Friday, May 22, 2009

Setting up (National Counter Terrorism Centre ) NCTC a challenge

Economic Times, India
23 May 2009, 0236 hrs IST, Bharti Jain, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Now that the multi-agency centre (MAC) is operating 24x7 to collate terror-related information, the Manmohan Singh government is all set
to create a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) as well to take care of operational aspects of the fight against terror

The recommendation for setting up the NCTC was made by the taskforce on ‘developing an integrated capability to address internal security challenges’ headed by national security adviser MK Narayanan. Among the other key proposals — some with set deadlines ranging from one month to three months — are the creation of special crack units in the states to handle terror emergencies, especially in key urban centres where NSG cannot be immediately deployed. The taskforce has, in its report, also sought the creation of a CISF-like industrial security force in each state to protect economic and infrastructure assets.

In its report finalised recently, the taskforce recommended a joint police command to facilitate borderless operations against Naxalites operating in contiguous districts of the affected states. The modalities for such a proposal would however have to be worked out in consultation with the states as it involves jurisdiction issues. The taskforce comprising top intelligence officials also called for strengthening of the intelligence structure and better connectivity among MAC, SMACs and special branches to enable real-time data sharing and quick follow-up action.

The NCTC, which will have due representation of intelligence agencies, Central paramilitary forces and Army, will essentially focus on operational objectives. Proposed as a supplement to multi-agency centre (MAC) that would have access to all information collated by the latter, the NCTC would draw up operational plans to counter the “specific” terror threats.

It will also oversee the implementation of these action plans in close coordination with the Central and state police agencies. However, the NCTC proposal is still in a nascent stage and the new government will be discussing its possible legal backup with the law ministry. The options available include a special Act to empower the NCTC to plan and oversee counter-operations against terror or its creation by an executive decision.

The proposed state-level anti-terror crack units, which may be headed by the local police chief, will be located in vulnerable cities where NSG may not be hand during a terror crisis. The special units are proposed to be raised on the lines of the India Reserve battalions, with a Central component thrown in.

While special intelligence units are also proposed at the police station level in vulnerable cities to gather local intelligence inputs and anticipate terror threats, there will be collation centres at the district level which in turn will channel intelligence flow into the fusion centres at the state level. The same would then to routed to the subsidiary MACs to the MAC.

Interestingly, the taskforce has suggested a separate intra-state information-sharing network for the north-eastern region. Calling for a dedicated
action plan to counter the various insurgent threats, it has suggested electronic transfer of salaries and contractual payments to rule out their diversion for funding the rebel outfits.

In a recommendation that may not be very easy to implement, the taskforce has called for easing the NSG from VIP duties. It has also called for a time-bound plan for proper staffing, funds and manpower for NIA, strengthening of the authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, putting activation of the research and technology centre within the IB on fast track by giving it the mandatory clearances within a month and the creation of a special command within the BSF and CRPF.

No comments: