B S Raghavan

Keep politics out of fight against terrorism

B. S. Raghavan | Updated on February 26, 2013

Mayhem in Hyderabad



The Hyderabad twin-blasts of February 21 which have resulted in the nation once again paying a high price in terms of the number of the dead and injured has turned the spotlight on the hitherto dormant proposal to constitute a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). It is a moot question whether the presence of NCTC alone would have averted the occurrence of the tragic event.

It would seem, according to published reports, that as early as in October last, the interrogation of an Indian Mujahideen operative, Sayed Maqbool, alias Zuber of Nanded district, Maharashtra, had revealed some preparations being afoot for an attack in Dilsukhnagar.

Even in the absence of a mechanism like NCTC, the intelligence agencies of the Centre and the States concerned should have immediately gone on high alert and geared themselves up by beginning continuous monitoring of the conversations between the Indian Mujahideen founders — Riyaz Bhatkal and Yasin Bhatkal — and their known accomplices in India.

It has also been given out on behalf of the Hyderabad police that, following the receipt of various leads, they subjected Dilsukhnagar to a recce for an astounding 400 times.

The Government should immediately ask someone who commands universal respect for his distinguished record of service in the field of administration or national security to go into this limited aspect of the reasons why, despite clues being available, the blasts could not be prevented.

UNCHECKED INTRUSION

It is important to remember that there is plenty that can be done by police and security agencies of the Centre and the States even within the existing means and resources.

Already, over a long period extending back to the colonial era, they have evolved methods and procedures for an integrated approach to crime control and national security.

Unfortunately, in common with all other institutions which once enjoyed great reputation for professional competence and integrity, the police, security and intelligence establishments too have had their efficiency and capabilities gravely undermined by the unchecked intrusion of the political virus.

All political parties, without exception, are equally to be blamed for playing vote-bank politics which is at the root of the demoralisation of investigative agencies.

Hence, while nobody can question the importance of bringing into being a mechanism like the NCTC to ensure coordinated collection, collation and assessment of intelligence, strategic planning, and follow-up action, far more imperative, in my opinion, is for political parties to enter into a compact to keep above party politics the formulation of policies, strategies and measures for national security and the safety of the aam aadmi for whom they shed such copious tears.

If politicians and political parties are determined to persist in their tendency to play politics with the life-and-death issue of national security, mere establishment of yet one more institution like the NCTC will become purposeless, for that too will soon fall a prey to political machinations.

SUPREME COURT VERDICT

In this light, the launching of police reforms has assumed extreme urgency. Indeed, the willingness of political parties to do so is the litmus test of their sincerity not only in fighting terror but also in assuring safety and rule of law for the people.

The entire scope and format have already been laid down by the Supreme Court itself in its historic judgment delivered as early as on September 22, 2006, in the case of Prakash Singh vs The Union of India.

In its verdict, the Apex Court directed the Central and State Governments to carry out the reforms as a means of guaranteeing functional autonomy for the police without in any way diluting the criteria for enhanced police accountability.

Functional autonomy was to be achieved by security of tenure, appointments on merit and free hand in enforcing the law, while enhanced accountability was to be brought about by means of a watch-dog and grievance-redress body of eminent, independent and experienced persons forming a buffer between the police and the government.

Despite the Supreme Court itself putting all its weight and authority behind the directive, neither the Central and State Governments nor the national, regional and state political parties have shown any sense of earnestness in giving effect to it.

Without tackling the malaise at the fundamental level, setting up one new mechanism after another cannot, by itself, be a solution. It will only create more hierarchies and bureaucracies getting into the hair of one another.

Published on February 26, 2013

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