BENGALURU: Home Minister Basavaraja Bommai on Tuesday said that following high threat perception to Bengaluru, the government has decided to set up an exclusive Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for the city. However, the structure of the squad and its specific functions are yet to be decided.
After holding a review meeting with senior police officers of Bengaluru city on Tuesday, the minister made the announcement. It is said that the state government has taken the decision following information that Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, the banned terror outfit, had spread its tentacles in Karnataka.
But officers, who have earlier worked in the ATS, opined that no purpose would be served by just establishing an agency and neglecting it later. “There are multiple agencies operating and none of them are doing an effective job. While the state intelligence wing has an ATS already, the Internal Security Division has Centre for Counter-Terrorism. Besides, there are anti-terrorism cells operating in various cities including Bengaluru, without a proper structure. We have too many agencies to tackle terrorism but still we are highly dependent on intelligence shared by central agencies,” an official said.
‘If ATS is limited to B’luru, it could delay executing ops’
“The biggest failure on our part is that we have not built a strong institution that could effectively tackle terrorism. There is the elite ‘Garuda Force’ in the ISD but it is a combat force. But, it is a force which has efficiency in intelligence and counter-intelligence operations which is the need of the hour,” the official said. Another senior IPS officer, who has served as Benglauru City Police Commissioner, said an ATS for the city, and one for the entire state, on the lines of Maharashtra, could yield better results.
“If the ATS is limited to Benglauru alone and even if it has information of terror activities in places out of their jurisdiction, there could be delay in executing operations. Considering the past terrorist activities in Bengaluru, most of the planning and conspiracy took place in neighbouring districts like Tumakuru and Ramanagar. But, the local police had no information. This is where an ATS, which has a strong network statewide, can play a crucial role,” the officer said.
It is also said most of the police staff lack interest to work in units like ATS. “The reason is obvious. Practically speaking, they will get money if they deal with other cases. Once they are given tasks like dealing with terrorism, they will lose interest in their job as there is no ‘extra money’.
To keep them going, they should be given some other responsibilities also so that they will work,” an officer, who was in Bengaluru Central Crime Branch (CCB), to which ATS was attached earlier, said. An official in the intelligence wing said, “Intelligence does not come on its own. It requires logistics and funds to maintain informants. First, the government should give adequate staff, then adequate resources if the really want to build a strong anti-terrorism unit.”