In the biggest terror attack in nearly two decades in Jammu and Kashmir, 42 CRPF personnel were killed in Pulwama yesterday. The bloodiest Thursday that the state has seen in recent times demands serious introspection on part of the Narendra Modi government. Set aside all the jingoism and war cries, India must look for answers on part of the biggest intelligence failure. As Modi govt’s Cabinet Committee on Security meets in New Delhi today, these 5 questions must be kept in mind before strategising any response to the dastardly attack:
1: Why authorities didn’t act upon the alert?
The Jammu and Kashmir police had reportedly sent an intelligence input to the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB, Army and the Air Force warning of a possible IED attack on February 8, week before the Pulwama blast which claimed lives of at least 42 CRPF personnel. The intelligence input, sent on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, asked all security agencies to "sanitize areas properly before occupying your place or deployment as there are inputs that IEDs could be used". Headlined "extremely urgent", the letter, was marked to the Deputy Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force, South Srinagar; DIG CRPF, North Srinagar; DIG CRPF North Kashmir, Baramulla; DIG CRPF South Kashmir, Awantipora; DIG CRPF South Kashmir, Anantnag; DIG Sashastra Seema Bal, South Headquarters (Special Operations) Kashmir and all Senior Superintendent of Police of Kashmir zone.
2: Why National Highway 1A was not completely sanitised?
Generally, the Indian Army’s road-opening party and other security forces comb the area before a convoy passes. The 70-truck convoy with over 2,000 soldiers was passing through the area. Was the basic SOP not done? Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik said that, “we had intelligence inputs but there has been some lapse (laparwahi) because we could not detect such a vehicle laden with explosives reaching that spot.”
3: Is ‘Operation All Out’ not enough?
Launched in 2017, the Indian Army’s ‘masterplan’ also known as ‘Operation All Out’ focussed on neutralising terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. According to initial reports, a blueprint was readied to target 258 terrorists. In 2018, in a renewed push, Indian Army gunned down more than 230 terrorists. But Pulwama attack clearly shows that the strategy needs to be reworked.
4: How terrorists were able to secure such big amount of explosives?
More than 300 kg of explosives used in the Pulwama attack shows that the meticulous planning done by the terrorist. Big question remains- did local intelligence fail to detect such a movement. What was the source and the route taken to bring all explosive in Pulwama?
5: Why are locals still joining terror groups?
Adil Ahmad Dar, the mastermind of the Pulwama attack, used to live just 10 km away from the site of the blast. Known as "Adil Ahmad Gaadi Takranewala" and "Waqas Commando of Gundibagh", Dar had joined Jaish last year. This means that the authorities have failed to dissuade locals from joining the terror groups. This also means that the terror masterminds sitting across the border know how to garner support within the state.