Border Vigil

As the country fumbles for an answer to the 7/11 Mumbai blast, it is not a surprise that the northeast has emerged as an area of concern. According to Lieutenant General D B Shekhatkar, who commanded the IV Corps of the Indian Army responsible for counter-insurgency operations in Assam, the terror network in the Eastern sector is much more alarming than the Western sector. As rightly pointed out by him, at least in the Western sector, there is a security apparatus to confront any inimical designs but in the northeast, due to the lack of proper defense structure, it is conveniently possible for terror groups and elements to find a haven for their activities. On top of this, the northeast has become a major trade route for illegal arms and explosives. According to the Military Intelligence, the general route of explosives is from Bangladesh-northeast-Nepal-Uttar Pradesh to the exact destination. The use of the northeast as a safe corridor for inimical forces is therefore posing a major security challenge not only for the country but more so for the states in the region. 

As far as Nagaland goes, Dimapur is fast turning into a truly cosmopolitan centre and a gateway for the free flow of trade and services. From an economic perspective, the city remains unparalleled for the sheer volume of commercial transaction taking place. However, with the spatial and economic growth, Dimapur has also become notorious for illegal trade, trafficking, illegal migration, and a breeding ground for criminal and other anti-social activities. The numerous occasions leading to seizure of explosives at the railway station proves beyond doubt that Dimapur has become a conduit point for numerous clandestine activities. There have been credible reports that most of the explosives are either loaded or unloaded in Dimapur. The porous and open land border that runs along its periphery provide a favorable terrain for would be terror groups to thrive and operate on. 

The best way to deal with this emerging situation is to put in place pre-emptive security measures, which must be taken up on a priority basis and this requires the personal intervention of the Chief Minister and Home Minister. This should include among others, improving intelligence networks, inter-agency coordination, up-gradation of the state police force in terms of modernization, having better personnel with investigative skills, need for a criminal info data base and to improve on the criminal justice system. One of the other key problems of managing internal security in Nagaland has to do with the open borders which, are not regulated and protected in the way it should be. Unless something is done to improve border management, there is every possibility that the State will plunge further into an array of problems, disturbances and in the long run, even the probability of another catastrophe like the gruesome Dimapur bomb blast cannot be ruled out. Several suggestions had been made earlier by various organizations, including by the NSF, to improve the management of the State’s borders. Tight vigilance along the State’s border has to be taken up at the highest level of policy making given the fact that a major terrorist attack has already occurred within Nagaland’s border.