Archive for the Indian Army Category

Perspective: Mr Bharat Verma of IDR comments on Left Wing Extremism

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, CRPF, Indian Army, Insurgency, J&K, LWE, Maoists, Naxal with tags , on 2 August 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor

Bharat Verma

Mr Bharat Varma of the Indian Defence Review has come out with an article entitled ‘Maoist threat, deploy babus, not army’. In his article, he makes some telling points.

The same is reproduced below: Continue reading

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Armed Forces Special Powers Act: An analysis

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, Indian Army, Insurgency, Terrorism with tags , , on 28 July 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor

Lt Gen (Retd) Vijay Oberoi, a former Director General of Military Operations and Vice Chief of Army Staff has written a lucid article on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in The Tribune. He has clearly explained why it is such an important act and why it is more maligned than it is malignant.  

Special powers for armed forces

We need clarity, not emotions

by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, better known as AFSPA, has been brought out of wraps at various opportune times – opportune for those who have either something to gain, i.e. the insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir, political parties always ready to fish in troubled waters, with an eye on electoral gains or those who are regular establishment-baiters, who have made it a habit to take the plunge headlong in any controversy with the belief that if it is against an organ of the government, it needed to be opposed!

Many have called AFSPA a draconian law and have vehemently supported its repeal, but having read quite a few of their views and watched them pontificating on TV, I am convinced that most lack even a rudimentary, let alone in-depth knowledge on the subject. This Act has been in force for over five decades because it was essential for the conduct of smooth counter-insurgency operations by the army. It will continue to be needed as long as the army is employed on counter-insurgency/ terrorism tasks.

The Act was promulgated on September 11, 1958. The rationale for bringing the Act on the statute book needs to be appreciated. When the army was first employed on counter-insurgency tasks in Nagaland in the 1950s, two aspects came to the fore immediately. First, unlike in the case of maintenance of law and order, when the army is called out in ‘aid to the civil authority’, where time is available to employ the police before committing the army, operations against insurgents are entirely of a different genre, as the insurgents do not give any time for such niceties.

The insurgents we are fighting today are heavily armed, they act speedily, commit heinous crimes and disappear. Unless the army counters such actions with speed and not wait for orders from higher civil or military authorities, nothing would be achieved.

Secondly, the soldiers and officers of the army had to be protected from prosecution for consequential action taken against insurgents in good faith as part of their operations. Here too, the Act does contain the important caveat that the army personnel can be prosecuted with the Centre’s sanction, if their actions warrant it. There is, therefore, no blanket immunity from the laws of the land.

Over the years, some army personnel have indeed been prosecuted where a prima facie case existed. However, it is also true that due to the exceptional care which all army commanders take when their troops are employed against insurgents, such cases are few and far between.

After the initial employment in Nagaland, the employment of the army on counter-insurgency tasks continued increasing, till it was progressively employed in all the north-eastern states for such tasks. Along with such employment, AFSPA was also invoked in all affected states.

When insurgency erupted in Srinagar in 1990, the Act was extended to the Valley. Later, as the activities of the insurgents spread, first to the Poonch-Rajauri area, then to Doda and Bhadarwah and finally to the whole state, the entire state was brought under the Act’s purview in stages. It can thus be seen that AFSPA was invoked progressively only when the situation required the deployment of the army.

The army is designed and structured for fighting external enemies of the nation. Consequently, they are not given any police powers. However, when the nation wants the army to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations, then they must be given the legal authority to conduct their operations without the impediment of getting clearances from the higher authorities.

If this is not done, they would be unable to function efficiently and defeat the insurgents and terrorists at their own game. It is for this reason that the Act gives four powers to army personnel. These are for ‘enter and search’, ‘arrest without warrant’, ‘destroy arms dumps or other fortifications’ and ‘fire or use force after due warning where possible’. Once again, there is a safeguard in the Act, which stipulates that the arrested person(s) will be handed over speedily to the nearest police station.

The law stipulates that AFSPA can be imposed only after the area in question is declared a ‘disturbed area’ by the state government concerned. When this writer was the Director-General Military Operations (DGMO) and the army was asked to deploy in the Doda-Bhadarwah area, we requested for the invocation of the Act. The state government was reluctant to do so on account of political considerations, but we did not commence operations till the Act was invoked.

Clearly, the Army has no desire to get embroiled in counter-insurgency tasks. It is not the army’s job. However, despite over 50 years of insurgency in our country, the state police as well as the central police forces (CPOs) have not been made capable of tackling insurgency. Consequently, in each case the army was inducted to carry out counter insurgency/ terrorist operations. If the national leadership tasks the army for conducting such non-military operations, then it is incumbent on the leadership to provide the legal wherewithal to all army personnel employed on such tasks.

It is only then that the operations will be conducted in the usual efficient manner of the army and would be result-oriented. They also must be legally protected. It is because these two aspects have been catered for that the army has been neutralising the insurgents and terrorists, so that normalcy is restored and the political leaders and officials can restart governing.

