The Terror Challenge in Poonch


    In News

    • Recently, an ambush on an Army truck killed five soldiers in Poonch.
      • Three other major incidents including the Poonch incident took place in the last six months, within kilometres of each other in the Rajouri-Poonch area
      • The incident highlights the importance of securing the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri to the overall terrorist challenge in Jammu & Kashmir.

    The terror challenge in the region

    • Targeting Jammu after decades:
      • After a gap of almost two decades, cross-border terrorists have set their sights on Jammu once again, perhaps in the hope of exploiting its openly communal atmosphere. 
    • Support from local communities:
      • Their ability to carry out these attacks and melt into the forests indicates support from local communities, which had been hostile to the presence of both foreign and Kashmiri militants from about 2000 onwards.
    • Proximity to the LoC: 
      • The terrain, the target’s proximity to the LoC and a mix of population keep the area in a state of higher vulnerability – it’s this vulnerability that terrorist groups aim to target.
    • Background events:
      • In the background of the fast-approaching dates of two international events – the G20 Tourism meeting in Srinagar in May and the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa, also in early May, and the ongoing worldwide activities of Khalistan separatism, the aim could be to below the threshold of India’s tolerance.  
        • The G20 Tourism Meeting at Srinagar in the third week of May 2023. 
          • Disrupting the event and having it cancelled is probably the attack’s aim, especially because the meet is an opportunity for India to showcase an integrated J&K to an important forum.

    India’s terrorism challenge

    • Kashmir:
      • The security situation in Kashmir did take a turn for the good after the abrogation of Article 370 with respect to organised terror, but new challenges emerged in the form rise in lone-wolf attacks and increased use of drones for cross-border terrorism.
    • Sikh separatism:
      • The dormant sentiments of Sikh separatism are increasingly showing signs of revival, with the socio-political situation in Punjab taking a radical turn.
    • Cross-border narco-terror networks:
      • In both Kashmir and Punjab, a growing trend of increased drug abuse is fuelled by cross-border narco-terror networks.
    • Terror drones:
      • India is still not adequately equipped to tackle the challenge of terror drones, whose sightings had multiplied significantly in 2022.
    • Formalisation of terrorism:
      • Many states continue to use armed non-state actors for their own objectives, indicating a worrying trend in the formalisation of terrorism.
    • Good & bad terrorism approach:
      • Pakistan’s policy of treating the groups that threaten its internal security, such as the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as enemies and the Indian focussed groups such as Jamat ud Dawa (JuD), as friendlies shows its convenient policy stand towards terrorism.


    • Pragmatic approach:
      • Recalibration to balance out the attention between the northern and western borders will ensure greater pragmatism and the proper security focus. 
      • The strategic community and the media must assume a larger and more pragmatic role to tackle such events.
    • Need of coordinated efforts:
      • There is also a clear need for counter-terrorism agencies across the world to function in a more coordinated manner, exchanging both intelligence and tactics.
    • No good or bad terrorism:
      • What is most needed by world leaders is not to treat some terrorists as good and others as bad, based on each nation’s predilections.
    • Reactivating the proposal for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT):
      • The next step is to reactivate the proposal for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) that has been on hold and finalise the list of items needed to check terrorism globally.
        • India first proposed this in the 1990s.
      • Once the CCIT is accepted by the UN, the war on terror would gain a new salience.
    • Newer patterns of terror:
      • World needs to take stock of the newer patterns of terror such as ‘enabled terrorism’ and ‘remote control terrorism’.
        • Remote control terrorism: Violence conceived and guided by controllers thousands of miles away, positing the dangers of Internet-enabled terrorism. 
      • Counter-terrorism experts will again need to enlarge their expertise to accommodate multi-domain operations, and undertake terror ‘gaming’, all of which have become essential in today’s day and age.

    India’s efforts in combating terrorism

    • Acts & agencies:
      • Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System: 
        • It vastly improves the capability of Border Security Force (BSF) in detecting and controlling the cross border crimes like illegal infiltration, smuggling of contraband goods, human trafficking and cross border terrorism, etc.
      • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967: 
        • It enables more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities, and other related matters.
      • National Investigation Agency: 
        • It is India’s counter-terrorist task force and is empowered to deal with terror-related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
      • Policy of Zero-Tolerance Against Terrorism: 
        • India calls for zero-tolerance against terrorism and focuses on developing a common strategy to curb it.
    • India’s action plan at UNSC:
      • In January 2021, at the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373, India presented an eight-point action plan to deal with the scourge of terrorism.
        • Summoning the political will to unhesitatingly combat terrorism.
        • Decrying double standards in the fight against terrorism.
        • Reform of the working methods of the Committees dealing with Sanctions and Counter-Terrorism.
        • Firmly discouraging exclusivist thinking that divides the world and harms the social fabric.
        • Enlisting and delisting individuals and entities under the UN sanctions regimes objectively not for political or religious considerations.
        • Fully recognising and addressing the link between terrorism and transnational organized crime.
        • Combating terrorist financing.
        • Immediate attention to adequate funding to UN Counter-Terrorism bodies from the UN regular budget.

    Way ahead

    • On the virtue of India’s chairmanship of the UNSC’s Counter-Terrorism Committee and its joining of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) concentrating on extensive Counter-Terrorism cooperation through its Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), it can take the leading role in tackling terrorist challenges.

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Analyse the importance of securing the border districts of Jammu & Kashmir to deal with the overall terrorist challenge in the region. How can India take the leading role in tackling the global terrorism challenge?