Tag Archives: Counter-insurgency

#StateOfPlay: Celebrating surgical strikes? No thanks.

By Jugal R Purohit

Speaking at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the media for its coverage of the first anniversary of the surgical strikes. These strikes were conducted in the aftermath of the Uri camp attack which led to the death of 18 army personnel on September 18 last year.

Incidentally, even as the PM was speaking, security personnel in Srinagar were responding to a boisterous attempt by three terrorists to script another Uri-like attack. They targeted the battalion headquarters of the Border Security Force (BSF) where close to 200 personnel and their families were present.

In the year gone by, several such attempts have been made by the terrorists. The surgical strikes, one can say, have neither deterred them nor their Pakistan-based handlers.

Yet none of this came in the way of ‘celebrating’ the operation.

Did anyone ask if all measures to prevent such Uri-like camp intrusions had been implemented? If yes, why are they still taking place? If they haven’t been implemented then why so?

These strikes were meant to be yet another option in deterring Pakistan from aiding and abetting terrorism in Kashmir. What are the other options? How have we implemented them? What happened to the question of delivering better governance in the state which to my mind is the biggest step in coming closer to solving quagmire?

For one, Delhi claims it has refined the counter-terror mechanism in Kashmir because of which it has achieved more terrorist kills in comparison to previous years. Adding to the argument, those on the ground insist the present year is a calmer one (167 violent incidents recorded till June 30, 2017) coming after 322 recorded incidents – highest in the last five years – in 2016. A senior officer in Srinagar reasoned, “We are controlling better, more tightly than before.”

Along the Line of Control (LoC), the surgical strikes were followed by a severe intensification of cross-LoC firing. The 449 ceasefire violations in 2016, bulk of which were recorded in the aftermath of the surgical strikes, consumed the lives of seven security personnel (not to speak of those 29,000 who had been temporarily displaced or the civilians who’ve been hit, killed or lost property). Interestingly, if you are to keep the casualties in the months of October and November of last year aside, data between April 2016 and March 2017 shows India only lost two service personnel in the firing.

But this isn’t all that happened.

A PRS Legislative Research Jammu and Kashmir Budget analysis of 2017-18 tells us that investment in the state which amounted for Rs 4866 crore from 2009-10 to 2014-15, averaging Rs 973 crore a year, slowed down to Rs 267 crore in 2015-16. What does that mean on the ground? Rate of unemployment for persons between 18-29 years of age in the state hovered at 24.6 per cent when the national average was 13.2 per cent. Among persons between 15-17 years of age, it was at 57.7 per cent when the corresponding national average was 19.8 per cent.


State’s Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu, on January 11, 2017, made an insightful comment when he said, “Unemployment is a social issue of serious magnitude in the state. Even as the rate of unemployment is supposed to be very high in the state, we do not have actual figures” (http://jakfinance.nic.in/Budget17/speechEng.pdf)


In J&K, when comparing the average growth between 2005-10 and 2010-15, a decline is seen from 5.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent. In agriculture (which employs 64 per cent of the population and contributes 22 per cent to the economy), manufacturing (employs 11 per cent and contributes 25 per cent) and services (employs 25 per cent and contributes 53 per cent), the current levels of growth pale when compared to the growth in 2005-10. (http://www.prsindia.org/administrator/uploads/general/1464866443_Jammu%20and%20Kashmir%20Budget%20Analysis%202016-17.pdf)


Two recent news reports from Srinagar caught my eye.

The Indian Express reported on October 4 that ‘schools, especially higher secondary ones, have been open for a little more than hundred days throughout the 11-month session so far. It is the second consecutive year that schools in the valley have remained shut for most part of the academic session’.  Day after, Hindustan Times quoted, ‘Combined cases of drug abuse and related psychological issues also went up from more than 14,500 cases in 2014 to 33,222 in 2016, a staggering 130% increase in two years. This year till April alone, this number is 13,352’.

Did Delhi and Srinagar face any questions over this?

When I tried finding out a voice on the ground to understand the human story from these numbers, I bumped into Muneeb Mir (37), a businessman operating from Pampore. He said, “We see the iron fist of the government, we see a return to the cordon and search approach we thought we had last seen in the 90s. We understand it helps the rightist agenda of the government to be seen as muscular but what really worries us is this – earlier the narrative of the government was one thing and the narrative of the people the other. Today that line has blurred and this dominating rightist narrative worries us.”

