Westminster attack: Why India should be worried

On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, a terrorist drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and people standing near the palace gates before fatally stabbing an unarmed police officer. The attacker was shot dead by another officer. At least four people, including the attacker, confirmed dead. At least 40 people were injured. The police believe the attacker was inspired by “international terrorism”. So far, British Police arrested 7 people linked to the attack. The attack followed the same pattern of Nice and Berlin attacks. It’s becoming evident day by day that the lone-wolf attacks are the new norm.It’s easy to execute, not much planning or training required, highly cost effective, No need for movement of people or explosives. A kitchen knife to a heavy truck can be used for the attack. Operatives can be radicalized and trained online. Most of the time, it’s hard for the intelligence agencies to track them. Israel has been dealing with it for so long. Now, Europe has started feeling the heat. India is not completely unfamiliar with the concept. In 2015, A Maharashtra constable was stabbed by a youth to avenge ‘Beef Ban’. Indian intelligence agencies have continuously warned against possible lone-wolf attacks. In counter-terrorism, Indian elite special forces are on par with any of the world’s best forces. But when it comes to these kinds of attacks, Indian cops lack training and experience compared to their western counterparts in dealing with armed assailants. And being comparatively densely populated, it’s easy to mount such an attack in India. To make matters worse, Islamic State chief Baghdadi ordered his foreign fighters to go back to their native. It’s believed that at least 73 Indians had joined ISIS. Which means, highly trained and radicalized youths who are capable of spreading the ideology may anytime return back to India. And there are self-radicalized youths and groups who pledge their allegiance to the terrorist organization.  As these people usually won’t get in touch with ISIS or any other terrorist groups, they will mostly be out of the radar of intelligence agencies. Also, agencies cannot rule out the possibility of local terrorist organizations tying up with ISIS. For instance, Lashkar-e-Taiba has sleeper cells across India, mostly in states like UP, Kerala and, Tamil Nadu. They can be mobilized without compromising the identity of the handlers.  In coming months, intelligence and policing agencies have to do an uphill task of identifying and deradicalising such potential terrorists. Considering the political climate, they cannot afford to make any mistake. A wrong person getting arrested will negate all the good work they have done and a failure in picking up someone before an attack will end up in disaster.

Westminster attack: Why India should be worried

A Conspiracy against the Armed Forces

Major General (Retd)  Ian Cardozo, a 1971 war hero who lost his leg in the war and went on to become the first disabled officer to command an infantry battalion and then a Brigade, in an interview had detailed his conversation with a Pak Junior Commissioned Officer after they surrendered. He was a Major with 5 Gorkha Rifles back then.  He asked the JCO if he can give his men some blankets from the Pak Army store. When the JCO agreed, he asked politely if any blankets remain, can the JCO give it to the Indian officers. That was surprising for the Pak JCO. He asked if even the officers don’t have blankets. For that, the Major replied: “When the jawans do not have blankets, then how can the officers have them?”. The Pak JCO saluted young Major and said. “had we had officers like those in India, we would not have seen this day”. Indian Army takes extreme proud in the fact that it has one of the highest Officer to Jawan casualty ratio. It’s linked to the ethos of leading from the front. Lines written on the wall of IMA hall reads “The safety, honour and welfare of the country comes first, always and every time, the honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command comes next and your own ease, comfort and safety come last always and every time”. But recently, “exposes” and “stings” are doing rounds which paints a completely different picture of the Armed Forces. Initially, I was only worried about the disiplinary aspect of Jawans resorting to social media instead of using offfical channel. I knew the food & facilties for Indian Jawans were/are not world class. Am not a jingoist and I know there was and there corruption in the armed forces. I thought for some strange reason, Jawans became brave all of a sudden to go public. But the last sting which ended up in Lance Naik Roy Mathew’s suicide is forcing me to doubt a conspiracy. It was clear that the Jawan didn’t know he was talking to a reporter. Still there was no attempt to protect the identity of the soldier. It almost looked like somebody wanted a martyr and a rift and mistrust between commissioned and non-commissioned ranks in Indian Armed forces. There were many instances where arrested ISI agents revealed that their handlers had asked them if they can recruit anyone from the Army. We have seen during Kargil war also, how ISI used such mistrust among the soldiers to get potential recruits. Back then, the propaganda was to create mistrust amoung Nepali Soldiers in Indian Army. A timely inquiry in Lance Naik Roy Mathew’s unfortunate death is the need of the hour.

A Conspiracy against the Armed Forces