The writer is a former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army

Maloy Krishna Dhar on Left Wing Extremism

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, CRPF, Indian Army, Insurgency, Maoists with tags , , , on 13 July 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor
MK Dhar

MK Dhar

Maloy Krishna Dhar started life off as a junior reporter for Amrita Bazaar Patrika in Calcutta and a part-time lecturer. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1964 and was permanently seconded to the Intelligence Bureau.

During his long stint in the Bureau, Dhar saw action in almost all Northeastern states, Sikkim, Punjab and Kashmir. He also handled delicate internal political and several counterintelligence assignments.

After retiring in 1996 as joint director, he took to freelance journalism and writing books. Titles credited to him are Open Secrets-India’s Intelligence Unveiled, Fulcrum of Evil – ISI, CIA, al-Qaeda Nexus, and Mission to Pakistan. Maloy is considered a top security analyst and a social scientist who tries to portray Indian society through his writings. In this interview with Nandini Krishnan, he discusses the Maoist menace and how it can be tackled.

Some excerpts: Continue reading

Understanding the Chief’s frustration

Posted in Army, Indian Army, Insurgency, J&K with tags , , on 12 July 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor
Gen VK Singh, COAS

Gen VK Singh, COAS

Gen VK Singh seems to be frustrated at the situation in J&K. And rightly so. It is ironical that in 15 years, for the first time, the army had to be called out since the police and local government could not tackle local youth armed with stones and sticks! He rues that the opportunity provided to the local government has been frittered away.

What is he apprehensive about? Continue reading

Why the army can fight in J&K but not Chhattisgarh

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, Indian Army, Insurgency, LWE with tags , , on 4 July 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor

Reproduced below is an interesting article by Brig (Retd) SK Chatterji, on the essential differences between the nature of insurgency in J&K vis-a-vis Chattisgarh.

The battle against the infiltrators in Kashmir and the battle against the Maoists need strong but different responses, argues Brigadier S K Chatterji (retired).

The Cabinet Committee on Security recently resisted the temptation to field the army to fight the Maoists.

The decades-long insurgency has engulfed 230 odd districts and has manifested adequate consolidation lately. The killing of 76 policemen on April 6 at Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, followed by the derailment of the Jnaneswari Express that left 150 dead and the killing of 27 CRPF troopers on June 29, are indicators of the degree of senseless violence they are ready to inflict.

These attacks are also proof of the movement taking a terrorist turn, with the killing of innocent civilians not being a taboo anymore.

However, before we field the armed forces there is reason to take stock of the differences between the Maoist movement and the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] where the army has also been deployed in strength for decades.

The Maoist problem is India’s [ Images ] first fully home-grown insurgency. The problem is rooted in our inept administration and rank corruption that has denied the benefits of growth to a huge swath of our population, who continue to live in poverty.

In contrast, the Jammu and Kashmir problem is a proxy war, covertly and overtly supported by Pakistan. It falls in the category of State-sponsored terrorism.

Also, in sharp contrast to the Maoist-affected interiors where poverty, deprivation and hunger stalk every village, the streets of Srinagar [ Images ] hardly have an impoverished man.

The basic drivers of the Maoist insurgency are politico-economic-social, in essence. Its fuel mix includes our class-ridden social structure that refuses to confer social acceptance and dignity to all. The Maoists’ promise of a class-less society offers a world of hope to people who have all along been discriminated on grounds of caste and creed. It has no fundamentalist influence.

In Kashmir, the movement has gone far beyond being fuelled by the demands of independence or merger with Pakistan. Today, it is an extension of fundamental Islamist militancy, with its commitment to the Islamist Caliphate at the end of the road.

The Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ], the lead militant organisation in Kashmir, is a proponent of this convoluted philosophy.

The Maoist problem encompasses multiple states. The spread of the area affected by insurgency is far larger. Lack of political consensus has eroded the quality of response. Absence of co-ordination between states has allowed freedom of movement to the terrorists. Intelligence sharing mechanisms are yet to be put in place.

In Jammu and Kashmir there was broad consensus amongst mainstream political parties for deployment of armed forces. The concept of a joint command of forces combating the terrorists was put into effect in Jammu and Kashmir leading to synergy between the state police and the central armed forces.

In Jammu and Kashmir, in spite of the borders being guarded rather heavily, the rugged mountainous jungle terrain allows induction of weapons by the infiltrators. Though heavy weaponry is difficult to ferry from across the borders, there is no dearth of personal weapons of the best quality like the AK-47.

The Maoists depend primarily on looted old and obsolete armouries of police forces. Of course there are more AK-47s now, but it still is a far cry from what is available in the valley.

The current strength of the Maoist cadre is estimated variously between 10,000 and 30,000. Even if the figure of 10,000 be accepted, it is far in excess of 3,000 odd terrorists that we faced in Jammu and Kashmir when insurgency was at its peak.

