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CBI ex-chief rues lack of plan to fight terror

Suman Mozumder | November 28, 2008 19:47 IST

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The audacious attack on Mumbai has exposed not just the ill-preparedness of India's security system but a complete lack of a national plan to fight terrorism, says former Central Bureau of Investigation director Joginder Singh.

In an interview with Singh said from New Delhi [Images] that the Manmohan Singh [Images] government will now have "an even harder time" explaining its handling of internal security issues.

"Such is the laxity of our system, that 'forget about getting advance intelligence', not even one terrorist has been sentenced to the capital punishment, in our system so far.. Most often they get away, whereas the different sections, quibble about the human rights of the terrorists, as if the killed had no human rights," Singh said.

"The Congress party has only itself to blame as it has been celebrating the insane recklessness of the Union home minister and the security establishment that functions directly under the prime minister," Singh said, adding that the security of the nation was being allowed to be handled by men who are opposed to most of the tools that the agencies use for tackling terror.

"The party (Congress) was in complete agreement that there was no need for a tough anti-terror law and its leaders have been routinely speaking out against interrogation techniques that anti-terror agencies routinely use worldwide," Singh said.

Singh said there are reports that the attackers came through the sea route. "National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has been 'educating' the country about terrorists using sea routes for the past three years. Incidentally, US Admiral Timothy J Keating, while in Delhi, had suggested that India introduce some counter-measures such as Container Security Initiative to prevent terrorists' movement in those areas," he said. He implied that no such measure had been taken.

He said the Centre and leadership can be expected to lay the blame on the lack of "actionable intelligence" from the agencies. "But are the officers free to collect information about saboteurs? Not a chance. The prime minster had recently repeated that such an exercise must pass the test of political correctness,' Singh alleged.

"All these (charges) about negligence and failure of intelligence and failure of security agencies have been said again and again and since nobody listens, it must be said again. No accountability is enforced. Intelligence agencies take shelter by sending vague, inactionable and unspecific information or guesswork, which they call or pass off as intelligence," Singh said.

He suggested that some of the steps that can be taken to prevent terrorism are the use of high technology like the use of CCTV cameras, stricter border patrolling, having a National Citizens Register and involving the Muslim community in the fight against terrorism by enlisting them in intelligence and security agencies. 

"If there is a will to fight terrorism and create a federal agency, the government can do it overnight by an ordinance. India is governed by the rule of law and not statements of the leaders," he said.

"Unfortunately, we do not have even a tough law in place to fight and eliminate terrorism. In our country the central government is hair splitting on whether Gujarat or Rajasthan needs a tougher anti-terrorist law. Not only those two states, the country as a whole needs tough anti-terrorism laws," Singh said.

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