NEW DELHI: The iconic North Block, which houses the Ministry of Home Affairs, is shrinking to accommodate Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s “shake up administration” plan of moving out internal security and placing it directly under the Prime Minister’s Office situated across the road on Raisina Hills.
A senior official, aware of the plan, said it would be a lean and highly efficient internal security wing to handle growing terror threats.
“The file hasn’t moved yet, but the planning is on and I think it would be executed soon. It may take some time due to administrative procedures. The restructuring will help in tackling inter-connected tasks related to counter-terror and intelligence gathering. The Intelligence Bureau, NATGRID and National Investigation Agency will directly report to the PMO, sidestepping bureaucratic obtuseness,” said the official, requesting anonymity.
The official, however, admitted that the option of handing over the administrative work to the Minister of State (MoS) and keeping the internal security with the Cabinet Minister is being discussed. Security analyst Ajay Sahni argued that structure did not matter and Internal Security division must be given to the Home Minister, who will in turn report to the Prime Minister.
“In the UPA’s tenure, the focus was too much on administrative work, and Home Ministers wanted to see every file. It was a problem of leadership and not the structure.
“The new government must focus on the steps to be taken to strengthen the mechanism rather than structure. Whether the Internal Security Ministry will be housed in North or South Block is secondary,” Sahni added.
As per the existing official architecture of the Home Ministry, 20 divisions directly report to the Home Secretary and in turn to the Union Home Minister -- the second most important portfolio in the Central Government. Of these, Internal Security Wing - I & II is handled by the Special Secretary (IS), a position vacant for several months, officials said.
Internal Security Division-I deals with matters related to insurgency, terrorism, naxalism, activities of inimical foreign agencies, terrorist financing, rehabilitation, immigration matters and security clearances for foreigners working in India.
It is also responsible for monitoring ISI activities and its links with various terrorist organisations in the country.
Internal Security-II is responsible for coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and matters related to explosives and narcotics.
The residuary Home Ministry would be responsible for administrative work, including Gallantry and Padma awards, appointment of Governors, creation of new states, over-seeing the crime situation in states, imposition of President’s Rule, disaster management division, freedom fighters’ rehabilitation, policy matters related to Jammu and Kashmir and central armed forces and cadre management of IPS officers.
D C Pathak, former Director of Intelligence Bureau, said the real task of the independent Internal Security Ministry would be to synchronise functions of security and intelligence agencies working in isolation.
“Intelligence and action plan must be handled at one table. We cannot afford lack of coordination among agencies tasked to secure the country.
“It is high time a decision for bifurcation is taken by the new government,” Pathak added.
Citing Home Secretary Anil Goswami’s meeting with Modi earlier this week, a source said the new government is also looking to overhaul the coastal security apparatus and existing intelligence collection and dissemination mechanism.
“Besides a new Internal Security Ministry, reforms ranging from government approach in tackling insurgency and criminal justice system are also being worked out.
“The Home Ministry’s presentation to Modi has been prepared, keeping radical restructuring plans as priority,” he added.