A Slew of Steps to Strengthen Security, A Few Lapses Too
By Yatish Yadav | Published: 31st December 2013 07:36 AM |
In 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs dealt with the challenges of hinterland terrorism, left-wing extremism, Northeast insurgency and the rise in infiltration attempts from across the borders.
After facing nationwide outrage over the December 16 bus gangrape here, the MHA on February 1, 2013 executed an ordinance amending the existing criminal laws ensuring the death penalty in the rarest of rare rape cases that cause death or persistent vegetative state. The ordinance also incorporated suggestions from the report of the Justice (Retd) J S Verma Committee, which was constituted to suggest measures for checking crimes against women such as including acid attacks, trafficking, sexual harassment at work and stalking.
On March 18, 2013 the Cabinet cleared the new anti-rape law, incorporating suggestions of parties on age of consent, stalking and voyeurism.
Afzal Hanged, 4 Major Blasts
A week after clearing the landmark bill, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on February 9, 2013 announced the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. This was the second high-profile execution after 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was executed in November 2012. Guru, 43, a medical college dropout and resident of Tarzoo village of Sopore town in north Kashmir, was on the death row for over 10 years after conviction for his role in the audacious attack. A surrendered JKLF militant, Guru was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail. However, the jubilant mood in North Block was short-lived as twin terror blasts rocked Hyderabad on February 21 killing 17 people and injuring 119 others.
The terror strikes carried out by the Indian Mujahideen at Dilsukh Nagar also exposed loopholes in counter-terror apparatus and lack of coordination between state and central agencies, compelling the ministry to raise intelligence fusion centres for dissemination of actionable intelligence to law enforcement agencies. These centres at the district level were also expedited to fill the immediate intelligence gap as the National Counter Terrorism Centre was facing stiff Opposition from states.
Terrorist activities in the hinterland continued to remain a threat. On April 17, 2013 around 3 pm a blast near the BJP state office in Bangalore injured 17 people. Two months later, on July 7 serial explosions ripped through the Mahabodi temple in Bodh Gaya injuring five people. A total 13 IEDs were planted on temple premise, out of which 10 exploded and three were live ones recovered later. Terrorists struck again, on October 27, targeting BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s ‘hunkar’ rally in Patna, Bihar. Eight serial blasts killed seven people and around 100 others injured.
On the left-wing extremism front, 158 civilians and 109 security personnel were killed. As many as 149 ultras were neutralised.
In Jammu & Kashmir, 20 civilians and 61 security personnel were killed while 98 Pak-trained terrorists were neutralised.
In five northeastern states, 81 civilians and 21 security personnel were killed, while 135 terrorists were neutralised.
In a joint operation, a team of the Intelligence Bureau and the NIA nabbed Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal from Pokhra, Nepal on August 30. Another high-ranking IM operative, Assadullah Akhtar alias Tabrez alias Haddi, was also arrested.
The MHA managed to extradite high-profile terrorists such as Abu Jundal and Abdul Karim Tunda and IM suspect Mohamed Fasih from UAE. The ministry amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 which enlarged the ambit of the “terrorist act” by incorporating threats to the economic security.