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We need better intelligence and surveillance capability: Dr Jayaprakash Narayan

Updated: February 22, 2013, 5:03 PM IST
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We need better intelligence and surveillance capability: Dr Jayaprakash Narayan
Why is Hyderabad being targeted repeatedly over the last one decade?

Why is Hyderabad being targeted repeatedly over the last one decade? Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, President, Lok Satta Party joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. We lacking system which punishes terrorists severely, they do not fear taking chances again and again against India, Why can't our govt be ruthless in punishing such culprits? Asked by: Sanndheep Kumar

A. Punishment is the last item. Intelligence gathering and prevention is most important. Only this morning (last night GMT), the London police arrested 3 terrorists before the crime is committed. This took well coordinated, professional work including surveillance, intelligence gathering and evidence collection. The result is, a big attack has been prevented, and these culprits will be convicted swiftly and easily in the court, as evidence is collected. That's what we need to do.

Q. What can a common man do? is it not the responsibility of government to provide security to it's citizens? will you accept it as a failure by the government? Asked by: Karthik R

A. In some respects, our citizens are handling terrorism superbly. There is excellent support to victims, there is no panic and life goes on normally pretty quickly. But there is a tendency to gather around the disaster sites. This will only increase the danger of further attacks, and hamper relief and investigation efforts. Right now thousands of people are thronging the bomb-blast sites in Hyd. That should be avoided. The govt and police should share terrorist threats with the people and educate them about the minimum precautions required. That will save many lives. In effect we will have lakhs of citizens acting as policemen.

Q. Must our police be well equipped, is there a need to recruit more police force, since the ratio is alarmingly low and more recruitment may lead to more safety, what do you say? Asked by: Karthik R

A. We only have about 110 policemen per 1 lakh population. Most of the world has 250 per 1 lakh. Even this small number is depleted because many are deployed for VIP security. The remaining are poorly trained and equipped. All this needs to be changed. For instance, in Dilsukhnagar, 2 CCTV cameras are not operational - one is dysfunctional and the other did not hard disks in place. Both are at the sites of bomb attacks. Reports indicate that one Syed Maqbool was arrested by Delhi police and he revealed that the bombing sites were reckied by IM. We are not sure if Hyderabad police knew of it. Evidently, they did not act on it. Now each is blaming the other. With specific advanced information, proper surveillance and regular monitoring of CCTV cameras, these blasts could have been prevented. We must learn lessons from these failures.

Q. India has been on the terrorism radar and frequent attacks are becoming difficult to deal with. I feel when things are going same, it means we are doing the same. It is time to do something different, so as to achieve a different result, that is curbing such attacks. Your thoughts on it? Asked by: Sandeep Rao

A. Immediately after the attack we have predictable responses. "zero-tolerance", "will leave no stone un-turned", "we will punish the guilty", these are standard responses. We need to build institutions and capability for coordination and effective and energetic action. An empowered national agency, professional training and adequate resources and equipment - all these backed by high motivation will achieve results.

Q. Sir, to what extent is the Govt (CM) responsible for this blast? Isn't it majorly intelligence and police issue ? Anyone can just go with bomb in a bag and blast it ! Nothing much in his hands to prevent them. What is your take? Asked by: Karthik

A. This is not a political issue. If politicians are to be blamed, they are guilty of bad appointments in senior positions in police, and frequent interference in police work. Both these need to be addressed by creating an independent, strong investigating agency. An equally important challenge is effective coordination, sharing of meaningful intelligence, preventive investigation, high degree of professional skills and vigorous prosecution. There is no magic wand. All these need to addressed systematically and quickly.

Q. Sir, can NCTC, NATGRID be useful in counter terrorism? What is your take on them (Is it against the principles of federalism as argued by some)? Asked by: Karthik

A. I am great supporter of states' powers and federalism. But invoking federalism to prevent anti-corruption law applicable to states, or opposition to effective, empowered NCTC - these are mere tough wars. The nation cannot be enfeebled in the name of federalism. The citizen cannot be at the mercy of terrorism or corruption in the name of the states' powers.