Speaking of anniversaries, it was in October 1947 that Jammu and Kashmir’s erstwhile ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession, paving the way for the state to become a part of India. An undated letter written by Jawaharlal Nehru to Hari Singh published in Ramachandra Guha’s seminal ‘India After Gandhi’ carried the following text:

“Even if military forces held Kashmir for a while, a later consequence might be a strong reaction against this. Essentially, therefore, this is a problem of psychological approach to the mass of the people and of making them feel they will be benefited by being in the Indian Union. If the average Muslim feels that he has no safe or secure place in the Union, then obviously he will look elsewhere. Our basic policy must keep this in view, or else we fail”.

So, what happened?





EXCL: HM Rajnath to revamp world’s largest paramilitary, CRPF; Opposition emerges from within, from the top office. My report.

Sh Rajnath Singh, Hon'ble Home Minister takes salute at the 75th CRPF Anniversary (Diamond Jubilee) Parade. Sh Dilip Trivedi, DG CRPF is also seen

A top-down effort at re-booting 3,35,000 strong Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) –  country’s internal security provider seems to have turned into a turf war.

“If a person turns 75, he is considered an old person. But the same cannot be said about you my friends in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), for yours is a veteran organisation,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh, speaking on the 75th anniversary of the CRPF at its Gurgaon-based academy on November 13. His remarks drew thunderous applause from the men and officers of world’s largest paramilitary force. Unknown to most present there, on November 5, Singh’s ministry had put into motion an unprecedented, time-bound plan to revamp the force by re-evaluating each and every aspect of the force’s functioning. That plan has run into rough weather with resistance coming from the highest levels within the force, including the Director General himself.

A note from the MHA, a copy of which is available with this correspondent, stated ‘to examine all issues relation to the functioning of CRPF with a view to enable the force to efficiently discharge its responsibilities as the lead Counter-insurgency Force of the Union with special emphasis on the LWE (Left Wing Extremism) theatre’. It constituted two, 4-member committees under former CRPF chiefs K Vijay Kumar and AS Gill and sets a time period of 60 days for submission of their reports. Work has already commenced.

Reacting to this, DG CRPF, Dilip Trivedi, said, “I frankly do not see the need for this. Administrative action at the level of the DG would have sufficed.” When asked whether the government’s move to examine all issues indicated it was unhappy with the force, he replied, “What the government feels about the force is best answered by the government.” Interestingly, the MHA note puts Trivedi’s name as the fourth member of both the committees. Asked if he attended the first meet under AS Gill held last week, he responded in the negative. Whether or not he will take part in future deliberations, he said, “I do not think so. It mentions my name as the DG CRPF. By this month end, I will have retired and then it won’t be required of me to attend.”

Trivedi’s resistance stems from the fact that under him, earlier this year, the CRPF had wanted to implement a new transfer policy and re-organise command and control. However, owing to resistance from within, matters went before the then Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and got stalled. Now, the MHA not only wants to re-evaluate the above-mentioned issues but look at a host of others too. And to do so, it has widened the debate by roping in many more, beyond those in the hierarchy. Sections within the CRPF indicated their unhappiness with the MHA. “We would have welcomed the MHA’s action had they done what was required of them. For years we have been asking them for a hardship allowance for our jawans fighting the Maoists but it has not materialized. Issues like adhoc deployment and lack of bullet proof vests, helmets etc are all courtesy the MHA,” said a senior officer.

Defending the move, a Home Ministry official said, “Home Minister wants to develop CRPF as an operationally fit force for fighting the Maoists and all will be done to ensure that goal is met.” K Vijay Kumar, former DG CRPF when contacted said, “This is a time-bound action decided at the highest level of the national security apparatus. All should join. Everyone’s views will be given the highest regard.”


Committee One

·         K.Vijay Kumar, Senior Security Adviser (LWE), MHA-Chairman.

·         Members- Durga Prasad, Director, SPG,  Maj Genl(Retd) VK Dutta, Maj Genl(Retd) Dalbir Singh. NS Bhatti, OSD, Greyhounds, Dilip Trivedi, DG, CRPF.

·         Will examine: Training, SOPs, Intelligence, Operations Modernisation etc

Committee Two

·         AS Gill, Ex-DG,CRPF-Chairman,

·         Members.- PM Nair, Ex-DG,NDRF, 2. Valsa Kumar, Ex-ADG,CRPF, GJ Singh,Ex-IGP,CRPF, Gurcharan Singh,Ex-IGP,CRPF, Dilip Trivedi ,DG,CRPF.

·         Re-organisation of command and control, co-location of battalions and group centres, weaponry, equipment, incentives etc.

Visited insurgency-affected Gadchiroli recently. My ground appreciation with supporting data and voices

With a large map of the district on his office wall, a senior police officer posted here, pointed to four red pointers. “These are infiltration routes and here is where the great wall of Gadchiroli needs to be erected if we are to crush this menace,” he said. From north to south, the four western tehsils in the troubled district also share borders with Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur and Dantwewada districts. Intelligence reports say an unspecified number of cadres of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Maoist have entered Gadchiroli using these routes recently. Ominous signs.

