Time to Gear Up to Face Mounting Terror Challenge - The New Indian Express

Time to Gear Up to Face Mounting Terror Challenge

Published: 01st December 2013 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 21st January 2014 04:00 PM

It would not be long before the Americans leave Afghanistan and the lawless frontier returns to its escalated state of chaos. With Talibani terror coupled with the Pakistani brand of terrorism uniting against India, this country would have to gear up fast to the reality of India being at the centre of heightened terror activity.

We should have by now learnt our lesson that the Americans have no qualms about looking the other way when countries other than their own are targeted by terror. So self-help has to be our creed.

On the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, it came out starkly that India is poorly equipped to face similar attacks, and that lessons have not been learnt.

While Shivraj Patil, who was Union home minister at the time of 26/11 was a veritable disaster, his successor P Chidambaram was articulate and high profile, but only a wee bit better when it came to dealing with a system that was slothful and non-performing. The present home minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, inspires no hope either.

The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) modelled on the lines of its successful counterpart in the US has proved a non-starter because of a woeful absence of give and take between the Centre and states. Neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor Chidambaram had the good sense to address the apprehensions of several states that the Centre was attempting to usurp their powers through a systematic ruse. Likewise, the states needed to be more cooperative and non-obstructionist in regard to a terror threat that requires nationwide preparedness.

Significantly, a recently-released book by British journalist Adrian Levy on the 26/11 terror strikes of 2008 has claimed that the CIA sent as many as 26 terror alerts in the preceding two years to the Indian government, many of which were sourced from Indian intelligence. Six of these were of sea port infiltration which is exactly how the Mumbai terrorists came.

With the NCTC not in place, there is still no coordinating mechanism to take advantage of terror alerts through timely action. The blasts in Hyderabad early this year exposed the chinks in our armour yet again. They brought home the reality that intelligence alerts have meaning only if there is proper coordination between the Centre and states and they are acted upon swiftly.

The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems Project, which was supposed to link up all police stations across the country two years ago, has got bogged down in design and software issues. There is no denying that this would have been a significant reform but it is lost in red tape.

In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks there was to be better coordination between the anti-terror authorities and the banking system for monitoring funding of terrorist operations but even this has not been achieved.

So utterly lacking in seriousness has been the Indian establishment’s response to 26/11 that the Ram Pradhan Committee which was appointed by the Centre to go into administrative lapses that led to terror strikes received no cooperation from the country’s main intelligence agencies. The committee’s observation that it suspected an Indian mole had assisted in the attacks was not acted upon.

All in all, one shudders to think what would happen if there is another 26/11 type attack mounted on Indian targets by terrorists.

The believed mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks, Hafiz Saeed, has not even been charged by the Pakistanis in what is a sham trial of perpetrators. Terror training camps are operating with impunity and the conspirators are presumably hard at work.

k.kamlendra@gmail.com

Kanwar is a senior journalist

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