The twin blasts in Hyderabad have once again exposed our vulnerability to terror. Although there is no permanent solution to end terror, Indian security forces must develop a more mature understanding of the beast and work on setting up a sophisticated intelligence network that can help them stop such attacks.
Here's a roadmap on how to secure the country: first, security agencies must have enough information about terror groups, their methods of operation and their level of motivation. For gathering intelligence, they must develop a good network of informers and improve day-to-day policing. However, we should not expect governments alone to improve the general security environment; citizens need to do their bit also. Second, we must learn from the West's anti-terror strategies. For example, the United States Patriot Act, 2001, gave the country's security agencies powers to acquire information about communication networks and properties of terror suspects. Under Britain's Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1984, security agencies can detain and imprison suspects for one-and-a half months without framing charges.
In India, attempts have been made to ensure the proper implementation of anti-terror laws. But due to opposition from various quarters, these Acts were allowed to lapse. The Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987, was not extended beyond 1995. Similarly, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, was not extended beyond 2004. States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat have made attempts to enact separate laws to tackle terror.
Third, security is an ever-changing landscape. The security apparatus needs to continuously upgrade itself to stay ahead of the terror groups. Importantly, they need to develop a capability that can anticipate security needs of the future. This can be done by:
- Carefully examining important incidents and preparing detailed action-oriented reports on insurgency-affected areas.
Building a sophisticated communication network as part of a wider modernisation drive that gives access to the latest technology.
- Better management of local contacts and sources of assistance.
- Developing new techniques of security and maintenance of secrecy.
- Transferring talent: there is a huge need for specialists in the affected areas.
- Training securitymen on issues related to human rights, civil liberties, prisoner rights, etc.
- Improving the overall quality of security development programmes for police personnel.
- Training of police officers so that they can provide active but neutral leadership to their units.
However, all efforts will amount to nothing unless the criminal justice system is amended and there is political will to implement the suggestions made by different panels on security. We must remember that the issue of a law and order problem is different from the issue of terrorism. We often make the mistake of treating them as the same.
Sudhir Hindwan is a professor of political science and a strategic affairs expert
The views expressed by the author are personal