Q. Sir, as I have seen in the NEWS PAPER Central Government and State Governments are blaming each other. So how do you see this? Asked by: vvkumar

A. The recent warnings of GOI are too vague and general. But, if indeed Delhi police or GOI shared the October 2012 intelligence gathered after Syed Maqbool's arrest with the State, then there is failure of State police in acting on it. If such information was not shared, then Delhi police and GOI bungled. We must ascertain the truth and prevent future failures. In any case, as long as there are multiple agencies, the blame game will go on. They must be one agency as the focus of all responsibility and authority.

Q. How much is vote bank politics responsible for these kind of attacks not being stopped? Do you think police are given what they need to stop these attacks? Asked by: Ram

A. There may not be a direct link with vote-bank politics. But politicisation of police, protection known criminals with an eye on vote-banks, and criminalisation of politics - all these undermine the police morale and ability as well as the nation's capacity to fight terror.

Q. Do you think Vote-Bank politics is hurdle to prevent such crimes? Asked by: Shashi Kiran G M

A. There may not be a direct link with vote-bank politics. But politicisation of police, protection known criminals with an eye on vote-banks, and criminalisation of politics - all these undermine the police morale and ability as well as the nation's capacity to fight terror.

Q. Is high Indian population a real hinderance in tackling terrorist attack? Can we really stop them? Asked by: Ram prasad

A. We have to make our population an asset, not a liability. Even in countries with smaller population, cities are over crowded and are vulnerable to terrorist threats

Q. Do you think the Hate Speeches of Akbaruddin Owaisi and Asaduddin Owaisi help the terrorist organizations to recruit locals for such acts? Asked by: Shashi Kiran G M

A. There might not be a direct link. But it goes without saying every leader and responsible citizen must promote harmony and rule of law. Neither hate speeches nor disruption by bandhs will strengthen the nation. They will make it harder for us to counter threats.

Q. What actions are government taking to prevent terrorism? What policies do you feel will be effective? Asked by: Praveen

A. Governments have been doing a lot over the years to counter terrorism. Probably, 70-80% of attacks are prevented by effective advance action. But prevention does not make news. We need to keep on improving institutions and sharpening our weapons against terrorism. We'll have to live with this scourge for some more years. We must get better and better at countering terrorism, and we must prove that the nations will or strength will not be undermined by these attacks. That is the best guarantor of our safety.

Q. How is it that American citizens in Hyderabad received a warning email asking them to avoid busy and crowded areas in Hyderabad.... days before the blasts and the Indian government could do nothing to prevent them? Asked by: Vinay

A. In the light of recent developments, it does not require a genius to recognize that there could be a terrorist attack. The US govt simply shared their perception/information. Our Governments too must share information with people and promote awareness about simple precautions.

Q. Union home minister have given the statement that he warned the state govt 2-3 days earlier about the possibility of an attack. In such a large city will the police be able to find the attack before hand? Asked by: sai krishna

A. Unless the warning is specific, it will be difficult to act on it. Nevertheless, we must enhance our capabilities - functioning CCTV cameras at all vulnerable points, regular monitoring, promoting awareness among public, etc. But what is more disturbing is that it appears that a specific information available to Delhi police in October 2012 was either not passed on, or not acted upon. In either case, that is a glaring failure. We need to find out the truth and prevent future failures.

Q. Why does the government behave like insurance company always talking about compensation. A Hyderabadi can easily predict Dilshuknagar is a sensitive area based on the past experiences. Why couldn't our "Intelligence Dept" predict it or atleast alert people. Asked by: Navee

A. Please see other answers about prediction and warning. Certainly we need better intelligence and surveillance capability. But we cannot fault the govt for sanctioning ex-gratia to victims. Its the society's way of giving the tangible support to help them stand on their feet.

