Vigilance: Key to security
The unpredictable nature of
terrorism - and terrorists - was again evident on Thursday, when
the LTTE exploded a claymore bomb in Colombo, close to the Port.
Although the target was an Army bus, the bomb was placed in a
busy area of the city with a substantial civilian population.
Fortunately, there were only a few casualties.
This is a tactic that the LTTE uses whenever it faces
military losses in operational theatres. Heavily defeated in the
East and evicted from its former strongholds, the terror group
needs some oxygen to survive in an increasingly hostile
environment. It needs to convince its sympathisers here and
abroad, for funding purposes, that it is active.
But the main aim of the Tigers is to divert the attention of
the Security Forces away from the conflict areas. If the
Security Forces are compelled to move personnel to
non-operational areas, that will give a chance for the LTTE to
strengthen itself militarily.
The Security Forces are well aware of this danger and the
LTTE's track record of terror targeting military and civilian
It must be recalled that when they were facing a series of
defeats in the East, the Tigers exploded several bus bombs which
resulted in the deaths of nearly 50 innocent civilians in the
South. However, contrary to the LTTE's expectations, these
incidents did not have a major impact either on the civilian
population in the South or Security Forces deployment.
This is the true face of terrorism. As the famous saying
goes, terrorists have to be lucky only once, whereas Governments
and Armed Forces have to be lucky all the time.
As the quotation implies, all they need is one loophole, one
lax movement to achieve their ignoble designs. There is only one
answer to this dilemma. Relentless vigilance. Many people
harbour the notion that ensuring the country's security is the
sole prerogative of the Security Forces. Nothing could be more
While the Security Forces and Police are manning hundreds of
checkpoints, guarding vital installations, engaged in mobile
patrols and gathering intelligence, they cannot practically hope
to be everywhere and provide blanket security.
This is where the public comes in to the picture. They should
be the eyes and ears of the Security Forces at this critical
juncture. If they see anything unusual, any suspicious
individuals, parcels or vehicles, their duty is to immediately
inform the nearest Police or Security Forces
personnel/detachment or phone one of the many 24-hour hotlines
established for this purpose.
Several tragedies have been avoided in the recent past due to
quick thinking and immediate action by civilians. There have
been instances of civilians in the North-East who defied Tiger
terror to provide tip-offs to the Security Forces.
Even in the Pettah bomb case, there is no doubt that someone
would have seen the motorcycle with an unusual cargo - a
claymore bomb. Several lives could have been saved if it was
noticed in time. A keen eye and a sense of responsibility can
indeed save hundreds of lives.
In our case, we cannot afford to let down our guard for one
minute as we are dealing with one of the most ruthless terrorist
organisations in the world. The LTTE has repeatedly proved it
has no qualms about committing mass murder in the name of
This is why we must be vigilant all the time, wherever we
are. Sometimes a suspicious object or person can turn out be
perfectly innocent, but that is a small price to pay for peace
of mind and security.
This brings us to the whole question of the 'inconvenience'
caused to the public by security measures. Some measure of
inconvenience is inevitable in an environment of heightened
security. That should be tolerated for the greatest good of the