Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Maharastra: Soon, state will have crack intelligence unit of its own

Shubhangi Khapre / DNAWednesday, July 8, 2009 2:23 IST Email

Mumbai: The Democratic Front government may not have accepted the controversial RD Pradhan committee report in totality, but home ministry Jayant Patil has begun the process of implementing its recommendations to strengthen intelligence gathering across the state.

Patil said, "We have started executing the important suggestions made in the report." Justifying the government decision to withhold the Pradhan committee report, he added, "There are some sensitive aspects related to the chain of command in intelligence gathering, which cannot be divulged."

Taking lessons from the intelligence failure before the 26/11 terror attacks, the government is out to make amends. Patil said, "We have decided to build a strong intelligence unit for information gathering comprising 227 members. Forty-five of them have already been recruited.

Another 100 will be added as assistant intelligence officials, plus there will be 82 intelligence officers." These officers, unlike their counterparts in the police force, will never be transferred to any other department.

Explaining why an exception was being made, the home minister said, "What worries me is that a certain officer meticulously cultivates sources over the years, but becomes redundant or out of focus once he is transferred to another department. Continuity is crucial to information gathering exercise."

Patil said modernisation of the entire police department would require lots of money. "I asked for Rs1,000 crore budget allocation for the home department, but received less than 50% of it. However, chief minister Ashok Chavan and finance minister Dilip Walse-Patil have assured me that they would make additional funds available as and when required," he said.

The preliminary training of the 220-member Force One will be over by mid-August. The home department plans to bring in foreign experts for the second stage of training, said the home minister. "The foreign experts are willing to come and train our candidates. But they have certain conditions, which we will have to consider before taking any decision."

Reining in the Naxalites is another big challenge for the home minister. "Union home minister P Chidambaram is arriving in Mumbai next month, said Patil. "We will be discussing the state-Centre joint patrolling in Naxal-dominated areas."

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