Key proposal dropped from India-US homeland security dialogue

An ambitious plan for exchange of information on terrorists on a real time basis between India and the US has been dropped from the proposed Homeland Security Dialogue to be held in June.

 New Delhi: An ambitious plan for exchange of information on terrorists on a real time basis between India and the US has been dropped from the proposed Homeland Security Dialogue to be held in June.

The Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6) is a model text agreement proposed by the United States to India for exchange of terrorist screening information between Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the US and an Indian agency.

There have been several rounds of discussions between the interlocutors of the US and India in the past one year and both sides have narrowed down their differences on several key issues with the aim of signing the pact in the next Homeland Security Dialogue to be attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his US counterpart Jeh Johnson and likely to be held in June.

However, the proposed agreement has been dropped from the agenda apparently due to the objections from Indian intelligence agencies.
 "It is taken off from the agenda," said a senior officer privy to the development.

The issue of setting up of TSC was not discussed at all during Tuesday's preparatory meeting attended by Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Homeland Security Alan Bersin and Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs M Gopal Reddy.

The US has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.

TSC is a multi agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watch list maintained by different US government agencies into single terrorist data base on terror suspects.

The data base include name of the terror suspect, nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any), passport number.

Sources said R&AW has agreed to the proposed draft in principle, the Intelligence Bureau has expressed reservation initially saying the arrangement primarily protects US interests.

Later, Indian security agencies came to the conclusion that there was no disadvantage in entering into the proposed pact with TSC and IB will be the nodal agency and be designated as the Indian party to the agreement.

It was agreed that while signing the pact, it must be ensured that privacy issues are taken care of with respect to the Indian position. 

Indian agencies suggested that in return of signing of the agreement, India must secure from the US side progress to the internet related data held by US-based services.

The US-India Homeland Security Dialogue takes place between India's Home Ministry and the US Department of Homeland Security to enhance homeland security cooperation and discuss building capacity in cyber security and critical infrastructure protection, countering illicit finance, global supply chain security, megacity policing, and science and technology.

These senior-level exchanges facilitate strategic homeland security partnership and enhanced operational cooperation in investigations, capacity building, and countering threats.

Law enforcement engagement proposals include sharing lessons learned and best practices in SWAT team training and responding to mass casualty exercises, improving both nations' capabilities to respond to terrorist incidents and natural disasters.