It would be a serious error to view decline in the number of terrorist strikes in India over the past two years as evidence of terrorism being under check, West Bengal Governor M.K. Nayaranan said Monday.
The governor also noted that there was a possibility of both the intensity and the number of attacks being stepped up “in the period ahead”.
Delivering the first R.V. Raju Memorial Lecture on “National Security – Expanding Terrorist Dynamic” at the National Investigation Agency Day function here, Narayanan said terrorism remains a grave threat to the civilised world, contrary to the perception of some security and strategic analysts in the West.
Narayanan, a former national security advisor, said both the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Taiba networks remain active in the country. He said Pakistan appears determined to support jihadist elements to keep India off-balance.
“Both Let and IM networks remain active despite claims to the contrary. It would be a mistake to believe otherwise. On the other hand, given the new terrorist dynamic, one should envisage the possibility of both the intensity and the number of attacks being stepped up in the period ahead. The likelihood of possible ‘suicide missions’ also needs to be factored into future calculation,” Narayanan said.
He said separating terrorist outfits from bodies that profess to be political in character was indeed a major challenge.
“Intelligence reports do report the existence of links of some members of these bodies with LeT, but confirmation of their involvement in terrorist action has not been forthcoming. The police, in concerned states, are convinced that ‘fringe members’ of these organisations act as conveyor belts and collaborators. Consequently, the ambit of terrorist activities in the country is steadily becoming enlarged, rather than diminishing,” he said.
Narayanan said India cannot afford to ignore the extraordinary comeback of several Al Qaeda affiliates across parts of Asia and Africa and Russia.
“Premature rejoicing about the demise of syndicated terrorism following the killing of Osama bin Laden have proved to be misplaced. Events of the past several months tell a different story and there are lessons in this for all of us in India, both in terms of terrorist ideology and tactics,” he said.
Noting that the principal focus of NIA should be proper investigation of terrorist incidents and crimes, he said the agency should not branch out into speculative analysis.
Narayanan urged the government to avoid the temptation of using NIA in areas that do not fall within its core tasks.
“There has, unfortunately, been a tendency on the part of the government, in case of other central agencies, to employ them in areas that do not fall within their core tasks and responsibilities,” the former police officer said.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who presided over the function, said the country’s enemies, who were “against the idea of India will try to keep us on tenterhooks and unsettle us.”
Referring to terrorism, Shinde said: “The epicentre (of terrorism) remains in (India’s) neighbourhood”.