totally erased R&AWs footprint. The next assault on the R&AW was the ‘Gujral doctrine’ wherein former Prime Minister IK Gujral dismantled the agency’s capabilities of launching covert-ops as part of his foreign policy approach. With Pakistan figuring high on the agenda of both Mr Modi and Mr Doval, one hopes for a u-turn in R&AWs fortunes and a strengthening of national security, both internal and external.


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