Indian barracks banjoed

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by bullet_catcher, Feb 17, 2010.

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  1. A company of Indian troops were attacked and took heavy casualties. The report by the Times of India is interesting reading. I hope our barracks have better security.

    From the Times of India:

    NEW DELHI: While most Naxal-affected states are getting their act together, West Bengal seems to lack political will and a professional force to face a determined foe with the Eastern Frontier Rifles camp in west Midnapore having presented rampaging Left ultras with virtually no resistance.
    The 24 jawans of the West Bengal paramilitary force died on Monday without a fight as they were swamped by 100-odd Maoists who struck the camp with grenades and automatic fire. The easy entry to the camp and total surprise are explained by a pervasive lack of security at its boundaries and absence of any lookouts.

    There was, shockingly, just one sentry on duty and the camp had no watch towers or sand bags. It is not clear whether there were any efforts to tap locals in the area, particularly adjoining the camp, to provide a warning about any threatening presence in a district known to be highly unsafe and trouble-prone.

    According to the incident's preliminary report and officers familiar with the events, the weapons were not in reach of the jawans, who were pretty much cannon fodder. Inquiries have been initiated about when the camp was last visited by a senior officer and if a security audit was conducted.

    Armed with sophisticated weapons, Maoists came on motorcycles and four-wheelers including a Bolero, triggered explosions near the Silda camp and barged in. There were over 50 jawans who were either "whiling away their time in the camp or busy in the kitchen". This may have been routine activity, but their weapons were not in reach and there were almost no sentries.

    An official wondered how use of four-wheelers by Naxals — noticed for the first time in the area — and the clear evidence of some planning could have been missed by the local intelligence. In this context, central officials are also mystified by the free run enjoyed by top Maoist commander Kishenji in West Bengal. On at least two occasions, raiding parties have been called off at the last minute.

    It is being felt that the political resolve in countering Maoists is still missing and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's preoccupations may not allow sufficient time for details of law and order. The CM also holds the home portfolio.

    In Kishanji's case, his frequent use of phones to speak to media makes his presence even more puzzling. While the West Bengal government has shed its earlier view that Maoists are not really the same as terrorists or militants, a pervasive lack of professionalism seems to be at the root of continued slackness even as the ultras have hardly disguised their deadly intent.

    Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) not being followed, poor training and absence of senior officers in dangerous areas were amply on display at Silda. The incident report shows the arms were neither secured nor were they accessible.

    At the time of the attack, the camp leader — a sub-inspector rank officer — was not even present.

    The number of casualties among security personnel jumped substantially in 2009 when as many as 317 personnel — mostly jawans — were killed in various incidents in as many as seven states.
    Calling it a case of pure "unprofessionalism", officials in the home ministry pointed out that though the area was quite vulnerable to such attacks, the state police did not show any care in deployment.

    "There was no proper guard, the camp was not adequately barricaded, and even their toilets were used by general public. All this was against basic police norms and SOPs meant for them in Naxal-infested zones," said a senior official.

    "We need 10,000 to 15,000 additional paramilitary personnel for deployment in the four states," the official said. Currently, nearly 75,000 personnel are deployed in seven states for anti-Naxal operations.

    Violation of SOP is, however, not the states' feature only. Central paramilitary forces too had lost lives due to their mistakes. The BSF had lost its jawans in Jharkhand during parliamentary election last year when they had used heavy vehicles to cross areas prone to landmines.

    Similarly, the CRPF had to lose a number of lives four years ago in Chhattisgarh where the personnel overcrowded the Mine-Proof Vehicle leading to over 20 casualties in a landmine blast. Most of the jawans were killed as they did not wear helmets, disregarding the SOP.

    The link is here if you need it.