Enhancing inter-agency efforts helped India avert terror attacks

Sumit Kumar Singh

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) India has averted a large scale terror attack since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008 by identifying and ending coordination barriers and implementing strategies and mechanisms to facilitate inter-agency efforts.
The lack of mechanisms for sharing confidential data among agencies; lack of federal guidance with regard to inter-agency coordination; lack of clarity among federal, state and local responders with respect to chain of command and differing agency structures were some of the commonly reported barriers to inter-agency coordination. Post the 26/11 attacks, the Indian government resolved these issues swiftly and extensively.
Back-to-back terror attacks across India in the last decade highlighted that there was lack of communication and coordination between the law enforcement bodies and other agencies of the government for covering emergency preparedness and response. Post the Mumbai attacks, there has been a discernible improvement in counter-terrorism mechanisms.
Intelligence capabilities
Timely intelligence can do much to reduce risks to national security. Following the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, it was alleged that there was intelligence failure and also a lack of ability to communicate information to the other agencies.
Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief A.S. Dulat told IANS that there was no intelligence failure back then. “There was intelligence input and it was conveyed to the right security establishment back then,” he said.
Now, the Indian government has improved intelligence gathering mechanisms and enhanced inter-agency coordination with strengthening of multi-agency coordination centres (MACC) and subsidiary multi-agency coordination centres (SMACC).
Coastal security strengthening
After the Mumbai attacks exposed maritime security, the government has strengthened the coastal security apparatus.
Indian Navy is now primarily responsible for ensuring security of areas beyond 12 nautical miles. It will be assisted by the Indian Coast Guard, which is responsible for the security between five and 12 nautical miles. The government has also set up marine police that now ensure security from the shore to five nautical miles.
Social media
Pakistan-based terror organisations were making use of social media platforms to spread their ideology and carry out recruitments. The impact can be seen in Kashmir. Now, India’s security establishments have created effective counter-narratives and build an environment that does not lead to radicalisation. The government is now strongly and intelligently dealing with radicalisation.
Improved capabilities
The government has also improved the capabilities of the local anti-terror units across the country. The first responder to any terror attack is local police. The government has brought various police reforms and has also equipped the personnel with the latest arms and gadgets to engage the terrorists.
Back then, the National Security Guard (NSG), an elite counter-terrorism unit, had to wait for eight hours at the airport to get an aircraft during the 26/11 attacks. But things have changed now.
“Then as Director General of NSG, I did not have the power to requisition an aircraft. I could only do that in a hijacking scenario. Now the rules have changed. The DG now has the power to requisition aircraft from any operator registered in India in the interest of public safety and public service,” former NSG Director J.K. Dutt told IANS.
About enhancement of the capabilities of the force, Dutt said, “We have got new equipment. We have got new vehicles. These all contribute a lot during counter-terrorism operations.”
Further, the government has also increased NSG deployment at vulnerable places. Further, the NSG is also involved in capacity building of the local police through joint exercises.
The government has also set up a mechanism to swiftly take decisions in times of crisis. The best example was India attacking terrorist camps in Balakot in Pakistan after the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir in February 2019.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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