They tried to do it again. And they tried to do it in Tirap again.
A group of some 40 terrorists, suspected to be from NSCN(K), attacked the camp of Assam Rifles in Tirap district in Andhra Pradesh.
Since there was prior intelligence this time, terrorists fire saw retaliatory attack by the personnel of the paramilitary force mandated to guard the India-Myanmar border.
No casualty was reported in exchange of fire that lasted for 10 minutes.
In an earlier incident in the district on April 2, NSCN(K) had ambushed an Army convoy (4 Rajput Regiment) killing 3 soldiers. It was around 6 AM.
Alertness and prior intelligence is natural in these tense circumstances. Just three days ago, in the deadliest attack on the Indian Army in the Northeast India, terrorists killed 18 soldiers of the 6 Dogra Regiment. NSCN(K), ULFA (I) and KYKL among others are being said to be behind this cowardly attack on the road-opening patrol that was not fully prepared to take on militants.
But that is a mistake or laxity or ‘intelligence failure’ that the Indian security establishment cannot afford in crisis-hit regions like J&K or in different states of the North-East.
The incident happened even if the Indian security establishment knew that the Khaplang faction of NSCN would try to hit targets in quick succession to prove its relevance after it broke the ceasefire in March 2015.
The intelligence establishment, with its multiple agencies, including the Indian Army and local police, expected attacks to happen, yet they could not see what was coming on June 4 in the Chandel district.
Like today’s incident in the Tirap district, involving a large group of terrorists (as is being reported), Chandel attack, too, involved a large group. Like Chandel, Tirap, too, is a district bordering Myanmar. In Chandel, it was around 6 AM, according to NSCN(K), the outfit which took responsibility of the attack. In Tirap, it was at 2:30 AM.
So, the terrorists want to attack those units of Indian security establishment, including its Army and paramilitary forces, which they find not equipped enough to retaliate – like it was a road-opening-patrol in Chandel – like it was at 2:30 AM at Assam Rifles camp in a remote area of Tirap.
If this sort of ‘hit and run’ is going to be the strategy of many groups of the North-East, including NSCN(K), intelligence agencies are going to face an even more difficult job at hand to thwart such attacks.
Going by the developments, it is quite sure that the intelligence agencies are not getting local support or are not able to exploit the means at this end.
India-Myanmar border is 15 Kms from the place where Chandel attack took place. Even if it was very near to the Myanmar border, crossing the border undetected after perpetrating such a deadly attack would be impossible for such a large group without local support. It holds true even in case the group members scattered here and there and crossed the border in small units or individually or even if they stayed back in the Indian territory, mixed among the villagers.
And today’s attack in Tirap holds same ‘intelligence’ logic. Assam Rifles guard the India-Myanmar border but they could not gauge from where the terrorists came and to where they fled away after opening fire. At least, that information is not in the public domain so far. Though Assam Rifles had intelligence about an upcoming attack, they could not trace out such a large group. But if they could escape as it was dark, it was not possible without the local support – the rapid movement of such a large group after a retaliatory attack.
And such ‘intelligence failures’ owing to the ‘non-cooperation of the local people’ in many North-East states give rise to various debates including Delhi’s negligence of the entire territory, shabby state of development and poor infrastructure and the imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
When I wrote in an article on June 4 attack that we needed to see ‘it is to be seen how the government of India moves next morning’, it was basically about addressing this ‘local’ element – to come to the board and to chalk a roadmap for a permanent solution.
A thorough preparedness, being alert round the clock, and a more intense intelligence gathering mechanism can thwart the possibility of damage in such attacks. Yes, but it cannot thwart the possibility of such attacks.
That needs comprehensive sanitization of the affected areas by the Indian security establishment. But that cannot happen without local support.
And we cannot trust on the government in Myanmar. Terrorist groups active in the North-East operate from Myanmar. The government there has not enough means, political and military, to take on these outfits and the government was forced to sign an agreement with S. S. Khaplang.
Such groups also get vital Chinese support which has interests in the promoting insurgency in the North-East with its claim on Arunachal Pradesh.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/