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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Needed Local Intelligence Network, Not Federal Crime Bureau

By Vinod Vedi - Syndicate Features

The Jaipur bomb blasts have set up an unseemly controversy between the State Government of Rajasthan and the Centre over the collection and dissemination of intelligence about likely terrorist attacks. It needs to be made amply clear to both that it is their respective responsibilities –the State Government within its borders and the Central Government under the Constitution ambit to ensure security of the nation’s territorial integrity. More and more territorial integrity is being sought to be suborned from within through sleeper cells and long-range suicide missions. Therefore, each must, at least, fulfil its own responsibilities. Both have been found wanting this past month to the great delight of the terrorists and their masterminds across the borders.

Every State Government has its intelligence wing, which, given the ambiance of globalised terrorism, should be awake to the possibility that a terrorist attack could occur within its borders to target places of worship, centres of tourism, national symbols and concentrations of a particular community in the hope that communal backlash could occur. Only the local cop on the beat, if he is trained correctly, will be able to collect information about suspicious activity within his areas of operation. It is the responsibility of the State CID to be aware of the dangers that could visit the above mentioned sensitive areas as well as the political leadership. To expect to be told by some other external agency about the threat that could occur within its jurisdiction is nothing but dereliction of duty.

It is because of dereliction of duty and corruption of a high order (as in the case of Mumbai Customs officials allowing the passage of the explosives that were used in the serial blasts in that city) that information/intelligence is suppressed at the very grassroots level. It is the responsibility the local CID to monitor suspicious activity be it in the mohallas, the sensitive/vulnerable areas, or VVIPs' haunts. How it executes that responsibility is fast becoming a sophisticated craft replete with closed circuit television (CCTV), surveillance cameras and computer wizardry.

It is amazing how easy it is to transport explosives from one part of the country to another. In the early phase of terrorism much of the explosives used in terrorist attacks was RDX smuggled in from Pakistan (as in the Mumbai blasts) but more and more local materials are being used by pre-deployed “sleeper cells” trained in camps across the border in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The local CID if it is made aware of these changing trends can through the use of inexpensive means like snuffer dogs be able to monitor areas; through which explosives and arms and ammunition are transported thereby pre-empting an attack even before it is planned.

There is no substitute for local policing for good intelligence gathering. It is from this grassroots level that intelligence is garnered and collated and passed upwards. It is because of the absence of this local area network that the State Governments tends to depend heavily on the Central intelligence agencies to provide accurate actionable intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks. Deployment of security personnel according to the threat perception or counter-measures is the function of the local police.

Two examples from New Delhi will indicate how dynamic threat perceptions can be. For some time the Delhi police had been allowing parking of cars of visitors to South and North Block on the slope of Raisina Hill leading up to Rashtrapati Bhavan. This is the heart of VVIP territory. A newspaper pointed out that a bomb in a car at this point could easily take out the political and military leadership whose offices are in North and South Block. The parking lot was shifted.

The other was the perception of threat to aircraft and passengers from terrorists using shoulder-fired missiles at the most vulnerable moment when the aircraft is landing or taking off in Delhi. The exact spot from where it could be done was pointed out. The Central Industrial Security Force hitherto deployed only within the airport perimeter and the arrival and departure lounges was also posed outside the aerodrome as well. This is local intelligence gathered from local situations. States cannot expect to get this kind of advice from intelligence agencies of the Central Government. Akshardham, Varanasi, Jaipur, etc. are failures of intelligence and execution of security drill at the local level.

It is not as if the Central agencies have covered themselves with glory in the past month. Pakistan has resumed cross-border terrorism by providing covering fire and logistical support to the terrorists for infiltration across the international border as well as the Line of Control. In the recent incident in the Samba sector when more than a thousand rounds of gunfire were counted and it was claimed that an infiltration attempt had been thwarted, the actual fact was that several terrorists did manage to infiltrate into India when the Pakistan Rangers kept the Indian Border Security Force pinned down with gunfire. The terrorists were able to head into inhabited areas and pick out a political leader for assassination and then very nearly succeeded in reaching a local cantonment where Army families were stationed in a repeat of the slaughter that happened at Kaluchak some years ago.

These failures show up the flaws in the deployment and management of territorial defence even when enough intelligence was available about terrorist training camps on the other side.

In this context Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s suggestion for a Federal Crime Bureau on the lines of the American Federal Bureau of Intelligence that will cater for both the State and national intelligence gathering, collation and dissemination of intelligence is too far ahead of its time. The more immediate need is to strengthen local area intelligence gathering network within every State and the Centre should make available equipment, technical know-how and expertise to set up such cells at least in areas perceived to be vulnerable to terrorist attack. The administration of such cells should, for the time being at least, remain within the domain of the State Government.

This will be both a confidence building measure in an environment fraught with suspicion and political rivalry as well as the nucleus of a nationwide network on the lines suggested by the Prime Minister wherein information and intelligence is passed rapidly both from the ground up to the national level and vice versa. This would be a “network centric” arrangement in keeping with the current jargon of “network centric warfare”

Internal security in the context of the war by proxy needs to be viewed in the same holistic paradigm as “war by other means”. The States have their role in it and the Central Government has its national responsibilities under the Constitution; both are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

- Syndicate Features -

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