Fighting Terrorism: Unequal,
We all know that the terrorists are highly motivated, trained, indoctrinated (sometimes brainwashed) and focussed in their operations. One additional peculiar feature is that they believe in their cause and are ready to die for the same.
They have no burden of their families on their minds in the belief that their organisation/leaders will look after their dears and nears even after their departure from this world. On the other hand, the security personnel deployed for fighting terrorism lack these qualities especially regarding motivation and belief in their cause. Moreover, problems about welfare of their families and children, if they expire, are a major concern for them. Fine top cops such as KPS Gill, K. Vijay Kumar and others are a rare breed of men.
This at the very outset makes it an unequal battle. The second major factor making it an unequal battle weighing heavily in favour of terrorists is that they are not bothered about the law of the land and also whether innocents are causalities or not. In fact, they strike at the general public to instil terror and gain publicity. The security personnel, on the other hand, have to operate within very strict confines of law, under the glare of the media, various organisations and courts. Their task becomes further problematic if the terrorists dump their weapons and escape unarmed since they cannot be singled out from the general public.
Publicity for the terrorists brings them notoriety and builds an aura around their names. Even their family members are feared by the general public who are willing to cooperate with them. On the other hand, officers of the security forces shy from the media and publicity for the same reason that their families will be hounded out and targeted. Even their families are shunned by the public and society so that the wrath of the terrorist does not get extended to them.
It is a well known strategy adopted by the terrorists to strike at the family members, supporters, informers, other organisations and leaders etc. who are supporting the drive against terrorists to discourage help to the security personnel. They aim to ensure a fear in every individuals mind that the moment he helps security personnel, he will be sought out and killed. This leads to less cooperation of the general public to the security personnel making them lonely because they are also shunned publically and by friends in the society.
This forces the officers to redesign their personal security and movements so that the element of surprise does not go against them. This is compounded by the fact that they can be lured into traps by terrorists/ militants to visit scenes of incidents / areas which are the strong citadel of terrorists and where well thought of traps have been laid.
Obviously, the general and open movement of the officers gets restricted and they are forced to withdraw into limited areas of operation only, leading to further isolation. A fallout of their being on the target results in their friends and relatives not being eager to be seen in association with these officers lest the friends and relatives also come on the hit list.
The more an officer gets involved in fighting terrorist the more secretive he has to be regarding his own movements, working hours and meeting with the public. He has not only to be sure of his own well being but also to ensure that the information regarding his sources is not leaked out either inadvertently or willingly by jealous colleagues, friends and the public. His acquaintances shrink to his colleagues and informers with whom his interaction is bound to increase. So fighting terrorism becomes a close group of individuals who have to remain active and alive and one step ahead of the terrorists.
The attitude of the government and the seniors also forces a successful fighter of terrorism to get more and more involved as more and more work gets dropped into his lap. This further isolates the officer. His working hours and operations force him to live away from the family as he cannot disturb their normal routine. This adds to his loneliness and exclusion.
There is little doubt that some correctional measures by the government are required to be put into place to address these concerns (written above) even if it amounts to amending the law for further successful anti-terrorism operations.
Note: The writer had been at the helm of Security Forces Movement Against Anti-Terrorism in Punjab.