Fight Against Terror : Untrained force can’t fight motivated jihadisAug 30, 2007
Hyderabad (Capital-Andhra Pradesh) blast killed more than 30 persons and injured many. It is a twin blasts on 25 Aug, 2007.
On August 12, six persons including two Pakistanis were picked up by cops at Mandavi port in Gujarat’s Kutch district. The Pakistani duo, on sustained interrogation, confessed that Rs 24 lakh had been sent to terror operatives in Hyderabad. It’s still not known whether any of this money went into the funding of last week’s twin blasts in Hyderabad, but it’s pretty much doubtful the agencies on the job in the city would have been able to refine information into actionable intelligence to prevent the carnage even if the money was, indeed, meant for the killers.
As terrorists strike at will across the country, lack of good intelligence seems to be a major chink in India’s antiterror armour. Though some of our intelligence operatives have been rated on a par with the best in the business and have even earned the admiration of their international peers, overall, the country’s intelligence set-up is simply inadequate for the challenge. Intelligence-gathering, a specialised skill, has never been recognised as such in India. With the exception of AP, there is no branch devoted to training ground-level cops who gather grassroots data in intelligence techniques.
Grassroots sleuths lack both skill and motivation to gather inputs New Delhi:
The skill-deficit in antiterror intelligence operations is compounded by lack of motivation. The job — that requires painstaking slog in anonymity and lacks the ‘perks’ that cops posted with a ‘lucrative’ police station enjoy — is considered ‘punishment work’ by cops. State-level special branches that gather intelligence are, therefore, staffed with dissatisfied workers — often the dregs of the force. For a country that’s been bled by terrorist attacks for the last one decade or more, the lack of care over the staffing of intelligence personnel tells an eloquent story of how serious really we are in countering the menace.
On top of that, the number of those put on intelligence work is estimated at only 1% to 1.5% of the total police force.
Now, combine this badly overstretched intelligence force with their lack of training and motivation, and the jigsaw begins to fall in place. You can begin to tell why there are intelligence failures, and worse, why the scourge of terrorism refuses to go away.
The information that beat constable collects can be the singlemost crucial input if developed into real intelligence. But, besides being weighed down by routine responsibilities, he is not even sensitised for the crucial job. Equipping the beat constable with requisite training, or appointing a force exclusively for intelligence functions, can actually address this major gap.
It’s said the lack of sensitisation extends right up to the top. A senior retired IB functionary told TOI that in his long career, he was mostly asked by authorities about issues having a bearing on their political fortunes. “The situation did not change even when terror emerged as the serious-most security threat.”
Besides the lack of orientation, turf battles and ego conflicts, lack of coordination between the central agencies and the state forces acts as a huge handicap in the battle against terror. According to Special Branch Rules that govern the intelligence machinery, the heads of special cells of states are to be appointed in consultation with the Director of IB (DIB). This is to ensure a better coordination among forces. But with many states ruled by regional or opposition parties, IB is looked upon as a hostile agency and the special branch chief is rarely appointed in consultation with the Centre. Special branch chiefs are often state appointees, owing the post to their proximity to the regime of the day.
Lack of synergy is evident even at the top-most level despite the two mechanisms — the Joint Task Force on Intelligence and the Multi-Agency Centre that were set up under the National Security Doctrine of 2001. Top sources concede that agencies, including customs, military intelligence, revenue intelligence, have often been found to be more interested in cornering the credit than coordinating with their counterparts.
Even the IB — designated to be the nodal domestic intelligence agency — is bogged down with problems. With a total manpower of around 20,000, IB is awfully short of officers. Against 250 sanctioned posts of IPS officers, it has not more than 100 at present.
The lack of motivation to join IB is blamed on favouritism within the set-up with upright officers being given short shrift while promoting a select few. A popular instance cited by insiders is a recent case when an award-winning top sleuth was eased out as director by someone who was due to retire in just four months. The replacement, who had no real field postings and always remained in Delhi got two years’ extension when his retirement came up and an important portfolio after he retired.
The story of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the country’s external intelligence agency, is no different. A few years ago, a rank outsider was made to head the force although he had only three months to retire. Rules were bent to accommodate him and he had an extended two-year tenure.
So, how do we fight the battle against terror? It’s not possible to raise the strength of the intelligence force overnight as it takes at least 3-4 years to raise a force of 200 officers with proper training and the capability for intelligence gathering. The immediate concern would, therefore, be manmanagement, which involves recruitment of the right manpower. A motivated manpower that works round the clock and is not bogged down by ego clashes is the need of the hour. This is possible only if we have the will power at the highest level. The job is, in fact, cut out for the PM and his team.
PATIL (Home Minister) FORMULA:
The Centre admits that special branches of the state police forces need to be strengthened in the fight against terrorism. In its status paper on the internal security situation presented before Parliament by home minister Shivraj Patil, government has outlined the following measures that need to be taken: Increasing the strength of special branches of the state police by filling up vacancies and allocating additional manpower. Posting competent officers in the special branches. A mandatory tenure, preferably of five years, in the special branches for police personnel and their promotion being linked to this requirement. A system of incentives and disincentives for personnel working in special branches. A dedicated staff for intelligence work right up to the police station level. Revising the special branch manual in order to activate, among other things, the beat constable system. All states to earmark up to 5% of their annual allocation for modernising the state police force.