As attacks on Indian Army establishments continue with the latest being in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, the government is yet to release vital funds for upgrading security at defence establishments as suggested by a committee that was formed following last year’s attack on the Pathankot air base….writes Anjali Ojha
According to highly placed sources, as per the guidelines issued on the basis of a report of a committee under former Army Vice Chief, Lt. Gen. Philip Campose, Rs 2,000 crore (over $310 million) had to be given for upgradating security at defence establishments over two years.
Of this, half the money, that is Rs 1,000 crore , was supposed to be given this year. However, there has not been any allocation by the Defence Ministry so far.
“The peripheral security at many Army camps is rather elementary; there are barbed wire fences; tin sheets are put on the fences at places so that any movement may create a noise and alert the guards. These barbed wires are very basic and not sufficient for protection, especially in forward areas,” an army officer who did not want to be named, said.
“Even the lighting is basic, plus most camps and establishments have dense vegetation around. This provides terrorists a good hideout,” the officer added.
The Panzgam army camp in Kupwara district, which was attacked on April 27, had a two-layered barbed-wire fence, which the terrorists managed to break through. Three soldiers were killed and seven were injured, while two terrorists were also killed.
The Indian Air Force base in Pathankot was attacked on January 2, 2016. Firing and combing operations went on for at least four days, leaving seven security personnel and one civilian dead and 37 security personnel and one civilian injured. All four terrorists, who were from Pakistan, were killed.
The Campose committee, with three Army officers and one officer each from the IAF and the Navy, was formed on February 8. It submitted its report on May 20, 2016. Subsequently, guidelines were issued to all defence establishment on enhancing security based on its recommendations.
The recommendations included integrated response by the three services through a coordinated mechanism and upgrading the Defence Security Corps (DSC).
A standard operating procedure (SOP) on the security of defence establishments was promulgated, and the establishments were divided into different categories based on threat perception.
There are around 600 CAT A establishments, the highest category; around 1,000 each in CAT B and CAT C; and 200 in CAT D, according to sources.
Short-, mid- and long-term measures were recommended. The short-term measures included perimeter security and access control by hardening perimeter fences, lighting, intrusion alarms and surveillance cameras.
The long-term measures included installation of technology-based security infrastructure, positioning of well-trained, armed and equipped Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) at high-threat and high-priority military bases, and conduct of periodic security audits in other establishments.
Other long-term measures included construction of boundary walls and putting in place high-end modern security infrastructure in a phased manner, for which additional funds are required.
For the short-term measures, the army was to use its own funds and so far Rs 300 crore has been spent, the sources said.
However, the Defence Ministry has not released any funds so far.
“The Centre has not given any funds for enhancing security infrastructure so far. Army has spent from its own funds, but the long-term measures require more money,” the officer said.
In the recently-concluded budget session of parliament, a parliamentary panel on defence had rapped the government for not taking any “concrete measures” following terror attacks at Uri, Pathankot and other places.
The panel said it was “disturbed” to note the “apparent lack of sincerity” on the part of the Defence Ministry and desired that the situation should improve, adding that necessary measures should be taken to ensure that intrusions do not recur.
Later in the same session, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said Guidelines for Security of Defence Installations had been issued.
But, as the officer pointed out, guidelines are fine but where is the money to implement them?