HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Union home ministry decides to sack NATGRID chief

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   New Delhi, June 05, 2014
First Published: 23:34 IST(5/6/2014) | Last Updated: 23:44 IST(5/6/2014)

The founder-CEO of India’s National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Capt Raghu Raman has been verbally informed by Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) officials that his contract will not be renewed. According to NATGRID sources, Raman has been at home awaiting formal orders since Monday while NATGRID has been left to fend for itself till there is further clarity.

The move comes within a week of Union home minister Rajnath Singh taking over at the helm. Curiously, Raman was not called by Union home secretary Anil Goswami when Singh was briefed. Interestingly, Raman’s two-year extension had been cleared by the cabinet committee on security just before UPA exited. Raman remained unavailable for comments.

“There is no clear formal directive on Raman’s extension so we are awaiting a written communication,” a senior MHA official told HT. NATGRID was one of the projects initiated by then Union home minister P Chidambaram to address the short comings exposed by the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.

It was set up to link 22 databases that will allow intelligence and security agencies to mine data for counter-terrorism efforts. Started with a budget that hovered around `1000 crore, it was created as a hybrid organisation with talent drawn from the private and public sectors. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) was prepared within months of its creation and then cleared by the CCS for implementation.

“But NATGRID has traditionally faced opposition from the Intelligence Bureau which has played a dominant role on internal security issues. There has been an issue of access and control of information,” a senior intelligence official told HT. “NATGRID was originally meant to be run by the IB. This arrangement could be in the pipeline now,” he added.

The project has seen numerous delays in implementation due to several bureaucratic wrangles and has drawn flak from privacy advocates. Sources within the BJP indicated to HT that they are likely to take this up with the government soon.

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