St. Petersburg Metro Blast: Lessons for India

In light of yet another shattering St Petersburg train blast that killed 11 and left 45 injured going about their daily lives, the biggest question for India is: Are we prepared?

India is at high risk of being targeted, with reports of Islamic State operatives apparently making inroads into the country’s hinterlands.

While the authorities say that they are constantly foiling plots, they cannot be everywhere, and at all times. Some of that responsibility must fall on the public. As citizens, we need to be vigilant, too.

The St Petersburg train blast that killed 11 and left 45 injured could be very different to what comes next. Contrast this with India, There are a plethora of places that can be targeted and we’ll never be able to secure them all. There’s no such thing as total security to protect if people want to give up their lives. You can’t protect everywhere all the time.

Terrorists come from different quarters. They may be part of, or inspired by, the world’s largest militant organisations, notably IS. Or they may be lone wolves acting with little plotting, assistance or resources. These can be the hardest to predict. All these can be devastating.

Terrorists have long used bombs, guns and knives, but we have seen a recent return to cruder forms of attack, with killers using vehicles to mow people down in Nice, Melbourne and London.

The technical capabilities of terrorists to make bigger statements are ever increasing. Experts believe that there will continue to be a range of methods in the future. Access to local men and materials have to play an important part in these nefarious activities. This enlarges the scope of a number of people capable of carrying out a massacre well beyond those with access to and understanding of automatic weapons and chemicals. Crowded areas appear to be most used situation to create the maximum damage. The threat could strike almost anywhere in the world, but certain regions are particularly at risk. The West is a favourite target for jihadists.

India has extensive land borders, which are always more vulnerable. As for the type of location, it could be a seat of government, a sporting venue or anywhere busy. There have been terrorist threats on airports and airlines since the 1970s. Now air travel is so cost effective, it is easier to attack transport systems with fewer entry and exit points, low security and no ID checks.

The best thing we can do is to go about our daily lives as usual, but with an extra layer of vigilance. The experts agree that intelligence and knowing the movements of risky individuals is the best protection, but never foolproof.

People going about their business should be alert. The London footage was impressive in how it showed people dealing with the situation and then getting back to work. You could put in a lot of hardened security but that would limit people’s ability to go about their normal lives.

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