January 05, 2009

INDIA: Focus on human intelligence, new SWAT teams as CMs brainstorm on terror today

Indian Express, India
Shishir Gupta
Posted: Jan 06, 2009 at 0424 hrs IST

New Delhi: In a paradigm shift, the Centre has urged Chief Ministers to reactivate human intelligence networks in their states without reducing emphasis on technical intelligence and set up SWAT commando police units for special operations, and informed them of the beefing-up of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) as the country’s core counter-terror mechanism. The Government has, through a classified order, put both the military and civilian apparatus at the MAC’s disposal in the event of a terrorist threat.

A 27-page agenda paper the Home Ministry has sent to Chief Ministers ahead of Tuesday’s meeting notes that human intelligence has got “considerably eroded” with an “increasing reliance on TechINT, which, although extremely and crucially important in its own place and requiring incremental development of capabilities, can never be a substitute for the former.”

The paper calls for the revival of the beat constable system, and urges state governments to develop domain intelligence by harnessing human resources within the community. Under the head of ‘Preventive Measures and Security Arrangements’, the Government has asked state police forces to carry out detailed security audits of soft targets like malls, multiplexes, hotels, hospitals and mass rapid transit systems with the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureaus in their states.

A key suggestion is to set up Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams to deal with terrorist situations. “Such teams would have the capability of rapid mobilisation, deployment and would have specialised weaponry, training, communications and protective devices.”
The Government has also decided that at least two companies in each of the 134 India Reserve Battalions would now have a commando component. A sum of Rs 6 crore has been approved per battalion.

At the heart of the proposal to enhance the internal security and intelligence apparatus is the December 31, 2008 order defining the role and power of the MAC under the Director, Intelligence Bureau. The order says: “It is necessary and expedient to establish a centre to counter terrorism and terrorist threats and bring under one body all matters relating to gathering, analysis and sharing of intelligence pertaining to terrorism, and devising strategies to vacate the threat.”

The Centre has informed Chief Ministers that subsidiary centres would be opened in all states, and that it is imperative that all data and intelligence inputs are forwarded to it.

The decision to redefine the powers of the MAC, originally set up on the recommendation of the Kargil Committee through a December 6, 2001 order, was taken in view of the agency’s failure to live up to its objectives and expectations. “While a (terrorist) database has been built, other aims of MAC have not been achieved; practically no data related to terrorist activities are received from the Central and state security forces and agencies.”

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