26/11 four years on: India's grand terror checks a no-show
India still isn't equipped to prevent another 26/11-type attack, at least going by the status of the three anti-terror initiatives of the UPA government - the Natgrid, NCTC and the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems. Aloke Tikku reports.When terror came knockingindia Updated: Nov 26, 2012 09:31 IST
Four years after the Mumbai terror attacks that lasted three days, leaving 166 dead, India still isn't equipped to prevent another 26/11-type attack, at least going by the status of the three anti-terror initiatives of the UPA government - the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems.
"None of the big ticket projects have reached a critical mass where they would alter our capabilities in terms of counterterrorism," said security expert Ajai Sahni.
Natgrid, which was meant to set up a sophisticated network that could pull out data about any terrorist suspect within a matter of seconds, was P Chidambaram's pet project when he was home minister.
But when Chidambaram returned to the finance ministry, the project lost its most ardent supporter, and consequently, the momentum.
Currently, enmeshed in bureaucratic and inter-departmental power struggles, it runs the risk of falling on its face.
The NCTC - the most adventurous project of the three - has been shoved into the deep freezer after chief ministers protested that the Centre was giving itself the right to arrest terrorists anywhere in the states.
And, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems, which seeks to link 15,000 police stations in the country, hasn't taken off either.
Sahni, executive director at the institute for conflict management, attributes these no-shows to the absence of technical expertise within the police leadership.
"Our vulnerability remains despite some half-hearted, hesitant steps," former UP and BSF chief Prakash Singh said, counting NSG hubs, creation of NIA and a coastal security plan as steps forward.
"But poor police strength is the weakest link in the entire security architecture."
According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development's latest report, all the states put together had just about 10,000 more policemen in 2011 than in 2009, though home ministry officials say that recruitment - initially sluggish due to lack of adequate training facilities - has picked up remarkably.
Also, going by the number of VIPs making a beeline to get themselves armed police guards, the security and intelligence measures put in place after 26/11 haven't beefed up confidence in public security arrangements.
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