Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 20 March 2018
Former DGMO, Indian Army, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia raised alarm of a possible nuclear (CBRN) attack by lone wolf terrorist at crowded places in India. He urged intelligence agencies to look for the threat.
“We have gatherings in a cricket match hundred thousand, we have religious gatherings which has over a hundred thousands; Such vast gatherings and if you go to a metro station, such vast movement is taking place and all these threats where even one man, lone wolf attack, we call it, one man with CBRNE kind of material, the amount of damage it can cause is tremendous and actually unimaginable”, Gen Bhatia said.
He said that Mayapuri incident in Delhi proves today Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) material is within the reach of terrorists.
“So CBRNE materials are easily available and can be easily made available in India. Mayapuri incident is one such example, there are radiological material which are easily available. These can be taken by elements and pose threats to our nation”.
Gen Bhatia also delved into the issue of cyber nuclear threat which can create huge panic. The latest CBRNE threat is also emerging from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are easily available in the market at a much cheaper cost.
“Through cyber you can access and take control of the existing material and through cyber itself, you can create havoc. So that is something, DG DIA is here, which we have to assess the threat what is bad or good the threat is”.
“And the second thing, which is changing, is the UAVs, today you can buy off the shelf, it doesn’t cost whatsoever. And UAV has certain payload and a small payload of UAV can cause havoc into the area; so CBRN threat is actually real”.
Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, who is currently the director of Centre For Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), an autonomous think tank under the aegis of Ministry of Defence pointed out the nexus between terrorists, Pakistan Army and China vis-à-vis CBRNE threat emerging in South Asia.
“Pakistan Army derives their nuclear policy and these terrorist groups which are non-state actors by the world definition are actually state actors. They are supported, they are trained, they are housed and they are financed, they are recruited and the attacks are engineered by the Pakistani Army and Pakistani ISI. So we should not actually call them non state actors as they are part of the state policy”.
“What China did, was it gave missile technology to North Korea and nuclear technology to Pakistan and thereafter let Pakistan give the nuclear technology to North Korea and missile technology from Korea went to Pakistan. The two were to be used as proxies one for India and one for US and world”.
In recent past there have been unverified news of China training Pakistani ISI for CBRNE use and the same ISI cadets were said to be deployed at the Line of Control (LOC).
He urged the armed forces medical officers at ‘6th Workshop on Medical Management of CBRNE casualties for Medical Officers’ to remain prepared as armed forces will be the first responder in case of any CBRNE emergency, while delivering keynote address. The workshop was inaugurated by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra.
“If use of CBRN weapons happen, who is going to be the first responders. We have the NDMA, we have other responders. But my experience says that the first responder and I may say initially the only responder will be the armed forces. I was the Corps Commander, in September 2000, in Sikkim when earthquake happened. During Uttarakhand, we were the first responders. You take any disaster, we were the first responders and on an average the armed forces are called out thrice a week for aid to civil authorities”.
“We are a nation of competing priorities, our budgets are limited, we have to ensure that our everyday war fighting capabilities are maintained, sustained and you may not see the sort of capability building the CBRN as you like; but we are armed forces of constraints and restraints and we always function under constraints and there was the leadership we always done very well. Our men are the best”, he added.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.