Several state governments are concerned that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — formed by the Centre to combat terror in the aftermath of 26/11 terror attacks — was encroaching upon their policing powers. Now, an expert panel has recommended setting up an agency much larger in scope and power.
A Task Force of the Commission on Centre-State Relations is of the opinion that the NIA doesn’t serve any purpose in its present form and that a nodal anti-terrorist agency can deal effectively with the menace.
The recommendations, to be discussed with state governments, political parties and government bodies before the Commission finalises its report by March 2010, could face opposition from many states.
The proposed National Anti-Terrorist Agency, says the task force, should be responsible for tackling all aspects of terrorism — from prevention and pre-emption of terrorist attacks to collecting inputs from states and central intelligence agencies — besides maintaining and analysing data on terrorists. Its responsibilities would include coordinating with states and guiding them on terror-related issues, investigating cases and ensuring follow-ups.
Fali S. Nariman, a jurist and constitutional expert, heads the task force. Former Manipur governor and internal security expert Ved Marwah is its chairman. It submitted its report to the Commission on Centre-State Relations last month.
“The objective of the NIA is just investigation. It has no role in the prevention of a terrorist act...it’s not an anti-terrorist agency,” former director of National Police Academy Kamal Kumar, also a member of the Task Force, told HT. “We have recommended that the government enlarge the charter of the NIA and set up the National Anti-Terrorist Agency.”
Marwah says India requires a national-level anti-terrorist agency. He, however, declined to discuss the contents of the report. On his personal views, he said, “We should have one anti-terrorist agency accountable and answerable for every anti-terrorist action...”
If such an agency is set up, what happens to the NIA? “It can either be made part of the Central Bureau of Investigation or become a part of the national anti-terrorist agency,” he said.