The gunning down of seven Indian armymen by terrorists including two officers in a fidayeen attack on the Nagrota military base in Jammu region on Tuesday is a stark reminder that crucial lessons have not been learnt from the two similar attacks in Pathankot and Uri this year. Indeed, the chinks in the security infrastructure are all too clear and need immediate attention. Much lip service is being paid to proper perimeter security around the military bases and better intrusion detection systems but precious little is being done in this direction.
As is our wont, there are meetings and meetings but when the preparation is put to the test, it fails. That this terror strike location was a mere four kilometres from the headquarters of the 16 Corps which is the largest corps in the Indian army underlines the gravity of the security lapse. That the terrorists were heavily armed and had penetrated our defences 50 km from the Pakistani border is cause for us to sit up and strengthen our defences.
It needs to be established why there was very little follow-up action to the wide-ranging recommendations of the tri-Services committee led by former army chief Lt. Gen. Philip Campose (retd) which was set up after the Pathankot terror attack which claimed seven lives and injured 25. There is a need for systemic changes to ensure that such informed recommendations and intelligence tip-offs are treated with the seriousness they deserve.
Why must we be caught napping more often than not? The laxity in perimeter security was manifest. One shudders to think what would have happened had the terrorists managed to hold the 14 persons in the officers’ mess hostage who included two women and two children. Are the prolonged stress levels in the forces compromising their security?
Evidently, this is the new Pakistan army chief, General Bajwa’s way of saying that he is going to be no less ruthless and hawkish than his predecessor, General Raheel Sharif. The Nagrota terror attack could also be a subtle message to Pakistan’s political establishment that any peace overtures by them as contemplated by the country’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz and by High Commissioner Basit would not be tolerated when the former attends the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar shortly.