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'Corruption is a bigger threat than terrorism'

Last updated on: November 27, 2012 18:00 IST

'Corruption is a bigger threat than terrorism'

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A Ganesh Nadar

'Corruption eats the vitals of our bureaucracy, our army, our government. It is a bigger threat than terrorism. The terrorists are four steps ahead of us.'

A Ganesh Nadar listens to a former Mumbai police commissioner discuss terrorism at an 26/11 event.
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

When he spoke to my senior colleague Sheela Bhatt three years ago, Dhanushkodi Sivanandan, then Mumbai's police commissioner, was hawkish on the subject of terrorism.

When Sheela asked Sivanandan, who took charge of the Mumbai police soon after the 26/11 attacks, what his top three priorities were, he had declared, "Terrorism, terrorism and terrorism."

Now retired from the Indian Police Service, at an event on Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of those horrific attacks, Sivanandan sang a different tune.

Corruption, Sivanandan, who retired as Maharashtra's director general of police, told a discussion at the Welingkar Institute in Matunga, central Mumbai, is a bigger threat than terrorism.

"Corruption eats the vitals of our bureaucracy, our army, our government," Sivanandan, a former Indian Police Service officer, said. "It is a bigger threat than terrorism. The terrorists are four steps ahead of us."

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Image: Former Mumbai police commissioner D Sivanandan, left, with prominent chartered accountant Shailesh Haribhakti, tennis star Sania Mirza-Malik, construction magnate Niranjan Hiranandani and AICTE Chairman S S Mantha at the event
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'When it comes to corruption, we are at the top of the heap'

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"Terror is not our only problem," Sivanandan, who is now a member of the National Security Council secretariat's special task force, said.

"Organised crime takes its toll as does Naxalism. But when it comes to corruption, we are at the top of the heap."

"Security," added the police officer who established a new drill in the Mumbai police force to combat terrorism after he took charge as commissioner, "is considered a waste of investment by both the government and the private sector."

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Image: Asta Johannesdottir, speaker of the Icelandic parliament, who was also present at the event
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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'Now that we have the Indian Mujahideen we don't need the Pakistani footprint anymore'

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"Now that we have the Indian Mujahideen we don't need the Pakistani footprint anymore," Sivanandan felt.

"Al Qaeda is stitching bombs inside the intestines of its cadres. Next, they will keep RDX in place of bone marrow."

"What peace are we talking about when a small vial containing a biological weapon can kill thousands?" Sivanandan asked, adding that CCTV footage is good only for post-mortems.

What India needs, Sivanandan added, is capacity building in software with analytical cameras. Intelligence agencies need to speak to each other.

"They should have wars with others and not with each other," the former police commissioner, who likely interacts with top officers in India's intelligence agencies in his current role at the NSC, said.

India's security forces, he felt, should be manned only by commandos; there is no place for old, tired or unfit people.

"Mumbai is a frequent target of the terrorists as it is the country's financial capital," Sivanandan, who served the city's police force for many years, said. "They think they can cripple the country by crippling the money capital."

"In some ways we are prepared while in others we are not," he said. "We have faced the most terrorist attacks in the world."


Image: Former Mumbai top cop D Sivanandan
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: Sivanandan , CCTV , RDX , NSC , India

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