India’s Anti-terrorism Preparedness
The level of preparedness of anti-terror agencies in India can discussed under four heads viz. Intelligence gathering, Training and operations, Investigations and Prosecution.
With respect to intelligence, RAW acts as external intelligence agency while IB collects intelligence within the country. After 26/11 attacks, NATGRID and MAC have started participating in intelligence gathering also. However, still India needs to completely streamline and integrate the information and inputs from all the government departments and non-government agencies. This would be achieved only after the NATGRID becomes operational. Government should also need to educate and train the communities, media, corporate houses etc. to aid in the task of intelligence gathering.
Training and Operations
The State governments have limited capabilities to train their police personnel to deal with terror attacks. To overcome this, the union government should help the states to improve their capacity building. Presently, for operations, IB is the coordinator with the police of different states but to carry out operations simultaneously in many states, there is no unified command in the country. There is a need for creation of a central agency to coordinate operations all over the country.
The NIA is playing a commendable role but still there is a scope for improvement. One suggestion could be setting up of one central agency to investigate all cases of terrorism, which are inter-linked and may occur in different states. This will improve the efficiency of investigations.
The government should establish special fast track courts to quickly resolve the existing terrorist cases. The justice should be time bound.
What else should be done?
Handling terrorism needs a multi-pronged strategy. The strategy should involve different stakeholders – government, political parties, civil society, security agencies, and media. Firstly, all the political parties should have national level political consensus to devise the broad contours of planned strategy against terrorism. This will be possible only with the cooperation between the centre and state governments. Secondly, the principle of law of the land must be respected. Inadequate laws must be replaced with new comprehensive laws. Thirdly, Measures should be taken to improve the intelligence gathering machinery, operational efficiency, training of security agencies, and civil administration. Fourthly, cases of terrorism should be resolved in a time bound manner. Based on the need of the hour, special laws and enforcing mechanisms should be developed but at the same time sufficient safeguards are required to avoid its misuse.