In a strongly-worded commentary in a top defence journal, a Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) thinktank consultant has said that the Uri terrorist attack, in which 18 Indian soldiers were martyred, shows “it needs little intuition or professional knowledge to conclude that there were serious lapses in following Standard Operating Procedures.”
Pointing out that there can be “little doubt that this has deeply embarrassed the Army, especially the battalions involved, and must be attributed to what the military terms 'command failure'”, Brigadier Deepak Sinha in his article titled “The Uri fiasco and ensuring accountability”, however, insists, “Under no circumstances can the Army behave as if it is a victim of 'terrorism'.”
Attached with Observer Research Foundation, he says, “No other mindset can otherwise explain why the Army has meekly submitted to the Government's direction for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Uri disaster, just as the Air Force had earlier, after the fiasco of the attack on Pathankot Air Force Station.”
“Obviously, those dealing with the subject in the Armed Forces are not conversant with the charter and duties of the NIA and the fact that it is a police establishment meant for conducting 'counter-terrorism and other national security related investigations at the national level' aimed at 'creating deterrence for existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals',” Sinha points out.
“In simple terms, this implies that after a terrorist attack they (NIA) are responsible for detecting the identity of those involved, tracking them down, arresting them and then bringing them to justice. How can suicidal 'raid' on a military logistic base, to use military terminology, fall within the jurisdiction of the NIA or in their area of expertise?”, he asks.
Wondering how could NIA “investigate the actions of combat units during any tactical operation, whatever be its result”, Sinha says, “It is one thing for army investigators to seek for their assistance to probe involvement of locals who may have been involved or assisted in any way, but quite another to have them as the lead agency for the investigation.”
Sinha states, “The truth of the matter is that the politico-bureaucrat nexus has intentionally kept the military out of national security policy making and has also willfully fooled the public on budgetary allotments for defence”, adding, “The politico-bureaucrat nexus has intentionally kept the military out of national security policy making and has also willfully fooled the public on budgetary allotments for defence.”
Pointing out how over decades, the government’s in power have “manipulated capital allotments for new equipment to meet unexpected expenses that may have arisen”, Sinha says, “With the active connivance of the MOD (Finance) all bureaucratic measures are put to good use to delay or derail the procurement process, resulting in vast amounts remaining unspent.”
Sinha underlines, “While that has been smart politics on the part of the government of the day, the fact that couldn’t be wished away was that the Armed Forces were increasingly burdened with obsolete equipment and huge shortages which made them increasingly incapable of meeting their constitutional obligations.”
“Thus, if troops in Uri were lacking in suitable detection equipment, proper protective perimeter fencing and were forced to stay in tents instead of hardened shelters, one does not have to look far for reasons for this state of affairs and where that responsibility lies”, Sinha reasons.