Written By Mr. Vikas Chauhan
For an efficient & effective homeland security strategy, all the stake holders have to be addressed & gaps filled across the matrix. Boosting capabilities partially in the security chain will still make the country vulnerable to terror attacks time & again.
The stakeholders in the security chain are:
In the first post, the role of Intelligence community was discussed, this post focuses on the role of Law Enforcement Agencies
Law Enforcement Agencies
Law enforcement agencies such as State police, CISF etc. play the next most critical part in defending the people & properties against terror, be it external or home grown. There are few examples of such success stories. For instance, in late 80s & early 90s terrorism was at its peak in Punjab. But the Punjab Police was able to eliminate it completely by the mid 90s. Reasons attributed to this success were: Strong Political will, unflinching political support to Law enforcement agencies & firm leadership, both Political as well as Police.
The same can be said of Andhra Pradesh which has been quite successful in controlling the nexal terror in most of its naxal infested areas. Whereas some states have failed time & again to protect its people from naxal attacks.
Among other things, there are two critical reasons which determine the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies in dealing with terror & internal security.
1. Resources, Infrastructure & Trainings
Most of the Indian law enforcement agencies are short on personnel. For Instance, India has shortfall of over half million police personnel. As against the global average of minimum 300 police personnel per 100000 population (U.N mandates a minimum of 220 per 100000), India has just 130 per 100000. Bulk of the policing effort is used for law & order duties followed by VIP protection, thus leaving far too little for anti-terror measures such as beat level local intelligence, community out-reach programs etc. Govt of India plans to hire 80000 police personnel every year, which means, it will still take another 5 to 6 years minimum to cover the shortfall.
Consider this. Until a year ago, in Dantewada (Chhattisgarh) which is the hot bed of left wing insurgency, there was only one police station in Antagarh with the sanctioned strength of only 11 cops. However, at any given time, only six-seven policemen used to be present there. Thanks to some pro-active thinking, now the strength has been increased to 30 policemen. Additionally, BSF has been deployed to ensure peace & mitigate naxal threats.
Poor state of infrastructure available to law enforcement agencies is well documented. The kind of weapons, technologies & gears that are used by our agencies are poor quality, out-dated & much inferior to the ones used by terrorists.
Training is one area which needs drastic improvement. While there are training institutions for Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, there is little or no training for constables & sub-inspectors. Bihar has no training school at all. To overcome this, 13th Finance Commission has provided Rs 2,200 crore for building up better infrastructure for police training institutions in various states. Army is also opening a special training institute in Chattisgarh to train & better prepare police & para-millitary forces to engage & deal with naxals effectively.
2. Un-biased Strong Political Will
Some political parties use terror as a platform to garner sympathy from some communities for vote bank benefits. Batla house encounter in Sept 2008 is one of many such examples, where few political parties used it to suit their political ambitions. Weak political leadership makes the job of law enforcement agencies equally challenging.
Different agencies, often given conflicting investigation reports. Samjhauta Express blast in 2007 & Malegaon blasts in 2008 are two such examples Terror crimes have become increasingly complex. Masterminds, foot soldiers & logistical support providers are spread across the states often operating in isolated cells. Many a times, investigations reach dead ends, as do leads. Lack of coordination with various agencies also hamper or delay the investigations.
For swift, thorough & professional investigations, National Investigation Agency (NIA) was set up after Mumbai 26/11 attacks. Being a central agency its mandate was to carry out the terror investigations on pan India basis, irrespective of location of the attack. But unlike Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of United States, NIA cannot do pre-emptive investigations & comes into scene only when the terror attack has taken place. Owing to the lack of regional presence, NIA has to rely on state police & IB (Intelligence Bureau) for local access & intelligence. Instead of empowering NIA, Multi Agency Centre (MAC) was set up as intelligence processing hub. Though the MAC has succeeded to some extent in breaking inter-agency firewalls with its setup replicated at the state level, but NIA has remained a halfway house. The earlier post on role of intelligence agencies looks at this issue in further details.
Rising above petty politics the governments at the state & center need to give free hand (with necessary checks & balances) to investigative agencies in tacking terror & internal security issues. There should be no political interference. Investigations should be coordinated to catch real culprits & masterminds without harassing innocent people. Investigative & law enforcement agencies should be allowed to do their job in professional & unbiased manner.
Much awaited policing reforms for which work is underway will help reduce political interference & shoddy policing. Infact, Delhi Police bill incorporates much discussed police reforms such as independence to the police, fixed tenure, better system of recruitment, training and transfers, accountability, community policing etc. The draft resolution has gone to Law Ministry & once adopted, it will become model Police bill for the rest of the country.
In the subsequent posts, the role of Corporate establishments & Civil society will be discussed.
This blog describes issues which are in public domain as reported extensively by leading media such as Times of India, Hindustan Times, DNA etc. for which due credit is acknowledged. The intention is not to vouch or cast aspersions on individuals or agencies but to present before readers issues, without any bias or prejudice, which are being or have been discussed at various public platforms. Readers are advised to form their own opinions.