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Federal agency, maritime security on all-party agenda

India will have a federal investigation agency, strengthen air and maritime security and establish four regional hubs of the counter-terrorism force, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told an all-party meeting, reports Srinand Jha.

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2008 01:09 IST
Srinand Jha

India will have a federal investigation agency, strengthen air and maritime security and establish four regional hubs of the counter-terrorism force, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told an all-party meeting on Sunday as he urged for political consensus to send a message to terrorists that their attacks “unite rather than divide us”.

The meeting, which came within hours of P. Chidambaram’s appointment as home minister, also saw the PM announcing finalisation of “a set of legal measures” based on the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission that called for a tough anti-terror law and a federal agency.

The government has been debating proposals to toughen the existing legal framework for more than a year. The Mumbai attacks seemed to have nudged the government to move from the stage of intent to that of implementation. “But much more needs to be done and we are determined to take all necessary measures to overhaul the system,” Singh said in his opening remarks, before asking Chidambaram to open the discussions.

The PM mentioned steps to strengthen maritime and air security involving the navy, the Coast Guard and coastal police, as well as the air force and the Civil Aviation Ministry. He announced strengthening and streamlining of anti-terrorist forces including the National Security Guard, which would be given additional facilities and manpower, proposals former home minister Shivraj Patil had pushed through.

“We should build consensus on what needs to be done to strengthen the ability of our systems to meet these threats. Terrorists and enemies of our nation must know their actions unite rather than divide us,” Singh said. The BJP was represented by V.K. Malhotra and Jaswant Singh. The Shiv Sena stayed away.