By JK Verma
New Delhi. 02 March 2018. The reprehensible Border Action Team (BAT) which was first noticed in August 2013 was constituted to dominate the Line of Control (LoC) and carryout ignominious acts, with ulterior motive to demoralize Indian security forces. BAT commandos cross LoC and enter in Indian Territory and execute some ghastly acts which any professional army will be ashamed to do. The dishonourable acts include abduction, mutilation of bodies and beheading of Indian soldiers or civilians, chopping off nose or ears of dead Indians etc.
The LoC is not demarcated and there are no fencing or boundary pillars. There is only imaginary line, although there are few landmarks like water bodies, rocks, grown up trees etc. nonetheless these landmarks change with passage of time. Here the armies of both the countries face each other, which give the nefarious BAT, opportunities to target Indian security forces especially patrol and Indian citizens.
It is not practical to post security personnel on every meter and there are gaps, may be because of geographical conditions or may be because paucity of manpower. BATs exploit these gaps for infiltrating terrorists and apprehending Indian security personnel who are patrolling the area. Generally they attack Indian patrols while they go towards the forward posts ahead of fencing. Several times BAT also uses explosives and bombs to assist infiltration of terrorists. Pakistan has no fencing as India does not infiltrate terrorists hence BAT easily moves in Indian side ahead of fencings.
The information about the presence of BAT in Pakistani posts alarms Indian pickets and the patrols had to be strengthened as small patrols can be targeted by BAT, movement of logistics needs more security personnel and these measures enhances the gaps between patrols which is exploited by infiltrators.
BAT consists of mainly commandos of Special Services Group (SSG), however they have also included some brutal Islamic Jihadists of diverse terrorist outfits including Lashker-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harakatul Mujahideen etc. The terrorists and SSG personnel after selection are given special training in guerilla warfare, jungle warfare and are also trained with Army and Air Force especially in intense environment. They are also trained in laying ambushes and the snipers in the team can target Indian artillery positions.
BAT which consists of four to six persons plans the operations quite minutely before launching. First they make reconnaissance of the area and adjudge the time and strength of Patrol of Indian security forces. Pakistan Rangers extend their full support and provide cover to BAT teams by firing guns and mortars. Generally BAT takes action at the time of handing and taking over of units as at that time people are busy in several administrative works.
Personnel of BAT are equipped with AK-47 Rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, grenades, petrol bombs, ‘special daggers’, energy food, satellite phones, upgraded GPS system, snow clothing including boots etc. so that they can carry out the grisly acts.
BAT, which has full support from Pakistani army, carried out appalling acts several times. In January 2013 Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded while in October and November 2016 bodies of Indian soldiers were disfigured. Again in May 2017 BAT entered Indian Territory and mutilated two soldiers in Krishna Ghati sector. In June 2017 BAT again killed two Indian soldiers but India in reprisal immediately killed two BAT commandos. Recently on February 19 Indian security personnel killed one BAT commando and grievously injured two more in Gulpur area on the border. Before the entry of BAT Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked heavy firing of small arms, mortars etc to distract Indian troops but now Indian troops are aware the technique and responded the heavy firing and also killed BAT commando.
Pakistani terrorists were involved in these types of horrendous acts before also. Initially BAT launched clandestine operations but after sometime the operations were exposed and became counter-productive as mutilating the bodies of Indian soldiers further deteriorated relations between India and Pakistan
Pakistan claims that BAT is a figment of imagination of Indian media and Pakistan army is a professional force and it would never resort to these types of ghastly acts. However it is an open secret that BAT is a creation of sinister Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and it has full blessings of the Pakistan Army. ISI has included few terrorists in BAT so that when BAT members are killed or apprehended they claim that they were non-state actors and Army has no role to play in it.
BAT has put pressure on the Indian security forces as they enter in Indian Territory and abduct and mutilate the bodies of personnel of security forces. In fact entering in Indian Territory tantamount to surgical strike, as Pakistani security forces under the garb of BAT are conducting surgical strikes, India has full right to retaliate.
India had already carried out one surgical strike in Myanmar and other in Pakistan and both had positive results. Surgical strike in Myanmar gave a stern message to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) that the present government will take stringent action if they continue to launch terrorist actions in India.
In a surgical strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) on September 29, 2015 the valiant Indian army personnel destroyed seven launching pads and killed more than 40 Pakistanis including terrorists, guides and their trainers who were from Pakistan army.
Now Indian army must plan surgical strikes on terrorist training camps so that leaders of terrorists and high level army personnel who are supervising the training and recruitment of terrorists are killed. Extermination of terrorist leaders and senior army officers will give a blunt message that now India is changed and it will not tolerate infiltration of terrorists or unpardonable acts of BAT against our security personnel.
The surgical strikes even in deep inside POK will not be unlawful as POK is part of India which is illegally occupied by Islamabad. Pakistan army knows that they cannot defeat Indian army in conventional war and New Delhi will have to give a clear message that India is not afraid of their nuclear warheads and if it will not stop low intensity war, Indian forces will enter in Pakistan and will demolish the training camps.
However surgical strikes that too deep inside enemy territory against army supported terrorists needs meticulous and comprehensive planning as Pakistan army which projects itself as the saviour of the country have to retaliate. The terrorist training camps are temporary constructions hence Indian intelligence agencies have to collect accurate and timely information so that action can be taken. Air Force and army should also be ready for the worst but surgical strikes deep inside terrorist camps are essential if Delhi wants to prevent killings of our brave security personnel and constant bleeding of the country by Pakistan sponsored terrorists.
In case surgical strike by army is difficult, Indian Air Force should demolish the terrorist training camps. The information can be collected through technical gadgets. Special operations can also be launched to collect specific information about terrorists training camps. There can be joint operation of Army and Air Force against terrorist camps.
These surgical strikes will demoralise Pakistan army, sinister ISI, BAT and also the terrorists. It will also shatter the myth that Indian forces will not cross the border and terrorist training camps are safe.
Senior Officers of Pakistan army who have amassed illegal money in the country and abroad may not like to go for a full-fledged conventional war. They may augment terrorist attacks on important Indian installations but India is already facing the low intensity war hence it may not be of much significance.
Besides surgical strikes India should also take some other important actions such as withdrawal of Most Favoured Nations (MFN) status. Delhi should start making efforts so that we can use 20 percent water share under Indus Water Treaty.
Indian political leaders must understand that there can be no truce between India and Pakistan as the survival of latter is on hate India campaign. Both countries are negotiating directly or indirectly from last seventy years but the talks were fruitless for Delhi though Islamabad was able to create a lobby which presses India for peaceful negotiations after overlooking Pakistan’s warlike actions. Hence India instead of wasting time and energy in dialogue should try to weaken Pakistan so much that it cannot dare to fight against India even if China instigates it.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and a retired senior intelligence officer. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)