Gaining an upper hand over the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir forced us to deploy over 250,000 men. It has taken us close to 20 years to control the insurgency and bring it down to the level at which it even now simmers.

However, the weaponry of the Maoists being poorer, their combat capability may not be as good. They make up for it in terms of numbers, though. The pros and cons put together, the Maoist problem will also suck in more and more of an already stretched army, if deployed.

In Jammu and Kashmir we legislated the Armed Forces Special Powers Act for applicability in the state. In Maoist areas there is no such legislation operative.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the army initiated a huge perception management operation to win the hearts and minds of the people. The operation’s major plank has been Sadbhavna, essentially a civic action programme responsive to the aspirations of the people. In remote areas the armed forces assisted the villagers in improving their quality of life and bringing succour during natural calamities like the snow tsunami and earthquake of 2005.

The fact of change in perceptions is most vividly obvious in the study undertaken by Robert Bradrock, a scholar from King’s College, London [ Images ], which concludes that only two percent people in Jammu and Kashmir favour merger with Pakistan, today.

In contrast, no major perception management initiatives have been launched in Maoist areas. Even if developmental funds that have now been earmarked are put to use, a task difficult as such with the government’s writ not extending to the interiors, it is doubtful whether an inept and corrupt administration will allow the benefits to reach those who are its professed recipients.

The differences between the two insurgencies are gapingly wide. In addition, we have to realise that this is going to be the nature of tasks for the police and paramilitary forces, tomorrow. There is no choice they have but to upgrade to standards so that they remain relevant in the emerging environment.

We have had decades to realise these basic truths when the Maoist insurgency was gradually gathering strength. However, the police leadership failed to prepare its forces for the inevitable; an absolute lack of strategic vision. The preparations might as well start today, unfortunately, by paying the price against the Maoists.

Retired soldiers are NOT the solution for counter-LWE operations

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, Indian Army, LWE, Naxal with tags , , on 2 July 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor
  

The Soldier is the real weapon of the Indian Army

As a fallout of the recent stand-off between the Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry on the use of the Armed Forces to take on Left Wing Extremism (LWE),  a proposal to employ ex-servicemen on a three year contract for de-mining and other ‘specific’ operations was floated by some senior Home Ministry officials. The issue merits debate.   

Prima facie, the proposal, in the current form, will be  a non-starter for the following reasons. Continue reading

Analysing the Hindu Editorial: Murderers in Olive Green

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, Indian Army with tags , on 15 June 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor

The Hindu editorial of 13 Jun 10 has come out with a scathing indictment of the recent fake killings where three innocents were passed off as terrorists and killed by the Rashtriya Rifles.

 Northern Army commander Lieutenant-General B.S. Jaswal has promised that the murderers would be prosecuted and punished. That isn’t enough: the case has demonstrated, not for the first time, that there is a serious malaise both in the Indian Army’s counter-insurgency formations and in the internal oversight mechanisms.

The article goes on to quote incidents of 2004, 2006 and the recent one as examples of the malaise. It then goes on the quote the figures of alleged violations committed by the army between 1993 and 2007.

Between 1993 and 2007, the Army’s Human Rights Cell investigated 1,321 allegations of human rights violations in J&K and the North-East. Just 54 cases, it claimed, were supported by fact; in consequence, 115 personnel were punished. But no data on either the investigations or the proceedings that followed has ever been made public. The argument that making such details public will erode military morale makes no sense whatsoever. After all, the actions of rogue military personnel demean the sacrifices of those who put their lives at risk in genuine counter-insurgency operations.

The ISM Team View. The Team is of the view that while the editorial has raised concerns over the issue, it has missed some essential points completely. The Army has made a strategic error in tackling the violence in J&K. This error is to be expected given the lack of instituitional introspection and a strategic culture, both in the Armed Forces and in the successive governments. The error is this: allowing a counter-insurgency campaign to degenerate into an campaign for killing insurgents. This has come about by the Army’s policy of awarding units the Chief of the Army Staff Citations (simply called Unit Citations) based on the number of insurgents that the unit could eliminate (an euphemism for kill). In a steeply pyramidical organisation with immense internal competition, this yardstick of professional competence has an occassional officer, junior commissioned officer or jawan fall victim to the temptation of fake killings.

The Army has actually got an excellent track record in J&K. Though the incidents mentioned above are true, these are one of the few incidents of this nature in the Army. What is appalling is the handling of the these incidents by the Army. There has been no attempt to provide figures or data of incidents, allegations, accusations on a regular basis. Communication by the Army on these issues is virtually negligible. Similarly, for the incidents mentioned above, several of the cases are stuck in the legal quagmire that our judicial systems are well known for. This causes delays which get misrepresented as inaction by the Armed Forces. 

This is what this editorial has left unsaid…that needs to have been said.