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The Rediff Interview/M Kumawat, Special Secretary (internal security)

'Terror was there during Ram Rajya also'

September 22, 2008

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In the first two parts of his interview with Editor (National Affairs) Sheela Bhatt, Special Secretary (internal security) in the Union home ministry, Mahendra Kumawat, spoke about the unsung success of the intelligence agencies in busting 400 terror modules across the country and also that Hindu groups were not involved in the bomb blasts.

In this, the concluding part of his interview, Kumawat expands on the distrust over police claims of cracking a terror case, and his belief that terrorism is here to say. After all, it was there in prehistoric times too!

How well-equipped are you to detect cyber crimes?

As the CID chief of Andhra Pradesh we were one of the first states to establish a cyber crime police station after Karnataka, which is India-class if not world-class.

Why have the five e-mails from IM not yet been cracked?

See, an e-mail can be sent from any part of the world. There are some problems. Wi-Fi is insecure. A person can take his laptop, go to a Wi-Fi area, use the net and send the mail. A man can go to the airport or anywhere where Wi- Fi facility is available. It is very difficult to find out from the e-mail address that appears with the e-mail. In Ahmedabad [Images] the e-mail was sent from an American's address who was not responsible for it. Wi-Fi facilities are being used by criminals.

Many Muslims don't trust the police investigations because they think a lot of the investigations are fake. A large number of secular people including many Muslims don't believe your findings. What's your comment?

Public perception is one thing and factual position is another. Any case that we investigate is not done for our sake. Any case that we are investigating is presented in the court. We have open trials in these cases. Anybody can sit and listen to the trial proceedings also. People can obtain the documents of the case also. These are public documents. Nothing is done in a hush-hush manner. Courts are scrutinising evidence that we have collected. Defence advocates and accused have all the right to cross-examine. So, to say that investigations are fake is not correct. Then, why did the Mumbai bomb blasts case take 13 years of trial?

These are only perceptions but the reality is otherwise. It is unfortunate if some Muslim experts and some other people don't believe our investigations.

For us (the Indian police) Muslims are our brothers, a part of our country and citizens of our country. We all have to live like brothers and sisters. Unless we all believe in this country as our motherland there can never be peace. I wish and I really want and we will strive to see that we live like brothers and sisters without grievances or perceived grievances.

We should all be on board to take our country forward. Secularism is a part of our police training. It is a thread that should run through everything including police investigations. Ultimately we should convince the courts and the people of our country.

Intelligence-gathering is your problem area. Can you talk candidly on the issue?

Nowhere in the world do the intelligence agencies succeed all the time. Otherwise they will not lose a president of America, even in Israel they lost a prime minister. Even in France [Images] there was a security lapse. You name a country, you will find such lapses. After all, only humans manage it. They do have shortcomings and they do fail many times.

What is the picture you are getting at the Centre from all states about the Indian Mujahideen [Images]? How deadly and how committed are they?

The very fact that they have carried out the blasts shows that they are hell-bent on creating problems. As a nation we are taking them very seriously. This outfit has to be fully exposed. We hope the Indian intelligence agencies will be able to deal with it.

Don't you think there is the politics of terrorism in the country? There is the ruling party's version and the Opposition party's allegations, and the police becomes part of it somewhere.

I can talk only about security preparedness. I am not talking about politics.

What kind of security budget you have?

The ministry of home affairs budget for security-related matters is Rs 30,000 crore. We have increased it substantially. Four years back it was only Rs 19,000 crore.  If you take the 28 states, seven Union territories budgets also for security, then the budget would be around Rs 50,000 crore.

Sir, you have the money and as you say you have the commitment; then where are you failing?

We need more money, in fact. The money that we spend on security is not adequate. Some states are trying to save money on this score. There are two lakh vacancies in the country. The honourable prime minister has said on record in the last chief ministers' conference to please fill up these vacancies. This strength was sanctioned in the early '90s and our population has increased manifold since then.

We need to double our budget.  That states have two lakh vacancies speaks volumes about the security issue. This is one of the reasons the intelligence department is not having enough manpower to cover terrorist organisations. We are requesting states to fill up vacancies and provide them with good equipment which the Centre is giving to the states. Every year Rs 1000 crore is given to Indian states to improve their infrastructure for better policing. We are giving them new gadgets, equipment and intelligence inputs, also.

When you get the information that bomb blasts have occurred somewhere in India, what is your first reaction?

We feel sad that we have failed. That we admit. Wish our agency knew by being more alert and should have busted that module.

Do you need a federal agency to deal with terrorism?

The federal agency should have jurisdiction all over the country. To deal with offences of this nature which have national and international linkages, that small states or a small police force will not be able to. Say Manipur or Sikkim's police force may not have that wherewithal. We need an outfit which has jurisdiction all over the country, which can investigate outside the country also, which should have resources matching the problem, which has got good database of these criminals and which has got good training and motivated sincere people who can work on a long-term basis. They should take it as a mission in life to deal with the issue of terrorism.

You have IB with you.

IB is for collection of intelligence. They don't have the power to arrest.

Under which law should the federal agency be formed?

It can be under a new law or can be under existing laws.

Do you miss POTA?

I will not say (we miss) POTA or any law, whenever some difficulty was experienced the government had an open mind to give more powers to investigating agencies. POTA or no POTA, you know even when POTA was there huge terrorism incidents were there. The law itself won't prevent terrorism. Cumulative effect of all efforts on all fronts will deter them and prevent (terror attacks). If you do not detect cases what will the law do?

Do you think clashes between communal elements and tensions among communities are creating more and more internal insecurity?

Let me apprise you that communal clashes have decreased over the years. Just care to read the history of Aligarh, of Hyderabad in the '70s, what kind of clashes took place. That is not the case today. Communal clashes have come down considerably. People have become more secular.

There may be some fringe element like SIMI [Images] and others but by and large people want peace and want to live in harmony with other communities. There is a sharp decline in communal clashes in the country. There are some aberrations. Wherever they occur it is unfortunate. In Kandhamal the tension is on but it is not of the intensity of the late '70s and early '80s. That time in one single day 100s of people were killed.

Then why this feeling of internal insecurity?

First we should know that what kind of atmosphere we are living in. All around India you know what is happening, we are living in a globalised world. The internal security situation is not as alarming as you are projecting. Many more people now know what we are experiencing than they used to know in the past.

There are problems, that's why we are here and there is a need for such interviews also.

In every period of history problems have been there and much worse. I can speak for hours about what we faced in 1947. We have gone through hell. In the '80s the communal problem was worse.

When will these serial bomb blasts end?

This question is very difficult to answer. It is very difficult to say that it will be totally eliminated. Unless all the people live in harmony it is not possible to say that it will stop. It will be a falsehood to say that terrorism will completely stop.

Terror was there during Ram Rajya also. That is why Sita was taken away by Ravana.


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