The launch of a new counter-terror hotline by the Rangers in Punjab should be welcomed across the board, for this means that the security forces are looking to involve the public for intelligence sharing on a wider scale. Greater contact between the security forces and the public is necessary to widen the intelligence network and establish a strong base for the rangers and the police to root out terrorist elements and sleeper cells within the community.

There is no longer any denying the fact that sympathisers and facilitators are well meshed within society, and can sometimes escape the notice of security agencies and intelligence operatives operating over the radar. But the community as a whole can notice behavioural patterns or other tell-tale signs that might be missed, which is why establishing this contact with the public is imperative.

It will also help in establishing a greater understanding of what the security forces do in the minds of the public. Operations against terrorists often seem shrouded in mystery, and the public is likely to take a more proactive approach to countering terrorism if its participation is being sought out by law enforcement agencies. If the threats pointed out by the people are taken seriously and end up nabbing real threats to the country, trust between the security forces and the people is only likely to increase.

On the public’s part, it is the responsibility of every individual to protect their community from outside threats – anyone carrying out any suspicious activities, or being somewhere where they shouldn’t be can often only be noticed by the people that live there. Playing our part in this fight against extremism is important to counter it in its entirety.

However, this should not mean that the public start partaking in a witchhunt, and accusing people for ulterior motives. Exercising caution and restraint with the utmost vigilance is just as important as being careful.