Rocket attacks reveal a terrorist-gangster alliance
The RPG attacks were conducted with the intention of sending a message about the capacity of anti-national elements to regularly conduct such strikes and build expertise for more successful and successful attacks in the future, rather than to cause extensive collateral damage. Attacks on the police and army are motivated by a desire to subvert the functioning of the government.
On December 10, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) assaulted the SARHALI police station in the Tarn Taran (Punjab) border district. Although there were no recorded casualties, the attack damaged some of the wall and the windowpanes of the adjacent Saanjh Kendar.
The seized RPG appeared to have been smuggled across the border, according to the authorities. This year, the Punjab Police have made numerous seizures of drones, weapons, and ammunition near the Pakistan-India border.
An RPG was fired earlier this year at the Mohali headquarters of the Punjab Police’s intelligence division. Three other attacks in Punjab have been carried out with non-RPG weaponry, including a grenade explosion outside the entrance of the Army cantonment in Pathankot.
The police and investigation teams reportedly discovered a pattern among several attacks. Money and foreign dreams were utilised to entice the accused to carry out these attacks. The attacks were carried out on the ground by gangsters, shooters, and even insignificant criminals.
The second RPG incident in the past seven months has significant security repercussions that need to be acknowledged and addressed before things get worse.
Both RPG attacks appear to have been carried out with a demonstrative intention rather than with the intention of causing significant collateral damage. This was done to demonstrate the anti-national elements’ ability to carry out such attacks repeatedly at will and to gain experience for future attacks that would be more successful and effective.
Attacks on the police and the Army are motivated by a desire to subvert the functioning of the government. This would eventually cause alienation and insecurity by giving the impression that the government is unable to protect its citizens.
These two attackers’ employment of RPG is concerning in and of itself. Regular militaries deploy the RPG, a heavy-calibre 70 mm weapon from the Soviet era, to eliminate tough targets. Between 2000 and 2014, there were just 43 occurrences of rocket assaults in J&K, according to South Asia Terrorism Portal.
It is concerning that such weapons are now available in Punjab. There are frequently reports of drones being used to transport drugs, guns, and ammunition across the border. In comparison to past years, Punjab has seen a worrisome surge in drone activity across the international border with Pakistan this year.
According to information available to the Punjab Police, the Border Security Force (BSF), which monitors the borders with Pakistan, has recorded 200 drone incidents this year at various sites along the border.
Drones are difficult to spot by conventional air-surveillance radars placed along the border because they fly at low altitudes above the earth. They have evolved as the main method for cross-border ferrying of unlawful consignments due to their small size and low cost.
Furthermore, the lack of victims indicates that untrained individuals rather than trained terrorists carried out these operations. Furthermore, a trained person would rarely be able to collect the rocket launcher used in the attack from the location. Additionally, it suggests that such weapon systems are widely accessible, eliminating the need to retrieve them following an attack.
More crucially, criminals masquerading like undercover members of terrorist organisations have been hired to carry out such acts. As time goes on, they can increase the terrorists’ importance and ability to survive, furthering the impression of anarchy and instability.
The results of the initial police investigation into the Tarn Taran incident clearly show the connection between terrorist organisations and criminal groups. The police claim that the attack on December 10 was planned by wanted terrorists with international connections under the direction of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with assistance from a prisoner currently housed in the Goindwal Sahib jail.
Four additional people were detained by the police who supported the two young attackers logistically. According to the Punjab DGP, handlers from overseas employed “cutouts and dead letter box procedures for retrieval of consignments and establishing contact so that the module members were assigned assignments directly by the handlers and were solely aware of their roles.”
Even sub-module identities were kept secret from other sub-modules. The assailants’ main driving force seems to be the promise of money.
The security apparatus must also acknowledge that these anti-national groups are capable of setting up safe homes and armament caches both in urban and rural Punjab. While funding for such attacks may come from outside sources, internal financing of terrorist activities also has to be investigated.
It is yet possible to stop this deterioration by dismantling the terrorist-criminal-gangster connection through diligent intelligence-based operations against anti-national groups and well-coordinated border management, including anti-drone measures.
The Ministry of Home Affairs should take the initiative in implementing anti-drone measures along the western border. Inter-agency cooperation, real-time intelligence sharing, a physical and technological surveillance grid, and the deployment of soft and hard kill counter-drone weapon systems along the border are all required.