Though on the backfoot following a spate of losses and surrenders,
Maoists retain the initiative owing to their strategy of hit and run.
Police data also points to this urgency. ‘Joint Patrolling operations’
are undertaken when paramilitary forces and police from the bordering states are roped in for coordinated operations. The frequency has shot up. From six operations between January and July, 79 have been conducted in the last two months. The police is actively pursuing whatever leads it can get on the movement of the Maoists. It has also got additional manpower in the form of paramilitary forces, specifically for the elections. “We had nearly 70 per cent polling in the Lok Sabha polls held on April 10 and we hope to improve the count further,” said Collector Gadchiroli Ranjeet Kumar.

Pulapaka Elkurthy (right) and Samakka Gangula at the Ankisa village in south Gadchiroli. Photo by Jugal R Purohit
Pulapaka Elkurthy (right) and Samakka Gangula at the Ankisa village in south Gadchiroli. Photo by Jugal R Purohit

Pulapaka Elkurthy and Samakka Gangula live near Ankisa village at the southernmost tip of Gadchiroli. A decade ago, both their sons were killed by the police in an encounter. Speaking in Telugu, Pulapaka said, “My son had gone to the forest to pick up medicinal herbs for our cattle. He never came back. Days later the police showed us his body. Because I was too shocked I did not want to even see the body.”

As a result she does not even have her son’s death certificate.
Nobody, says Samakka, has helped them. “There are many like us here. We too are victims. Some help from the government is all we want,” she said.

Meanwhile, the candidates, while going to the people, did not even
mention the insurgency, far less talk about ways to tackle or help
people like Pulapaka and Samakka. Political activity for the three seats, all reserved Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats, is still largely taking place along the roads. Most are talking about issues like job creation, irrigation and statehood for Vidarbha. Three time minister and NCP candidate from Aheri, Dharamraobaba Atram admitted to this situation, “We are talking about getting jobs and
industries here, if that happens it will automatically solve the
problem.” His nephew who is contesting on a BJP ticket, Ambrishrao
Atram said, “People have to live here. They are already sandwiched
between the police and them.” When visited, partymen in offices of BJP and Shiv Sena spoke about everything but the insurgency. “This is a problem of the centre. We shall see,” is what a BJP office bearer
said. Gadchiroli SP Sandeep Patil said, “They can be targeted since they are directly challenging the Maoists who oppose elections.”

Violence level in Gadchiroli-Gondia region

Year    Security Personnel Killed       Civilians Killed        Maoists killed  Ambushes by Maoists     IEDs exploded
2009    52      41      07      2276    01
2010    10      34      02      1081    04
2011    08      40      05      1129    04
2012    14      25      04      1884    03
2013    06      09      26      1029    07
2014 (Till Sep 30)      11      08      13      597     06

BOX – Gadchiroli in numbers

•       893 polling stations
•       4500 polling staff
•       Seats – Gadchiroli, Aheri and Armori
•       Total voters – 7,31,105

IN PICTURES: Indo-UK Army exercise, Ex Ajeya Warrior – 2013

Language no barriers

Learning from each others experiences in varied terrain and environment, the company level joint exercise enters the fourth week of the joint training cycle of four weeks.  The initial weeks of the joint training included familiarisation, demonstration, lectures and joint tactical exercises. This was divided into indoor and outdoor training. The joint training is being conducted by having two mixed companies of UK Army & Indian Army Soldiers.

None Can Stop us

The exercise is aimed to build and promote positive military relations between the two countries by undertaking joint training for Counter Insurgency Operations and thereby gaining from each other’s valuable operational experiences.  The exercise will also help to evolve joint battle drills for combating such menace.

Jointness in Trg

During the course of Exercise Ajeya Warrior – 2013, the technology advancement has been amalgamated to create a force multiplier and assist the combat troops in conducting its operation. UAVs, Recce and Observation system, Thermal Imaging system, Early Warning detachments, use of Helicopters and sniffer & tracker Dogs assisted the commanders of the joint exercises in achieving their aim.

Comrade in Arms

Having rehearsed and trained on counter insurgency and counter terrorism environment, the troops of the two Commonwealth Nations have graduated to the stage of conducting tactical exercises jointly in rural and semi urban environment. The joint training having exercise on Search and Destroy operations in the past week and will now move on to Cordon and Search operations.

The fourth and last week of training will mark the culmination with the joint exercises on Cordon and Search operations.  The drills & procedures of the two most experiences armies in the domain of counter insurgency will be dovetailed into one integrated force

(Text & photos by Ministry of Defence, New Delhi)