It was for the first time that Home Minister Chidambaram admitted that his ministry had failed in keeping up to people’s expectations in combating and controlling terror blasts. That could be seen in the light of the fact that between 1st September 2010 to 31st August 2011, 29 personnel were killed in the north east, 14 in Jammu and Kashmir and 163 in left wing extremism affected states. He confessed that questions have been raised about the capacity, competence and commitment of our security forces and especially of the Intelligence community. Doubts have been expressed about the investigations that are underway and especially of the cases that remain unsolved. There is a concern about the long time taken for completion of trials and conviction of the accused. He also admitted that two terror attacks in the space of two months are indeed blots on our record.
It was the admission of the failure of the intelligence agencies during his regime as very little has been achieved in concrete terms in those seven blasts. But the Home Minister gave two strange sets of messages along with this. One was that he advised the DGPs to tell the people what the police force in each state has been able to achieve in terms of capacity building, recruitment, procurement, training, induction of technology, intelligence gathering, solving cases and overall improvement in the level of violence and maintenance of law and order.
Perhaps Mr Chidambaram forgot to admit that years of neglect had left the security forces under prepared to confront the multi-dimensional challenge facing the country.
He forgot to tell them that Indian police forces remain on 23rd to 56th position in the world on the above-mentioned areas.
He forgot to tell that that 36.2 per cent policemen in India were not even able to run at least 500 meters in one go.
He also forgot to tell them that more than taking up challenging job of policing, many IPS officers were making a bee-line to become PS or APS of some minister in the State or at the Centre.
He forgot to tell them that their traditional level/ method of investigation, obsolete arms and ammunition and their competence level was below par with some smaller African countries even.
The second message given by him to the DGPs was that they must take ownership of counter-insurgency measures and devise short and medium term measures/strategies against Left wing extremism’ as well as the admission that there is still a long distance to travel and more years of hard work. This was a clear indication that the Centre wants States to deal with such extremists as well as the helplessness of the Home minister in taking the issue head-on.
The most bizarre part was that instead of goading and galvanizing the top cops present in the meeting to come out with better and more effective strategies and mechanism to deal with the scourge of terror, Mr Chidambaram took shelter in the world wide phenomenon by saying that no country in the world appears to be entirely immune to the threat of terror including the United States. In 2011, there had been 279 major attacks in 22 countries and the worst affected areas have been Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter of terror is Afghanistan- Pakistan where four out of five major terrorist groups are Pakistan based and three of them –LET, JEM and HM continue to target India with alarming regularity.
The Home Minister quoted a few American examples and in that haze, ducked himself conveniently in. But he forgot to mention that there have been no major terror attack in US after 9/11 and the US Navy Seals finally bumped off Osama bin laden in Pakistani territory. But how about India? Mr Chidambaram forgot to count the number of terrorist attacks in India even after 26/11.
Over a period of 10 years, the US created the department of Homeland security, brought together 22 agencies and bodies under that Department. Fought two wars and sent its agents and troops to other countries. During last 10 years, 6000 plus soldiers have died; 137,000 civilians lost their lives; and 7.8 million became refugees. The cost of war has been estimated to be a little over $ 4 trillion and yet the US government officials admit that the job is not yet done.
But that cannot be compared with India because India does not have the hegemonic designs nor does it desire to play the role of world policemen as the US is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet our intelligence agencies have not been able to live up to their reputation. On the other hand, a new terror outfit springs up like mushroom. But it is far from being reined in. The NIA has been proving to be a non-starter.
The Union Home Minister should have done justice to himself if he had tried to address to the following issues:
1.How is it that Indian agencies have not been able to see the Pakistani game of using Indian youth as their active and sleeper cells to execute bomb blasts inflict terror attacks?
2.Why the government has been publicizing the Indian modules that espouse the cause of right wing religious fundamentalism or separatism?
3.Was any serious attempt made to find out why these outfits started raising their heads now?
4.Why is it that no arrests have been made to apprehend the culprits after a few congressmen raised a lot of hue and cry on Balta house encounter and so on?
5.Why religion comes in the middle of investigation by the security agencies and why a few politicians play politics even in the name of terror?
6.Why the centre has not been able to build a consensus on the speedy trial and harsh punishment to those terror mongers, irrespective or their caste and religion, once their crime has been proved?
7.Why a few NGOs and RTI groups have butted in to thwart the investigation on religious grounds?
8.Why a section of media too less than impartial in projecting the correct picture?
Mr Chidambaram should have also questioned and searched his own soul on the following issues:-
1.Why there are still over 5,00,000 vacancies yet to be filled in State police forces?
2. The authorized strength of IPs officers was 4,720 on 1st January 2011 and yet, there were only 3,393 IPS officers in their position and it would take another seven years to reach that optimum level.
3.Why all states had not adopted the uniform and transparent recruitment process?
4. What happened to crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS) which was supposed to have been operational by now? By all indications, it would not be operational before 2013.
5.How about the other ambitious project called NATGRID? By all indications, it would take another few months for its completion.
6. What happened to the establishment of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) that Mr Chidambaram had promised in 2009? This Centre was meant for working as the nodal body to disrupt, defeat and eventually defeat the terrorist groups.
Under these circumstances, it remains to be seen how quickly Indian intelligence agencies learn from their past mistakes and how effectively they are able to combat against terror and redeem their own reputation.