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Botched IB terror alert is a LOUD call for NCTC

Last updated on: May 11, 2012 11:36 IST

Botched IB terror alert is a LOUD call for NCTC

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The botched terror alert by the Intelligence Bureau has once again put the spotlight on the need for a National Counter Terrorism Centre, which could act as a pool of information. Vicky Nanjappa reports

An alert issued by the Intelligence Bureau speaking about an attack on oil refineries in Maharashtra and Gujarat, which sent shivers up the spines of many, has now left the agency embarrassed.

The IB alert stated that five operatives of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had entered the country through the sea route and were planning to carry out an operation on the lines of the November 26, 2008 strikes in Mumbai. Photographs of these persons were put up along with the alert and an advisory was sent to the Maharashtra police.

However, the Pakistan media reported a couple of days later that three of the men that India claimed were terrorists were mobile retail operators who were very much in Pakistan.

Their whereabouts came to light when the trio approached the Lahore police seeking protection after the alert was issued. They even claimed that they had never set out of Lahore.

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Image: The three suspected LeT terrorists


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Botched IB terror alert is a LOUD call for NCTC

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Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that the alert was not a hoax and that these refineries have been under LeT's radar. In fact, it has also been said in very clear terms by David Headley that the terror outfit was looking to target oil refineries in these areas.

On an average there are nearly 20 alerts issued everyday. Each one of them is passed on to the jurisdictional police station for action. It is not necessary that all of them are actionable in nature, IB sources told rediff.com, however adding that at times it is necessary to issue such an alert to keep the police on their toes.

The IB says that in this case the photographs of the persons were released on the basis of credible information.

Just because the Pakistan media claims it to be a hoax that does not mean that there is something wrong in what we have issued, the IB sources say.

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Botched IB terror alert is a LOUD call for NCTC

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Senior police officials point out that an alert cannot be equated to a conviction.

If our agencies find any suspicious behaviour or activity from across the border then we are very much right in issuing such an alert, they say, adding that it is for the police to look into the matter and then decide on whether the same is actionable or not.

This incident would once again raise the subject pertaining to the National Counter Terrorism Centre and the need for a centralised agency.

Currently, there is too much confusion and alerts end up in bits and pieces at police stations. More often than not the police are unsure whether to act upon an alert or not.

India desperately needs a centralised institution, which acts as a pool of information. This data ought to be studied and analysed by a team of experts who would also decide whether the same is actionable or not before sending out the alert to the respective police stations who will need to act upon the same.

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