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December 27, 1999
Flight 814 is a warning of things to come
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
The hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight is a precursor to the events that would shortly unfold all over India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, authoritative intelligence sources have said.
"The most important lesson the country has learnt from this is that we need to immediately put in place an apparatus that would make better use of our intelligence networks," an official of a key intelligence agency told rediff.com.
"This would not have been possible without elaborate planning and involvement of some officials at the airport. If those things went unnoticed, then there is something wrong with our intelligence system," he added.
The involvement of the Islamic fundamentalist group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the landing in Afghanistan and the nonco-operation of the Pakistan government are all warnings for the Indian government.
"Even at diplomatic level the situation has drastically changed in the region. It is time that the country got ready to meet the evolving challenges," said a senior Military Intelligence official in New Delhi.
He said the hijack is also "a bloody warning for us to gear up to face unexpected challenges in Kashmir."
Despite increased security in Kashmir and heavy snowfalls, this winter could witness "unexpected challenges," he said.
The army has already stepped up its vigil in the valley in the wake of the hijacking.
Intelligence sources pointed out that the brazen attacks on defence establishments including the headquarters of 15 Corps in Srinagar, and other recent developments were a "warning to us that the most unexpected should be awaited."
The Indian government, they continued, only *receive* intelligence reports; never do they act on those.
The sources said the government would have to immediately look at improving the country's intelligence operations.
"Presently there are over 30 intelligence agencies working with almost no co-operation among themselves. There is a flood of reports on a daily basis, most of them mere speculations," a senior official in one of the intelligence agencies said.
"The existing co-ordinating bodies are not effective. The government will have to look at the possibility of putting in place an apparatus that can co-ordinate better between agencies," he added.
Intelligence failure was pointed out as the key reason for the Kargil intrusions. Sources say that during routine briefings much before the incident, agencies including the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing had warned the government of such a possibility. But no one heeded the advice.
In this case too, that seems to be the case.
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