26/11 anniversary: Are we any better prepared?



26/11 anniversary: Are we any better prepared?Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Barring the steely resolve of its citizenry, India appears gravely ill-prepared to tackle any major terror attack with its security infrastructure still in doldrums. This despite the gaping holes in the preparedness observed during the 26/11 terror attack three years ago on the financial capital of the country.

India, which is still struggling to deal with rising terrorism, seems falling behind on crucial fronts like manpower and communication equipments on the third anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai attack.

A detailed analysis of key official data pertaining to the security establishment as of 2009 and 2010 pointed to the following serious gaps: five lakh vacant jobs in state police on an all India basis and about 61 thousand vacant jobs in paramilitary forces, according to the 2009 Annual report of Bureau of Police Reforms Department (BPRD), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The government has not updated the information in public domain.
Worse, a comprehensive review of the police infrastructure in the country reveals a rather sad state of affairs. The 2009 annual report of BPRD shows that there were 210 police stations which didn’t have a telephone line and 46 police stations which didn’t have any wireless connection. As many as 34 police stations in the country neither had a telephone nor a wireless set.

Pitching for police reforms, MHA hasn’t issued specific guidelines about requirement of equipments in a police station across India. This even as there were express recommendations seeking an urgent up-gradation made in this regard by former senior police officer and now chairman of Transparency International, India PS Bawa. He conducted a study on minimum equipment and supply standards for different categories of police stations. The study, commissioned by BPRD, was completed in 2001.

The government’s failure to meet expert recommendations are borne out in an analysis of 2010 annual report of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) which reveals that only 12 out of every 100 policemen get motor vehicle, and only 5 out of 100 policemen get motor vehicle in country. It seems in the age of communication police is still behind as only 13 out of 100 police personnel gets a walkie-talkie.

The failure to implement positive changes in the police infrastructure obviously made the country far more vulnerable to terror attacks. As per the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the global terror tracking agency, while India in 2009 was second to Pakistan in number of terror attacks in South Asia, it stood third after Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2010.
India’s claims to fight terror under a coordinated strategy between various operational and intelligence wings dealing with terror post 26/11 also ring hollow today. K P Krishnan, Secretary, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC), said, “Lack of operational coordination among investigative agencies was the biggest problem.” He prescribed, "Government should marry all the investigative agencies together so that they can share data with one another. Without any more delay government should immediately start the proposed NATGRID project to avoid terrorist activities in the country."

While National Investigation Agency (NIA), set up post 26/11, has some cases cracked to its credit, other agencies proposed as part of anti-terror campaign in wake of Mumbai attack like National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking System (CCTNS) and National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) are yet to get off.