Friday, June 05, 2009

Govt promises action, not just tough talk, on terror

5 Jun 2009, 0548 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Outlining the new government’s resolve to meet internal security challenges head-on , President Pratibha Patil announced a
zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and stern measures to handle insurgency and Left-wing extremism . “The government has already prepared a detailed plan to address internal security challenges to be implemented in a timebound manner,” Ms Patil said.

While making it clear that terrorism would not be put up with, Ms Patil said a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) - an operational mechanism conceived by a taskforce on ‘Developing an Integrated Capability to address Internal Security Challenges’ led by NSA M K Narayanan - would be set up to take proactive anti-terror steps.

NCTC is conceived as a full-time agency with operational objectives that will have access to all the multi-agency centre (MAC) information, which will help it prepare intelligence-based operational plans. NCTC is proposed as a broadbased structure, complete with representatives of the Army and Central para-military forces.

According to Ms Patil, MAC, the centralised agency for collection and collation of intelligence, would be strengthened to ensure effective intelligence sharing and processing. As many as 30 state-level MACs are being set up to ensure smooth flow of intelligence to MAC from all parts of the country. “Enhanced information and intelligence sharing on a real-time basis would be made possible by the creation of a net-centric information command structure,” said Ms Patil.

“Stern measures to handle insurgency and Left-wing extremism will be taken,” she told MPs. Earlier, Union home minister P Chidambaram had, in a shift from the last government’s approach that counter-Naxal operations and development should go hand-in-hand , favoured counter-operations first to clear the area of Naxalites and an immediate follow-up with development of the “liberated” zones.

In the north-east too, the government is planning to tackle insurgent groups, especially the small but lethal players like DHD(Jewel), with full military might. Once the small insurgent groups have been decimated in counteroperations , the big fish like Ulfa will be tackled.

Talking about NIA, which has already been entrusted with three cases for investigation, Ms Patil said it would be empowered adequately to handle terror-related cases. Central and state police forces as well as the intelligence agencies would undergo massive expansion, both in terms of manpower and technology.

Special Forces and Quick Response Teams, she added, would be raised and deployed in vulnerable areas . Ms Patil sought the active participation of citizens in ensuring community policing. She also said maintenance of communal harmony was a priority for the government. “The mandate my government received was unmistakable in that the people wanted the country’s secular fabric to be protected,” she said.

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