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Measure for Measure

With the presence of IMA, Dehradun can be a soft target of terrorists....

As dust settles after the mayhem in Mumbai, most of us here in Dehra Dun are still in disbelief. How can such a thing happen, is the general refrain and is the topic of debate from the pan shops to the lobbies of five star hotels. Our heart goes out to the NSG commando from Dehra Dun who sacrificed his life in Mumbai.

Can it happen in Dehra Dun? Most of Doonites feel we would be sitting ducks if the terrorists so desired. Borders of our State with UP are porous and poorly manned. A 50/- rupee bribe can get anything inside our State without any check. Our borders with Nepal are open, mountainous and scantily manned. The problem of illegal Bangladeshi migrants has never been assessed and over the last year, one Bangladeshi family was caught living illegally in Dehra Dun. If that is all, then ours must be the least infiltrated state in India! Our police force has as much political interference as any other State in India and is as under equipped and under manned. Are we waiting for a jolt from the sky?

SIM Cards obtained by fraud have played an important role in terrorist activities in India. Terrorists use such Cards for exploding bombs and for communication. Here again, we have not learned anything. In Uttarakhand too, in their rush to maximize customer base, mobile companies never refuse any new connection application. All that is needed is a photocopy of an id proof. The original ID is neither asked for nor examined to rule out forgery. While we so easily deride the politicians, for small amounts of money we too put our nation at risk. The practice of field agents of Mobile companies’ physically verifying addresses of new customers has been given a quite burial. And the penalty levied on Mobile Operators for giving out unverified connections that play with security of our Nation is a ridiculous Rs. 1000/- per connection! Will our State government wake up to this threat?

Why would terrorists be interested in our city? One for the Indian Military Academy, two there is a small and relatively poorly guarded Airport and three our State can be used as safe houses. Are the IMA and the Airport prepared for a full scale frontal assault by vehicles of gun blazing terrorists? That is for them to decide, but this preparedness in now required, not for a day or week or even a month, but as a part of daily routine.

While driving along Chakrata Road, a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine, saw a car which did not seem quite right to her. “Odd” out of place, people were sitting inside with a large number of items wrapped in blankets. The sight shook her so much, that she actually noted down the vehicle number and tried to give it to the next policeman she came up to. And guess what he did, he simply shrugged it off by saying “I have no wireless”!

As the country mourns Mumbai, celebrations for marriage, receptions, festivals and the New Year are bound to be subdued. A number of sensitive individuals have cancelled or at least drastically scaled down receptions in Mumbai and New Delhi. Hotels have also decided to cancel Christmas and New Year Bashes. The Dehra Dun Anglo – Indian Association has very nobly cancelled their Christmas and New Year celebrations this year. Perhaps hotels and other Associations in Dehra Dun, too, should follow the example by keeping their celebrations low key. And most important of all, perhaps we all should pray for our Government to wake up before it is too late.

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