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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Aug 2, 2017, 2:14 AM; last updated: Aug 2, 2017, 12:47 PM (IST)

Lashkar chief killing: Focus on the big fish

Sync among different security forces at tactical level crucial
Lashkar chief killing: Focus on the big fish
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd)

Two months ago, when LeT division commander Abu Dujana escaped the security forces (SF) dragnet in Pulwama, south Kashmir, many expressed dismay at their inability to neutralise the high-profile terrorist  from Gilgit Baltistan.

Dujana, an A++ category terrorist with Rs 15 lakh on his head, operating initially in north Kashmir, later became active in south Kashmir. Branded “a thinking and high-profile” terrorist in the last seven years, he planned several successful operations against the security forces — the most marked being the targeting of the CRPF bus at Pampore (eight jawans killed) and the ambush at Udhampur (three BSF jawans killed).

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Anyone experienced in handling Kashmir’s killing fields will tell you that the longer the terrorist survives, the more vulnerable he becomes. He acquires the idiosyncrasies of high-flying personalities. And each time he escapes, he develops scornful overconfidence. He starts to use the social media carelessly and spends time more than required at a single location. He frequents certain areas more often than he should and picks up a fondness (could be a woman), which the security forces are always on the lookout for.

There are hundreds of locals willing to give information for a handsome sum of money. This money is over and above what is promised by the police’ official information charts. This is what Intelligence games are all about. Once that information is available and you have a well-knit team ready to target a specific leader, you have a recipe for success. These days, what matters is the speed of response, the reliability of actionable intelligence and the ability to keep away interfering mobs of stone-throwers.

Dujana is not the first high-profile terrorist leader from Pakistan who has been killed, nor is he the last. But what is important in the current counter-terror operations is the sync which exists among different security forces at the tactical level. The J&K Police hasn’t lost its effectiveness, the Rashtriya Rifles is sharp in response and the CRPF has achieved a quantum jump in its capability to handle mobs. However, many times this is contingent upon the degree of cooperation between the forces and specialised intelligence services, such as IB, R&AW, Military Intelligence and State CID. It cannot be personality-driven and must remain institutionalised.

At this juncture, a pragmatic professional will recall the basics. Killing terrorists alone does not kill terrorism. The current concept of operations demands continued pressure on terror groups to prevent them from regrouping once they are on the defensive. But nothing can be achieved without domination of the public order domain. We cannot hope to carry forward the effect of our successful counter-terrorist operations without reaching out to the people directly and activating positive grassroots politics. We come back to the age-old adage for such operations— the blending of hard and soft power operations. Repeating this message ad nauseum must remain a resolve.

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