Four days after the Jaipur bomb blasts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for the first time, made a strong pitch for designating offences like terrorism and drug smuggling as federal ones — to be investigated by a central agency.
But he also hinted that Delhi would not let terrorist attacks like the Jaipur one to vitiate the next round of foreign ministers’ level Indo-Pak talks scheduled next week: that would amount to playing into the hands of the terrorists.<b1>
“It (tackling offences like terrorism) is not a task which can be effectively discharged by a single agency of any particular state,” he said at a press conference in Bagdogra on his way back to Delhi after a “very successful” two-day visit to Bhutan. “But so far, there is a reluctance on the part of the states in cooperating in surrendering that power.”
“We should have an open mind and explore the possibilities to recognise that there is such a thing as federal crime and that investigation of federal crime should be entrusted to an agency which would be fully equipped to discharge this onerous function,” he added.
After several efforts by the Union home ministry to convince state governments hit a roadblock, home minister Shivraj Patil has watered down the original proposal to persuade states to at least agree to joint coordinated investigations by central and state agencies.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed that there were systemic problems in the country’s intelligence gathering machinery. But he pointed out that it is a natural tendency to blame the security establishment every time a terrorist attack takes place -— without remembering the numerous occasions when they had been averted by the security and the intelligence agencies.
While “disturbing communal harmony” was one of the objectives of terrorists who struck in Jaipur’s crowded walled city area, the other one was to prevent the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Delhi has to accordingly devise its strategy, Manmohan Singh said.