A society with low levels of security consciousness contributes to threat potentiality
The arrests of David Coleman Headley aka Daood Gilani and Tahawwur Hussain Rana by the FBI in Chicago last week have led to revelations of threats against India. David Headley is a US citizen of Pakistani origin, while Rana is a Canadian citizen, again of Pakistani extraction.
Both LeT operatives were arrested after an email exchange between Headley and an unnamed senior operative in which Headley suggested traveling to India, possibly either for recon or actual action. There is speculation that this unnamed operative is Pakistani SSG turned senior al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri.
The interrogations, in which both the IB and RAW participated, have brought to light specific threats against the National Defence College, New Delhi, two boarding schools in North India and a few five-star hotels. According to Rediff‘s report:
It is encouraging to note the level of information sharing between the FBI and intelligence counterparts in India, and the participation of contingents from RAW and IB in the Headley-Rana interrogations in the US. The level of cooperation will likely increase with greater convergence of Indian and American threat perceptions. Such information sharing and indeed participation would not have occurred seven years ago.
The other side of the equation for India is security consciousness. Indian attempts to beef up its internal security must factor in security consciousness at Central, State and personal levels. Our schools, universities, hospitals, marketplaces and centers of faith are all soft targets which unsurprisingly find their way into terror plots. Ours is not a security conscious culture; indeed those who flaunt rules and bypass security protocol are greatly admired.
There is a systemic problem in India where appreciation for security has historically been lacking at personal, state and central levels. While it took humiliation at the hands of a larger adversary in 1962 to shakeup the armed forces and a pacifist government forged from the idealism of the ahimsa movement, no such shake up has occurred in the case of local law enforcement.
Most state governments are happy to let their dilapidated law and enforcement apparatus rot away. Low budget allocation, no training, no equipment and resources and poor pay.
I’ve never heard of an unmotivated terrorist. But unmotivated police personnel, there are plenty. Nowhere is the urgency for police reform more apparent than when the physically unfit, unmotivated police constable armed only with a laathi (or a World War II era .303 rifle, if he’s lucky) comes face to face with a terrorist armed with an AK-47, several rounds of ammo and schooled in commando action in the finest jihadi tradition from across the border.
India has battled insurgencies galore, from Kashmir to Khalistan, is in the middle of a Maoist perversion in seven states, and experienced its annus horribilis last year when terrorism against soft targets claimed the lives of 400 Indians. One would have hoped that the impetus for a shakeup in mindset had been provided. Almost a year after 26/11, nothing seems to have changed.