Two consecutive blasts in Hyderabad have once again highlighted the flaws in the security apparatus of the country. The explosions claimed 16 lives and left as many as 100 people injured. The serial blasts in Hyderabad have triggered serious concerns as Union Home Minister categorically said that the Andhra Pradesh government was given prior alert regarding the possibility of terror strikes in the state. After facing vitriolic criticisms from all fronts, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in the Parliament that the information passed on to the state government was a normal alert which is usually shared by his ministry with the state governments. However, it is palpable that the incident was a result of the intelligence failure and slackness of security agencies. If the intelligence agencies really had concrete information regarding possibility of terror attacks in any part of the country and it was passed on to the state government, the country would like to know—why was no action taken in time to prevent such a gruesome incident. And if the intelligence agencies were clueless about the nefarious designs of the terrorists, it would be pertinent to raise question on their slipshodness. Now it appears that the terror outfits are displaying their audacity by adopting new methods for carrying out terror attacks but our security agencies are not showing any proactiveness to checkmate them. During the interrogation of an Indian Mujahideen operative, Delhi Police learnt that terrorists were indeed planning to carry out terror attacks in Hyderabad, but unfortunately the security agencies failed to act in time to foil such plans.

There is a need for serious contemplation on why the security agencies failed to prevent such unfortunate incident. At the same time, it is also important to know that where exactly was the negligence due to which the plot could not be foiled? It is surprising to know that our security agencies get prior information about possibility of the terror strikes but of no avail. It is perhaps so because proper attention is not given on removing the loopholes. A major reason behind such failures is the lack of an optimum coordination between intelligence and security agencies besides the lack of coordination between the police forces of different state governments. The lack of coordination often results into standoff between states’ anti-terror squads and central agencies. The problem gets even more critical as the Centre and the state governments are not keen to work together in tackling the challenges posed by the menace of terrorism. States have developed a habit of clamouring over the subject of law and order which comes under their purview and stress that their authority on the state police forces cannot be diluted. So, there is a lack of unanimous effort to strengthen the security apparatus of the country.

Undoubtedly, India has a federal system of governance and state governments have been constitutionally empowered with many specific rights, but it does not mean that they can be allowed to act irresponsibly when it comes to seriously address the problems which are threatening the internal security of the nation. When the constitution was framed after the independence, perhaps nobody would have thought about the problem of terrorism at that time. Of course, it was a challenge before the makers of our constitution how to keep the country having vast cultural diversity together after the independence. Federal structure was adopted so that states with vast cultural diversity could not find difficult in standing together. Now a great deal of change has taken place in terms of circumstances. At present, large numbers of people are migrating from one state to another in search of jobs. Given this, the federal structure cannot be defined as a sharp divide between the Centre and the states. To effectively tackle the problem of terrorism, our policy makers are required to adopt such a unified system which has been adopted by many democratic countries of the world that has yielded good results.

One cannot deny the fact that the problem of terrorism has become more severe only because our state governments are not ready to get rid of political narrow-mindedness. The style of functioning of the ruling parties in many states reflects that they consider themselves as princely states of pre-independence era. They want to use the police forces of their respective states as if they are their private property. This attitude is basically responsible for not allowing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) to become functional. NCTC is being seen as an effective mechanism to combat the scourge of terrorism. According to many defence analysts, one such a body should have come into existence much earlier whereas the state governments believe that the Centre is trying to infringe their rights by setting NCTC. Now, it is required to remove the roadblock in the way of NCTC and at the same time properly address the genuine concerns of the state governments. It is not fair on part of the Centre to create a new system without consulting the state governments in the name of fighting terrorism.

After Hyderabad blasts, the need to make NCTC functional is being underlined once again. Given this situation, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is on the one hand ready to address the concerns of the state governments, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on the other hand has given a signal that Centre can move ahead in the direction of making NCTC functional without wasting time anymore on evolving consensus. It will be interesting to see if this could be possible in the light of the fact that policies in India are mostly influenced by vested politics. Many times it becomes difficult to evolve consensus over the issues which are directly concerned to the national interests. It is really bewildering to know that our political class is not ready to understand that if the vested interests are allowed to dominate the issues concerned to the national security and economic policies, it will be fatal for the nation. It cannot be overlooked that Goods and Service Tax (GST) and Direct Tax Code (DTC) are put on backburner only due to opposition by the state governments. It is well known that there is a sharp divide between the Centre and state governments over the issue of combating the scourge of namxalism.

This does not mean that only the party which is in power at the Centre has to be concerned about the national issues and the state governments should keep creating obstacles. It is unfortunate that states are not ready to act in tandem with the Centre when it comes to address the national issues. This posture of the state governments has immensely delayed the resolving of many problems. No doubt that the nation will have to pay for such delays. Political parties are expected to rise above their political differences at least over the issues of national interest.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on February 24, 2013 translated by the English editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)