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Security on discount

Security on discount

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 7, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/154776/Security-on-discount.html

Congress packs agencies with its men

In the immediate aftermath of last November's terrible fidayeen attack on Mumbai, the Congress declared that it was determined to combat terrorism and make India a safer place for both its citizens and visitors. To demonstrate its determination, Mr Shivraj Patil was removed from the Ministry of Homes Affairs and this all-important portfolio was given to Mr P Chidambaram who, to his credit, did not waste any time in either amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 to mould it into a 'tough' anti-terror law or in setting up a National Investigating Agency with sweeping powers to probe terrorist activities anywhere in the country. Mr Chidambaram also got rid of deadwood in the security agencies -- among those shown the door, and rightly so, was Mr PC Haldar whose tenure as director of Intelligence Bureau was an unmitigated disaster. But having taken the first steps towards managing internal security in a more effective manner, the Congress has gone back to its old ways of packing crucial bodies and organisations with those to whom it owes favours. Therefore, it is not surprising that Mr Haldar, who helped convert IB into an extension counter of the Congress dedicated to the task of gathering 'political intelligence', should be rewarded for services rendered to the ruling party by being made a member of the Special Task Force on Terrorism, which has been set up to advise the Government on how to improve the internal security apparatus. It is inexplicable as to how a man who failed to provide the Government with real-time, actionable intelligence input because he was busy gathering political information for his patrons can make any effective contribution to fulfil the remit of the Special Task Force on Terrorism. Similarly, the Congress has been prompt in appointing its favourites to head the National Investigating Agency and the Research & Analysis Wing -- their abilities and qualifications for these super-speciality jobs remain a mystery. Worse, they have been given extended tenures; if the UPA is voted out of power in this year's general election, the new Government will be saddled with them. That's a nice way of ensuring continuity of Congress's policy of subverting agencies of the state to serve its own political interests.

Despite the huge loss of human lives in repeated terrorist attacks, India, it would seem, has not learned any lessons. Or else every effort would have been made to induct anti-terrorism experts who have a sound knowledge of the issues involved and are technically skilled to deal with a constantly changing scenario. There is absolutely no reason to nominate the senior-most bureaucrat or police officer to head any security or intelligence agency in this day and age. It is precisely such an approach that has hobbled India's war on terror and made us a soft target for terrorists of all hues. Indeed, the most compelling reason to overlook the 'natural' contenders for these jobs is that they are not in tune with the emerging realities of terrorism and are caught in a time-warp; worse, they are entirely dependent on subordinate staff for something as basic as sending and downloading e-mail or operating the computers that adorn their offices. They are no more than file-pushers for whom nothing matters more than the perquisites and privileges of office. It would be unfair to expect them to lead the war on terror or make a qualitative improvement in the internal security situation. And, it is unfair to expect the people to bear the cross for Government's folly.

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