Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Amarnath Terror Attack Lapses : Let the Blames Begin !!!

The recent attack on innocent pilgrims by terrorists is to be indeed condemned. 7 people died and 19 others were wounded when terrorists fired on a bus returning from the Amarnath Shrine in the Himalayas. on the Srinagar Jammu Highway. 

The 40 day pilgrimage period, "Yatra" is considered extremely auspicious by the Hindus, who visit the shrine, despite it requiring them to pass through Muslim majority areas and regions known to be frequented by terrorists. The Central and State Governments along with locals assist in providing the required infrastructure to the pilgrims including a multi layer security cover of almost 40000 army men, drones, dog squads,bullet proof bunkers, satellite tracking devices and helicopters .

For more than the decade, the Yatra remained largely peaceful. However, with the recent escalation by Indian Government in clamping down on terrorists by the use of various measures such as demonetization and  use of armed forces to kill terrorists, such an incident was not surprising.

So while the Government, duly supported by some media channels largely assigned responsibility for this dastardly act to their favorite alibi Pakistan and it's terror networks, it is difficult to overlook the glaring gaps in security and raises troubling questions over the efficacy of India's internal security network:

1] 8th July marked the death anniversary of Burhan Wani, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, a terrorist organization (as declared by  India, European Union and the United States.)His death last year had caused large scale protests in Kashmir and deterioration of law and order situation for a considerable period.
This year, Syed Salahuddin, chief of the United Jehad Council and the Hizbul Mujahideen had called for a 7 day stir to mark Burhan's death anniversary and it was reported that security was tightened on account of this. Curfew was imposed by the Government over the weekend in anticipation of any unrest. 

  • So it is a massive intelligence failure to have lifted the curfew just a few days after death anniversary. It is extremely immature and myopic to assume that an attack won't occur after a particular date has passed.

2]There are reports of specific intelligence warnings being provided regarding an imminent attack on the pilgrims as early as 25th June.This is the warning :

" Intelligence input received from Anantnag SSP reveals that terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 yatris and about 100 police officers. The attack may be in the form of standoff fire on (a) yatra convoy which they believe will result in flaring of communal tension throughout the nation"

The reasons why the various agencies chose to sit cozy on such inputs is unknown. Is it because they know that in case something happens, they can always blame it on Pakistan ?

3] There are conflicting reports, that the concerned Tourist bus from Gujarat (GJ09Z 9976) was not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board and that the bus was travelling on the road after 7:00 pm. Security forces cover the National Highway only from 4.a.m. to 7.p.m. After 7:00 pm, no bus is supposed to be on the Highway.

  • It is appalling to note that an unregistered bus was not stopped anywhere in its 294 kilometer journey at any police/army check-post. 
  • Corruption along highways is a rampant phenomenon in India. One has only to travel through the various states by road to be immediately familiarized with the corrupt road tax and traffic inspectors.

  • Further, there was no provision for any contingency. In this case the bus has a flat tyre which required it to halt on the road beyond the stipulated time.

  • Finally, does the Government ever plan for contingencies? Does it expect terrorists to also retire to bed after 7:00 p.m.? or have drinks with chicken kabab at the club like some senior members of our agencies do ?

4]  Within hours of the attack, the public was informed that the main mastermind behind the attack was Abu Ismail of terrorist outfit Lashkar E Taiba. It is also reported that he/his men were carrying out recce of the region for the past 2-3 days. 

  • It is again unfortunate to note that such a tragedy was allowed to take place with such elaborate inputs available to the various agencies. Either this, or Abu Ismail has been simply named as a scapegoat so that the agencies can claim accolades for killing him and "avenging" the pilgrims. This all appears very contrived.

Conclusion :

It has been reported that several Governments in the past chose to "buy peace" with the terrorists so that the pilgrims of the Amarnath Yatra were spared.  

But the current Government has chosen to neither appease nor compromise with anyone and to take tough measures against terrorist networks. The tougher the measures it takes, the more will be the desperation among the terrorists and the deadlier will be their attacks in desperation.The hornet's nest has been stirred and the terrorists will want to sting back, to attack and cause damage, specially since they have the full backup and patronage of rogue nations.

Under such circumstances, intelligence and security agencies can ill afford to be lethargic and complacent. It cant be "business as usual"

The lapses at the Amarnath Yatra reek of a lackadaisical and arrogant attitude among our own institutions which are generally considered one of the finest in the world.

Besides the loss of life, it gave the terrorists the global platform they required to demonstrate that with all the state of the art hi tech gadgets and security paraphernalia deployed with the tax payer's money, they could strike at will. It gave media agencies like #FakeCNN the opportunity to label them as "militants" instead of terrorists.Closer home, opportunist online platform of India Today Group, DailyO,  also chose to brand the carnage of pilgrims as "accidental crossfire" and chose to label the terrorists as "insurgents" and even criticizing the National Media for labeling the killers as terrorists. (Article link of DailyO)

While hunting down the terrorists and supporting the armed forces is essential,  taking strict action against those accountable for the lapses should very much constitute part of the counter terrorism operations.They are as much guilty of the loss of lives of the Pilgrims. Till the time such strict action is taken, innocent people will continue to be used as cannon fodder.

The Narendra Modi government is taking on several vices plaguing India. In order to do so, it will require a robust organizational infrastructure which can withstand the onslaught of a fierce/ brutal reaction. While the Prime Minister's strength and intentions cannot be doubted, it is also a fact that one is only as strong as the team.


  1. I agree. Lapses must be corrected. Indian security is facing greatest challenge with India rising and jealous neighbors. They will di everything to destabilize India. So we cant afford to be complacent

  2. Abhijit Chohan12 July 2017 at 03:59

    One can't keep on blaming ISI, Pakistan or terrorists. Of course they will attack. I agree with author that we need to be professional and support Modiji. He is bringing us all advanced weapons and drones. But what is the use if we dont use them properly? I support Indian Army and Indian Government. But that doesn't mean I am not hurt by the lapses which were preventable.If VIP minister was visiting Amarnath, would such a thing have happened ? Is security only for VIP minister ?

  3. We must teach a lesson to both the terrorists and those on our side of border who let us down. 2 more jawans martyred. Time to take decisive action

  4. After the fall of Mosul, radical elements likely to spread to other parts of world. So beter be prepared

  5. Wonderfully prepared comparative chart. Moody should have been obvious choice