New Delhi: Following the end of a 36-hour gunbattle between Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), security experts and intelligence officials said that all security bases in Kashmir are susceptible to such attacks, exposing their vulnerability.
The Union home ministry recorded as many as 322 incidents of terrorist violence in 2016 and 337 in 2017, which left 82 and 75 security personnel dead, respectively, in the two years.
JeM attacks on the Indian Army’s brigade headquarters in Uri in 2016 and the Border Security Force (BSF) camp in Srinagar in October and the CRPF training centre in Pulwama on the weekend, show the vulnerability of the security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The JeM especially has been targeting security establishments. It is not a coincidence, but a well thought out and planned exercise on their part. They have been identifying such camps and keeping a close watch for weeks at a stretch, with adequate help from local villagers," said a senior intelligence official on condition of anonymity.
Security and defence experts said the surroundings of such camps made them especially vulnerable.
“Many camps have trees just outside the vicinity. Even though several appeals have been made to chop the trees down for security measures, the National Green Tribunal has disagreed. These trees facilitate militant movement because it’s very easy to cross into the security base," said Gaurav Arya, a former Indian Army officer and internal security expert.
While the government is yet to implement the recommendations made by the high-level committee headed by former vice chief of army staff, Phiip Campose, following the Pathankot airbase attack in 2015, defence experts said it was theoretically impossible to remain vigilant in the camps at all times.
One of the recommendations focused on fortifying India’s army, navy and air force bases using superior technology.
Experts say the root cause lay in India failing to militarily deter Pakistan and its proxy war.
“In a camp, one-third of the forces are resting, one-third are out patrolling and one-third are manning the base, in shifts. No one can maintain a high state of alert at all times and terrorists keep a close watch of these movements. At the moment, Pakistan is unfazed by surgical strikes also and continues to fund the terrorists and we have been unable to stop them," said H.S. Panag, a former lieutenant general in the Indian Army.