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PC wants lean anti- terror machine.

UNION home minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday announced an overhaul of the country's security set- up to counter terror more efficiently and effectively.

By the end of next year, India will get its own version of the US's National Counterterrorism Center ( NCTC).

The home minister admitted luck had played a major role in foiling 13 terror attacks on the line of 26/ 11. This was after the Mumbai carnage.

" The US created the NCTC within 36 months of 9/ 11. But India cannot afford to wait so long. We must set up the NCTC by the end of 2010. Sooner than you think, there may be another crisis like the hijack of IC- 814 or another catastrophe like the Mumbai terror attack," Chidambaram said at an Intelligence Bureau ( IB) function.

The NCTC will report to the home ministry. The ministry will be bifurcated so that one half deals only with matters pertaining to internal security, the home minister said.

The NCTC will be headed by a police or military officer, who will be the " single person" accountable for all matters relating to internal security. In the existing system, there is no single authority to which various intelligence agencies report.

" The NCTC will deal with intelligence, investigation and operations against terror- related crimes," Chidambaram said.

The multi- agency centre ( MAC) in the IB will be included in the NCTC and will be at the core of the new organisation. The National Technical Research Organisation and Joint Intelligence Committee -- currently reporting to national security adviser ( NSA) M. K. Narayanan -- will be brought under the ambit of the NCTC. Representatives from the Defence Intelligence Agency and Financial Intelligence Unit will also be deputed to the NCTC.

The NCTC will eat into the powers enjoyed by the NSA. " The establishment of NCTC will result in transferring some responsibilities of the existing bodies. We will have to re- examine the positioning of the Research and Analysis Wing, Aviation Research Centre ( it reports to the NSA) and the CBI," Chidambaram said. The newlyformed National Investigation Agency will also come under the NCTC. Chidambaram said the National Security Guard ( NSG) and CRPF's anti- Naxalite CoBRA unit will also be part of the NCTC. " Without operations, the NCTC will be incomplete. It will respond to terror unleashed by any group -- be it insurgents, Naxalites or terrorist groups," he said.

But it's definitely not going to be a cakewalk.

Indian intelligence agencies are infamous for not sharing information. It also remains to be seen how state governments react to the move as law and order is a state subject.

" Questions concerning jurisdiction and turf will arise. It is my fervent plea that the NCTC should not result in turf wars.

The proposal will soon reach the Union cabinet for approval," Chidambaram said.

The crime and criminal tracking system -- which will link data between all police stations in the country -- and the NATGRID, a central pool database of citizens, will also come under NCTC. The centre will also supervise a revamped visa system.

Chidambaram said he wanted to focus on security issues. " The home ministry handles a wide portfolio of subjects such as benefits to freedom fighters, Centrestate relations and even Census. Internal security deserves our highest attention.

So, the other subjects should be brought under a separate ministry or a separate department in the ministry. It should be under the charge of a minister, more or less independent," Chidambaram said.

aman. sharma@mailtoday.in

NO MORE COUNTING ON 'LUCK' TO COUNTER TERROR

NCTC IN THE US

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established in 2004 as a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission

The NCTC head reports to the US President and director of the national intelligence. It is staffed by more than 500 personnel from more than 16 departments. It integrates all intelligence on counterterrorism

The NCTC collates more than 30 intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security networks under one roof. It serves as the central knowledge bank on terrorists and international terror groups

It's the primary organisation for strategic operational planning for counterterrorism

ON HOME FRONT

The IB reports to the home minister

RAW reports to the Prime Minister

The National Security Council Secretariat is under the NSA

Each wing of the defence forces has its own intelligence agency. They fall under an umbrella body called the Defence Intelligence Agency

We have agencies that specialise in financial intelligence as well

The para-military forces and the NIA report to the Union home ministry

WHAT'LL CHANGE

All intelligence agencies will have to be represented in the NCTC

The Multi-Agency Centre in IB would be subsumed in the NCTC

The NCTC chief will be accountable to the country on all matters relating to internal security. The centre, to be set up by the end of 2010, will be placed under the home ministry

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 24, 2009
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