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Major General G D Bakshi discusses the Mumbai attacks and its aftermath
In an exclusive interview with Merinews.com, Major General (Retd) G. D Bakshi discusses where India has always fallen short when it comes to tackling terror and what should be India's response even if revenge calls for getting into a war.

MUMBAI WAS left shellshocked once again on July 13 and hopes of shaping a better future for the residents was once again reduced to rubble. The attack once again came as a slap on the face of the government, and reminded it to wake up from its slumber. Angry citizens remarked that the July 13 Mumbai blasts highlights the pinnacle of shamelessness of the world’s largest democracy.

Days after a senior leader stated that the recent attacks came thirty months after the infamous 26/11 Mumbai carnage, which meant that the government was doing a good job - has left citizens more furious. Emphasising government apathy, Major General (Retd.) G.D Bakshi uncovers the secret behind why India is always vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and why the government refuses to learn from similar past events.

Excerpts from the interview:

As per your own experience, how should the security measures in India be stepped up?

Although the issue has persisted in India for more than three decades, India has always responded in its reactive and defensive manner. India has to now emphasise on right of hot pursuit, which is accepted by the international community.

Being responsive in its own protective and defensive manner will not abjure the terrorists from their agenda. In order to tackle this menace, India has to bring about changes in its strategies, which includes adopting a proactive stance and not a reactive stance, even if calls for blood for blood.

How sure are you about Pakistan’s involvement behind the July 13 Mumbai blasts?

The source of this attack does not change if the outfit has been tentatively identified as the Indian Mujahideen (IM). Pakistan right now, is basking in the sympathy of the many Indians who are stating that they are responsible for the attacks, but in actuality, it is the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which masterminded the attacks.

Is there evidence of Lashkar-e-Toiba's involvement in the attacks?

Incidentally, the Indian Mujahideen is not all Indian. It was raised as a part of Project Karachi, which was the brainchild of the ISI. In 2003, the Harkat ul Jihad e Islami (HuJI) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba began to recruit disaffected Indian youth from SIMI and other radical organisations. Records state that 45 to 50 of these recruits were taken across to Pakistan and trained in terrorist training camps in Balochistan on how to master the art of fabricating the IED’s and not receiving any formal training in the use of AK 47’s, rocket propelled missiles et al.

If it is proven that LeT is the mastermind behind the attack, does India stand a chance of going to war with Pakistan considering that India has already averted war thrice since the 1999 Kargil War?

India will not go for war with Pakistan under any given condition. The primary reason is that the government lacks the will to do so. The rumours are spread by people who do not have a clue about the military operations. During the 1999 Kargil War, was India under attack by the nuclear bombs?

To say that there is a one step escalation ladder in South Asia and India is devoid of military options is the thought of people who are completely ignorant about diplomatic relations.

How well armed are the Indian forces as of now?

With the current positioning, it will be an uphill task for India to retain escalation dominance, control over the enemy forces. Reason being that India has to gear up itself two to three years prior to going for a war. As of now, MMRCA have not been deployed, LCAs too have lost track, the Scorpion submarines have not started production yet, dearth of aircraft carriers, tanks are night blind and India has not purchased a gun after Bofors. The Indian Air Force, which is supposed to have an authorised strength of 39 squadrons are today down to 28. With the retirement of the MIG-21 aircrafts, the number of squadrons deployed will automatically come down.

Under all the above mentioned conditions, the government has deliberately not let India not to prepare for war.

Does that mean India will have just have to grin and bear it in times to come?

Unfortunately yes. That is the message the higher leadership is advertently or inadvertently, knowingly or unknowingly putting across to neighbouring states. With its unwanted resilience, the message translates into that lives of Indian citizens do not matter. Even after attacks, the foreign ministers continue with their diplomatic dialogues, but they will never have the courage of suspending the talks until the issues are resolved.

What is the importance of rising public vigilance and public policing?

Public policing and vigilance plays the most pivotal part in keeping a nation secure. If we take the example of the United States, the people follow a Public Police Partnership wherein the authorities are alerted if there are any suspicions. But here in India, there is a massive public police divide. The importance of being for each other is not yet understood by both the police and the public.
If the same Public Police partnership is adopted in India, tragedies of maybe greater magnitude can be averted.

Moreover, the abysmal police to public ratio also pay to a certain extent. The actual ratio of two policemen for every one lakh of people is avoided in India. India does not even fulfil one tenth of the above said ratio. The ratio is further skewed in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

Looking at the past blasts in India, why has the government not yet introduced quick paramedic facilities?

As stated earlier, India refuses to learn from the past events. Keeping aside paramedic facilities, is there even one ambulance placed at busy crowded areas where there are chances of a blast to take place? Every time there is blast, there is no point in evacuating the victims on motorcycles and other local modes of transportation. Installation of ambulances is one key point where the government has failed miserably.

When under a terrorist attack, the authorities can at least use the blood clotting agents that is used by the United States army. Purchasing them in bulk quantities and applying it on a blast victim will at least give him an assurance of making it out alive.

What should be the message that the Indian government should pass on to the terror outfits or even states encouraging terrorism?

Primarily, India has ignored the United Nations Security Council’s advisory that every country must have strict anti-terrorism laws. What India now has the defunct CRPC and other applicable acts, which were formulated in the 18th century. With such an act, is India trying to prove that it is very gentle on terrorists?

However, if tragedies like this strike again, India should particularly mention that they won’t budge in raising costs for Pakistan in terms of strategies, that also includes suspension of diplomatic dialogues, military beats, quasi military beats or non military beats.

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