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Natgrid will have info on every Indian

November 11, 2010 17:12 IST
Vicy Nanjappa reports on the government's plans to launch a National Intelligence Grid next May.

India has decided to set up a NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid) to ensure better exchange of information between security agencies across the country.

The lack of inter-state coordination and information-sharing between police officers, security experts point out, is one reason why terror-related investigations in India are often botched up.

They point out the case of a Pune blasts suspect who was picked up in Mangalore and then taken to Mumbai. The police in both states (Karnataka and Maharashtra) had no clue as to what the other was doing and did not share information with each other before the man was arrested.

The Union home ministry realises that home-grown terrorism is the biggest threat the country confronts today. There have been instances where individuals have been picked up in one particular state and it has taken almost a month before the police force in that state has obtained information about the detainee from his home state, resulting in investigation delays.

NATGRID, which is proposed to be launched next May, will ensure that police officers feed information about individuals into a database. Officers from other states can log in and access this information.

Police officers say they often encounter non-cooperation when they try to seek information from another state.

NATGRID, incidentally, will compile information about every citizen in the country, not criminals alone.

It will have information about the citizen's bank accounts, her/his fingerprints, property s/he owns etc.

R Srikumar, a member of the Central Bureau of Investigation team that investigated the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, believes the more tools investigation agencies have, the better it is for them.

"There is an absolute need to share as much information with like-minded people," says Srikumar. "However, when it comes to dealing with terrorism, I would say it is enough to share information and gather the same with local police officers. We have to collect and prepare a database from the international community."

"Terrorists come into the country from outside too," he added, "and we need to have a database on them. Hence, at the central level information needs to be collected internationally and the same needs to be fed (into NATGRID)."

Although NATGRID is a copy of the US model of compiling intelligence, Intelligence Bureau sources point out that NATGRID cannot substitute the existing process of accumulating intelligence.

The intelligence agencies will still rely on manual intelligence and basic police interrogation, they say.

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Vicky Nanjappa