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Low on intelligence

Low on intelligence

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 31, 2008

Jihadis have a free run of India

The serial bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad and the subsequent discovery of bombs in Surat have served to highlight a fact which has been known for long: Our counter-terrorism mechanism, including intelligence-gathering, is in a shambles. In the recent past, this point was driven home by terrorists who set off bombs in Jaipur. The latest bombings have left the country on red alert and the people on tenterhooks, wondering where the next attack will come from and in what form. Jihad's deadly poison has begun to seep through the length and breadth of the country. For the umpteenth time, authorities have been caught napping and Government's claimed counter-terrorism efforts have been exposed as no more than a sham. The jihadis have clearly outfoxed our intelligence agencies yet again. This represents a victory for the ISI and marks its ability to increasingly organise terror in India. It would appear to have established an entrenched network of terrorists with resources and manpower at its command. The ISI's foot soldiers have succeeded in disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens and ensured that the country pays a price. This is a situation that the terrorist craves but which must be denied him. It leaves one wondering why our agencies continue to fail in their task. This by itself is in some respects surprising; it is not as if this country is facing terrorism of late. Various terrorist outrages have taken place over many years and the country is supposedly an old hand at fighting this evil. The intelligence agencies, as also, indeed the police, are expected to have predictive and preventive abilities. This expectation has turned out to be hollow: After each outrage there is a flurry of activity and steps are taken to 'tighten' security and 'strengthen' the security and intelligence agencies. Money continues to be poured in for this purpose. It is, therefore, necessary to probe the reasons why the intelligence and security agencies continue to fail time and again.

There are suggestions aplenty for new ways of fighting terrorism. There has been a demand in some quarters for a new federal police agency. Though this appears to be a good suggestion, experts have been quick to point out whether adding to the plethora of police organisations will serve any purpose unless there is matching political will. But there are equally compelling arguments in support of a federal agency to combat organised crime, including terrorism. Yet, this effort will fetch little or no result unless there is a qualitative improvement in intelligence-gathering and processing. It is no secret that the Intelligence Bureau has been reduced to no more than an extension counter of the ruling party; there is virtually no network for collecting local intelligence; and, those entrusted with the job of collating and analysing inputs, including electronic chatter, do not measure up to their job. Nepotism, sloth and political patronage have rendered our agencies ineffective and reduced them to a pathetic shadow of their past. It is not surprising that in the immediate days preceding the latest terrorist outrage our intelligence agencies and the National Security Adviser were busy marshalling support for the Congress to ensure the UPA Government's victory in the confidence motion moved by the Prime Minister. Needless to add, those who so callously ignored their responsibility to the nation are sitting pretty as they enjoy the incumbent regime's protection.

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