Director General Police, Himachal Pradesh, Somesh Goyal
How big a threat is terrorism in India?
Given the kind of neighbourhood that we have, terrorism will continue to be forced on us. Economic growth and improvement in lines of communications across the country have helped in containing home-grown insurgencies to manageable levels. Participation in the democratic process has seen terrorism disappear from a couple of states in the north-east. Red terrorism or Naxalism is the most potent security challenge today.
A terror strike always comes as a surprise to us. How can we be better prepared?
Terrorists have always had an element of surprise on their side. It is not like two armies going to war. Terrorists do not follow any principles of engagement. Better intelligence, training and equipment can help prevent such attacks. But to think that these will not happen, would be naive. There is a need for dialogue and track two engagement of the ideologues to resolve the issues.
Another reason for getting caught by surprise is that the levels of militancy in the country have come down sharply from the 80s and 90s. Officers and men in a large number of units have not seen live action till they are deployed in the disturbed theatres. Fighting militancy is a learning process. A few reversals have to be absorbed.
What do you think is needed to counter terrorism in terms of weapons, technology, etc?
It is the training and the response of the leader or a member of the security forces in that particular group that will determine the response. I think our troops have the right kind of weapons and equipment. There is, of course, need to induct lighter bullet proof jackets and helmets and lighter weapons. But our police and armed forces have proven their mettle with the resources held by them.
Do you think the training imparted to soldiers and officers too need to evolve given the faces terrorism wears in today’s world?
No troops are inducted in a troubled area, say Kashmir valley, without induction training. This training is tailored to the local environment. Training methodology has to keep evolving in tune with the dynamics of the strategy adopted by the militants. There are no fixed templates in dealing with militancy.
Like crowd support to militants is a new phenomenon seen in Kashmir. The police and armed forces were quick to learn and a form a credible strategy against it.
As I said earlier, training, case studies and simulation of real life situations are vital to keeping your reflexes sharp.