Q. Sir, what prevents the govt from taking strong steps to curb such menace? Asked by: Anurag Kejriwal

A. This is not something where you can flick a switch on, and everything is set right. We need carefully calibrated steps, well designed institutions and eternal vigilance. Even in the best governed societies, terrorist attacks may sometimes happen. Tearing each other apart is not a solution. We must all act together to face this monster.

Q. The US had one 9/11, India has 100s of mini 9/11s. After every terror attack. Our netas: condemn it and then compensate it with 2 Lakhs. What else can you expect when the rulers are too busy with scams and vote bank politics? 1 policeman for 761 citizens & 3 Cops for 1 VIP This is going to change or not? Asked by: Kranthi

A. Please see earlier answers. We need to take specific steps urgently to be able to counter terrorism more effectively. We also need to take steps to improve our politics and governance. One cannot wait for the other.

Q. Given that there was some evidence in some of the previous terrorist attacks, about the insider support (Indian citizens), in planning and logistics, how should we tackle this problem? On one hand, it is essential to identify the sleeper cells and other radical groups, but do you think, it is somehow related (indirectly) to the socio-economic conditions of certain sections of the society. Asked by: Karthik

A. In addition to NCTC, and better surveillance we also need to give our police more legal powers. Terrorism by definition is a stealthy, ghastly, inhuman crime without warning against innocent citizens. Therefore, normal criminal laws are not adequate to face these abnormal challenges. A strong anti-terrorism law with adequate safeguards is necessary. While we must be sensitive to the human rights of the accused, we should be equally concerned about the threats to the nation and the society and the rights of the innocent victims.

Q. I'm disappointed by the way how Indian media broadcasted the events, highlighting the unconfirmed assertions & numbers. What is your say on the way our media is heading towards? Asked by: Dharmendra

A. In this case, on the whole, the media acted with a fair amount of restraint and responsibility. In fact, they are the ones who alerted us about the October 2012 information with Delhi police and other significant facts. It would be good if they do not show gory scenes of blood and flesh, and they do not speculate about the number of dead, etc.

Q. 1. The issue lies with AP's ill-preparedness despite so many incidents. 2. The economic significance of Hyderabad coupled with high population density and also a large Muslim population makes it an ideal target. Your views? Asked by: Sadanand Gowda

A. Undoubtedly we need to be better prepared. In this day and age, if there are no functioning CCTVs at each vulnerable point, then we are not acting responsibly. intelligence, surveillance, preventive investigation, public awareness, police professionalism - all these need to be addressed.

Q. What is the role played by MIM in Hyderabad and the influence that they have? Asked by: Sandeep

A. There is no evidence whatsoever that any political party is behind the attacks. They maybe guilty of many other misdeeds - hate speech, provoking violence, disruption of public life, vote bank politics, etc. But it would be unfair to accuse parties of a direct role in terrorism.

Q. Sir, there is a speculation that there are some groups in Hyderabad which are sheltering terrorists. Are the police numb to them due to the fear of a larger communal violence. Asked by: sai krishna

A. Police are aware that a large number of sleeper-cells are operate in Hyd and other major cities. They are taking some preventive action. but more needs to be done, better equipment, a dedicated agency with adequate personnel, effective national coordination, relentless and energetic pursuit of terrorist cells - all these are needed.

Q. I believe it is failure of leadership, right at top of govt, taking a soft stance towards terror and continuously fighting graft that consumes govt energy and removes eyes from the ball, what is your view? Asked by: Srikanth Gonuguntla

A. A nation's morale is based on ethical and competent leadership, responsive and effective administration, and enlightened and participative citizens. We need to address all these issues but in the short term, the urgent steps to create an empowered national agency, to strengthen the laws against terrorism and to enhance police capabilities must be top priorities.

First Published: February 22, 2013, 5:03 PM IST
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