Why Nagrota terror strike is different – and more alarming

Curiously, the spot is near Jammu and nowhere close to LoC or border

GN Bureau | November 30, 2016


#defence   #Jammu and Kashmir   #Pakistan   #Terrorism   #Nagrota terrorist attack   #army   #Narendra Modi  
File Photo: Prime minister Narendra Modi being given a presentation on counterterrorist and combing operation by the defence forces, at Pathankot airbase on January 9, 2016. The chief of army staff, General Dalbir Singh is also seen.
File Photo: Prime minister Narendra Modi being given a presentation on counterterrorist and combing operation by the defence forces, at Pathankot airbase on January 9, 2016. The chief of army staff, General Dalbir Singh is also seen.

The terrorist attack on the army camp in Nagrota, Jammu, in which seven army personnel and three terrorists have died, raises some important points – and questions yet to be answered:

• The Nagrota army camp is a key army installation located on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. It’s just 20 km from Jammu city, which, during the 25 years of insurgency and social turmoil in the neighbouring Kashmir, has turned into a major business centre. It is also home to most of the Kashmiris who left their homes to escape terrorists, either permanently or for shorter periods.
 
• So far, the Pakistani terrorists have targeted military camps located close to the line of control (as in Uri) or the international border (Samba). Nagrota, by any reckoning, is close to neither and lies deep inside Jammu in the foothills of Trikuta.
 
• Unlike Kashmir, where terrorists have bases and enjoy the support of a network, to help them with logistics to carry out the attacks, this strike has happened in Jammu region where such a network is virtually missing.
 
• The terrorists have used a time-tested tactic to gain entry into the camp. Though it’s not clear how they had gained entry inside the campus, one can safely guess – on the basis of previous experiences – that, probably, again, they might have scaled the outer wall of the camp in the dead of the night (as in Pathankot). Why was the security of the army installation never augmented even after several such attacks in the recent past?
 
• The Jammu-Srinagar national highway is full of security check points – at times, the bus and car passengers are offloaded from vehicles and their luggage is checked for security purposes. It causes huge inconvenience to the bona-fide travellers. How did the terrorists overcome such checks?
 
• If the past experiences hold any clue, the Indian security establishment should have been prepared to avert a major terrorist strike on a day that, perhaps, could reset the equations between the government and the army in Pakistan. Hours after the strike, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, considered a dove and not a hard-core anti-India military leader, was to take over from Raheel Sharif, who had been spewing fire against India, as Pakistan army chief.
 
• Remember the surgical strikes and the bombastic claims of the Indian leaders about teaching Pakistan a lesson it won’t forget soon? Today, is there anyone in the government who is ready to answer the people of India why terrorists are able to strike at will despite the surgical strike?
 
• The Jammu-Srinagar national highway is one of the most protected arterial roads of India on which the Norther command headquarters of the army and the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi are also located.
 
• The Nagrota camp is a virtual gateway to Jammu, which has maintained communal amity and normalcy despite provocations and is also seat of the government in winter; hence the strike raises concerns about the city’s security.
 

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