Why India needs a counter terrorism institution?

India has been living in a hostile neighborhood, especially on its western flank. Both state and non state actors are involved in various kinds of subversive and terrorists acts. The numbers of terror attack attempts have been increasing all over India. Therefore there is a need to overhaul the counter terror apparatus in India. The present institutional set up in India to deal with anti terror operations is:

1. Intelligence:

IB, RAW and MAC are involved in gathering intelligence. Multi Agency Centers (MAC) collate intelligence information from different sources and disseminate them.

2. Counter Terror operations: 

Counter terror operations are carried out by NSG and local police. The local police which act at the ground and is many a times first respondent. Other agencies like Army and special elite forces are also involved as and when required in aid of the civilian force.

3. Investigation: 

Investigation and prosecution is done by NIA which draws its power from Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

4. Center State relations and counter terrorism:

From the legal angle law and order, police are state subjects. But article 355 enjoins upon the Union duty to protect the sate and entry 2-A of Union List gives power to the Union to deploy its forces in aid of civil power of the state. These clear the issues regarding federal arrangements and issues thereof.

What was the proposed set up after 26/11 attacks?

After 26/11 attacks there was a clamor for strengthening of counter terror structures. In the wake up of 26/11 attacks National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and The National Intelligence Gird (NATGRID) were proposed. Along with this CCTNS (Crimes and Criminals Tracking and Networking System) to connect all the police stations was proposed.

NATGRID was envisaged as national intelligence grid which will collect information from various agencies covering human intelligence, financial intelligence, cyber intelligence, physical movement details etc. Then after analyzing the information that would be made available to 11 intelligence agencies like CBI, NIA, CBDT etc. for operation. NATGRID was supposed to subsume MAC.

NCTC was supposed to be federal anti terror agency involved in covering all aspects of counter terror operations starting from intelligence gathering, planning and executing operations. This was supposed to subsume NATGRID within it.

For further reforms or to analyse the need of new institutions the present issues afflicting the institutions must be studied.

What are the issues in present set up?

a. Co-ordination: There is absence of co-ordinations among the different agencies (intelligence, counter-terror operations) as was evident in Pathankot attck.

b. Training and Capacities: Even élite forces like the NSG suffer from chronic problems of acquisition and training. The state police does not undertake minimum required firing rounds.

c. Human resource: All the agencies face the shortage of staff.  The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has only 579 of the 816 personnel sanctioned, compared to the FBI's 34,019 staff, over 12,000 of whom are actual investigators.

d. Financial resources and technical resources crunch is also faced. Local police don't have enough funds for fuel to undertake local visits.

e. Autonomy, accountability, professional leadership and institutional ethos all are missing in many cases. No heads ever roll in case of failure of intelligence or operations.

f. Policing and State Delhi Police, for its part, has neither specialist equipment nor protocols for dealing with attacks on schools, malls or theatres - all, as recent experience around the world shows, potential targets. 

g. The police forces are not ready to tackle special issues facing the states, like infiltration in border states, inter-community conflicts in sensitive states.

h. Political will to carry out reforms is missing. Even the police reforms proposed by Supreme Court in Prakash Singh case are not implemented by states.

i. In border states the security forces and police are found in collusion with drug peddlers and smugglers. Terrorists use this to sneak into country.

j. Border infrastructure to stop infiltration is missing.

Do we need new counter terrorism institution?

A new institution subsuming all the staggered institutions will increase the coordination and smoothen the process of operation. But it will not be sufficient. Capacities of the state police forces should be increased. If India wants to stem the increasing tide of terrorist actions, holistic changes solving the present issues in the setup should be done. Just creating an agency at the national level will not suffice.