Author: Jyoti Meena
As terrorist violence revisited Hyderabad, it confirms the cyclicity of the heinousness of terrorism monthly, semi-annually or at the best annually. In each cycle there is some headlines like- condemnation of attack by the government, compensation to the victims, protest by the opposition parties, anguish, sadness and recrimination among people and failure attempts of policing. And till the next cycle everything gets back to normal. From the past records, it has been found that this area had been attacked by terrorists twice in 2002 and 2007 too. The ministry had some intelligence alert warning of a possible attack in Hyderabad, the police should be more vigilant than it normally have been. But this fact has been hidden under the statement that it was only a general warning, not actionable. On the other hand, BJP called for a bandh in AP to protest the event, Sushma Swaraj is blaming Owaisi’s speeches. The thing that comes out is the religion of terrorism, Hindu or Muslim, natives or immigrants. And under this blame and trial(offence and defence) game, the root of failure become disguised, and the whole issue is politicized. The root of the failure is that responsibility is scattered, given that law and order is a state subject and there is no unified anti-terror body like proposed NCTC(National Counter Terrorism Centre).
Terrorism is a serious threat to Indian sovereignty, integrity and national security. In India, there are many pathways to this vulnerability, it may be communal atrocities among people or it may be the porous border with the potential threats (Pakistan, Bangladesh) or the open border with our allies used as proxy by the enemies(Nepal), or the long sea coast line(as in case of 26/11) or it may be the sleeper cells that work as volcanoes and hard to predict.
The NCTC was planned as a Central umbrella agency tasked with the job of preventing, responding to and investigating a terror attack, but it stumbled on the issues of federalism. The policing subject comes under the ambit of state, but it is the centre’s responsibility to come in action as a coordinator and protecting states from any external attack. But in the era of coalition government there is rising trust deficit among center and states(opposition ruled parties), which hinders any progress. States don’t want to lose their exclusive power of policing, and they are inefficient in managing these affairs due to lack of administrative and investigation machinery and proper guidance resulting in diminishing public confidence. The most recent instance of privileged behavior of states is that several states questioned NCTC’s wide powers to search, seize and arrest without necessarily involving the state DGPs, as well as its exemption from parliamentary scrutiny. Similarly NIA(National Investigation agency),established after 26/11 to investigate the terrorism matters is in direct conflict with states which are demanding that investigation should be carried out by police. Further this agency is understaffed making it nearly impossible to fight against these conflicts. One more body, NATGRID(national intelligence grid) was formed to maintain biometric data, and to share other information related to immigration, bank and other important data for tracking terrorists. But again the things get stuck at the clash of jurisdictions and the coordination among these security bodies.
Major faults lies at the organization level where major capacity building is required. Home ministry deals with so many matters at a time that it is hard to provide sufficient resources to the internal issues, and the core function of internal security become hidden in other routine works. Many committee recommends over it- 26/11 committee recommended to place NSG at the vulnerable cities, a separate and independent ministry for internal security under some efficient bureaucratic network or in hands of Indian army in order to keep it alienated from the political pressures. But all these recommendations are simply on paper and never reach to the ground. Further Defense experts recommended formation of independent national defense commission to suggest measures for national security and discussions with the stakeholders, government, police and public. IB is said to be 70% officers doing political intelligence of opposition parties, rest are busy with Kashmir and Maoists. IB sends warning to states which is often neglected by the states due to their indifferent attitude. NCTC is based on the idea of USA, but there it is merely a staff agency for coordination purpose. In India, this body as mentioned will takes a larger ambit making it an executive agency with heavy powers which are seen by states as interference. It is the duty of centre to convince states, in the course of this action, the NCTC plan has been modified in the light of those concerns, and now it is the states’ turn to respond. Both the Centre and the states should know, after Hyderabad’s grim experience that we cannot be indifferent and independent in the approach. Coordination among different agencies is required at ground level, and overlapping need to be eliminated or managed properly.
Further our military is not equipped with proper training and equipment. A proper training ground should be provided to them, and they must be made accountable to their deeds in order to develop public trust in them so that citizens may also play an important role of being witnesses. Security is to be upgraded, deploying CCTV cameras, vigilant police force, technical advancements and strengthening of the network, sharing of information is required. Military is to be empowered with the modernized weapons.
Then comes the internal insurgency and communal riots. India is a land of mixed races, numerous religions, and everyone believes in superiority of their own. Terrorists exploit these weak corners, which reflect the lack of governance and unity. The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism seeks to crush down the enemy’s ideology by building the capacity of partner nations to mitigate the problems that extremists exploit to gain support for their causes. And there is need of the people with secularist views in order to stay indifferent from these political gambling
We must implement the policy of zero intolerance for terrorism.
The need of hour is the co-operation among centre and states at political and administrative level, strengthening the laws and existing investigating agencies, setting of NCTC, making use of technological advancement for investigation, setting of fast track courts.