The latest terror attacks in Delhi and Mumbai have exposed the fragility of our security system. Government is still in Catch-22 regarding taking stringent and effective measures to bulldoze terrorism. Two years ago, the government had talked about creating National Anti-Terror Center (NCTC), but it has not been implemented so far. Former Intelligence Bureau Chief AK Doval paints the situation extremely grim. He is of the view that there is a lack of national policy to deal with terror menace. He extensively talked about prevalent condition of terrorism, relevance and difficulties of the NCTC with Dainik Jagran’s special correspondent Neelu Ranjan.    
Excerpts:

The Prime Minister has termed the security environment in the country unstable, while the Home Minister has stated that the preparation against the terror is incomplete. Why is government so helpless before the terrorists?
Lack of national policy which has wide gamut from foreign issue to local policing to fend off terrorism is the biggest reason. After 26/11, India strongly put up its point of punishing the terrorists before starting dialogue with Pakistan, but later it backed out and started the dialogue. In the meantime, by removing POTA in December 2004, the government drove home the message that its stand towards terrorism is not very strict. A strong national policy is required to fight terrorism. Due to lack of this sort of policy, we are unable to stop the terror attacks and also fail to nail the culprits.

Chidambaram is upset over not setting up of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Will setting up this body suffice to crush the plans of terrorists?

Chidambaram made this announcement in 2009 and it was a very relevant suggestion which should have been implemented. Until the NCTC is set up, the forming of NIA wouldn’t serve the purpose. It is disappointing that even after two years of its announcement, the government has failed to release its blue print. NCTC can be started even in two months.

How is it?
NCTC has three main parts. Collecting information about terrorists, quick action to eliminate terrorists and punish them by probing terror activities. Multi Agency Centre (MAC) is already collecting intelligence. The NSG is already taking quick action against terrorists, while the NIA is probing terror activities. If all the three units work together, it will assume the dimension of the NCTC. Gradually, rest of the things will also fall in right place.

But as per India's federal structure, without the consent of the state government the NSG doesn’t have the legal right to take direct action against the terrorist?   
For this, NCTC can be attached to existing ATS. Even after being part of the state government, it can work with NCTC. In such a situation, ATS can take action against the terrorists and at the Centre the NSG can assist them.      

Then what is the bottleneck for establishing NCTC?

The trouble is lying with the clear stand of the government. When there is no clarity at the top level, confusion would prevail. In such a scenario, even if we have all the resources, we fail to make good use of it.

How can NCTC alone fight out the terrorists whose tentacles have criss-crossed the country? For it, there is a need of proper network in the country.
I agree. This is the real problem with NCTC. But for this, the Intelligence Bureau can be linked with it. The Intelligence Bureau is the only organization which exists everywhere in the country and by joining NCTC; taking action anywhere in the country will not be difficult.

This step may result in conflict between the IB and the NCTC as same officer would be working for both the agencies?
NCTC should be a part of the intelligence department. Intelligence Bureau is the nodal agency in the country against terror attacks, and MAC is its part. There may be many benefits, if NCTC is made part of the Intelligence. The communication system of the IB from across the country will be able to use existing intelligence system. To build such a system, NCTC would take several years. NCTC can be made an independent body and its Director may be given the position of Special Director of Intelligence.

What should government do to start NCTC?
I think, the government should first make an action plan for NCTC and based on existing resources it should be started immediately. Later it can be strengthened.

Chidambaram himself has stated that internal security budget is significantly lower than that of the defense budget. Is it not necessary to increase it?
I will not compare budget for internal security with that of defence budget as it is also less as far as strategic environment is concerned. But the budget for internal security is very less. Regarding the ratio of population and police, India stands at lower rung. Moreover, there are even many loopholes in the way the present budget of the internal security is being used. The first reason is that we are just focusing on increasing police strength. Small number of trained police is much more effective. Very less amount of the budget is being used in gathering intelligence in the states. With precise intelligence input, the work of 15 people would be equivalent to that of 15000 men.     

Intelligence Bureau Chief has stated that many security agencies are helpless before the terrorists. What do you think?

We should have equipped ourselves prior to the change in the strategy of the terrorists. Intelligence Bureau has to concentrate on it. Either we have to foresee the terrorist strategy to surprise them or they will surprise us. There is no place for old methods. Every time a new prescription is required. Security agencies must be prepared to deal with this challenge.

JPN/Bureau