NEW DELHI: The security establishment, particularly the higher echelons of the army, were introspecting after criticism of its inability to guard its own establishments till this evening when the forces were still trying to eliminate the militants who attacked the Sunjuwan camp, that includes family quarters, of soldiers of the 36 brigade near Jammu.
The government “has sanctioned Rs 1,487 crore to the army for perimeter security,” defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted even as gunshots could be heard from outside the Sunjuwan camp. The camp had been attacked earlier too in 2013.
The attack follows a pattern: as in Kaluchak at the height of Operation Parakram – the India-Pakistan military stand-off in 2002 following the attack on Parliament (December 13, 2001) – the militants had entered the camp. At Kaluchak the death roll totalled 34 after 48 hours and almost led to war.
At that time too the NDA government (headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee) was in power with lofty promises of making the country secure from terror attacks. The Modi administration has been even more emphatic in its rhetoric to guarantee security.
But in the last two years, the pattern repeated itself in Pathankot and in Uri where too the terrorists managed to enter army and/or air force bases. After the attack on the Uri garrison, the army announced “surgical strikes” on terror camps in PoK on September 29, 2016. But those attacks have failed to deter both, ceasefire violations and raids by militants.
Shortly after the Pathankot attack in January 2016, the government formed a committee headed by the former vice chief of army staff, Lt General Philip Campose (retired). The committee recommended greater use of technology, like sensors, arming guards with more modern weapons and a sensitive intelligence network because, as Campose subsequently wrote, it was impossible to seal the Line of Control through which Pakistan-backed militants entered.
Yet, the government has not substantially increased the capital budget for the army for perimeter security in this year’s defence allocations that total Rs 2,94,427 crore that is barely 1.82 per cent of the GDP. The defence establishment had asked for allocations of upto 2.5 per cent of the GDP.
The Campose committee recommended extra fortifications for the perimeters of more than 2500 military establishments across the country. It said the first phase for perimeter security reinforcement should begin with military stations in Jammu and Kashmir followed by the North East.
The Campose committee, that included representatives from all three armed forces, submitted its report in March 2017. The following month a Parliamentary Committee described the security of military stations as “vulnerable”.
On Saturday, minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju, also met defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Sitharaman said she has set a deadline of 10 months till December this year to implement the perimeter security plan.