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Sunjwan Army Camp Attack

iasparliament
February 13, 2018
6 months
863
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Why in news?

The Sunjwan Army camp near Chenni in Jammu was recently attacked suspectedly by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants.

What happened?

  • At least three terrorists are said to have entered the camp through a nullah (water stream).
  • Six persons, including 5 soldiers and a civilian, were killed.
  • 3 suspected JeM terrorists were killed in Army's retaliatory action.
  • A large quantity of arms and ammunition was seized from them.
  • The army continued with the search operation at the camp.

                                

Is this new?

  • This is not the first time the Sunjuwan Army camp is targeted.
  • In 2003, it was attacked by 2 fidayeen, and 12 soldiers were killed.
  • They were said to have cut a wire fence on their way in.
  • Other notable attacks in the recent past include the following -
  1. 2002 - Kaluchak, where terrorists targeted a tourist bus and an Army camp, killing 38
  2. 2003 - fidayeen entered the Army camp in Tanda, north of Jammu, and killed 8 men
  3. 2015 - attack on a camp on the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway in Samba district; 2 army personnel were killed
  4. 2015 - militants stormed a police station in Kathua, killing 7 people
  5. 2016 - fidayeen targeted an Army camp in Nagrota in Jammu, killing 7 soldiers

What is the perpetual problem?

  • Civilian settlements - Jammu city alone has 5 major Army camps under the Western Command.
  • These are Chatha, Ratnuchak, Kaluchak, Satwari and Sunjuwan.
  • Besides, there are a couple of smaller camps.
  • Each of these small and large bases is surrounded by civilian settlements, with hotels, malls and even schools lining up.
  • The militants often choose these vulnerable sites with sprawling civilian population with women and children as their targets.
  • Efforts at evicting people closer to the camps have seen opposition from property owners and matters still remain in the court.
  • These make it difficult to monitor the militants' movements and thwart their plans.
  • Security - Army camps in the Jammu region have for long been vulnerable to militant attacks.
  • Notably, many of the camps are protected only by barbed wire.
  • Fortifying the camps is essential for securing them.
  • But converting camps in the middle of thickly populated urban areas into permanent fortresses is hardly possible.

What were the responses?

  • After the earlier Sunjwan attack and 2016 Pathankot attack, fortifying the army camps was increasingly pushed for.
  • Strengthening the fortifications was also suggested.
  • “Smart” access control and fencing with sensors and alarm systems to detect intrusions in real time were suggested.
  • However, army camps still employ only limited resources and low cost solutions.
  • E.g. using treated Iron sheets to plug gaps in the wall
  • Only as the recent attack was underway, the government sanctioned around Rs 1,500 crore. 
  • This was for perimeter fortification at military installations across India.

What should be done?

  • It is important that any plan to address the issue of attacks should be multi-pronged.
  • Clearly, camp security is just one aspect.
  • Boundary walls, some sort of smart fencing, sensors, a control room to monitor the perimeter are some of the options.
  • Security plans for camps must remain “dynamic” to keep pace with changing environments around them due to the civilian push.
  • Consolidation i.e. squeezing of smaller pockets of camps into bigger ones is another important aspect.
  • This may make it easier for guarding the troops that are spread out.
  • The plan must also include bringing down the levels of infiltration from across the border.
  • A combination of manpower and smart technology should be employed.

                                                                                              

Source: Indian Express

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