Dec 1, 2008

India - Federal agency to fight terror planned

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Sunday said it would pursue the setting up of a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and strengthen the legal framework in the fight against terror.

At the five-hour all-party meeting at his Race Course Road residence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government had finalised a set of legal measures based on the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission, which includes the setting up of an FIA.

He said the government would strengthen maritime and air security — this would involve the Navy, the Coast Guard and the coastal police as well as the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Ministry.

The counter-terrorist forces would be strengthened and streamlined, he said. The National Security Guard would get additional facilities. The size of the force was being augmented and steps had been taken to establish four NSG hubs in different parts of the country. Currently, the NSG is headquartered at Manesar, Gurgaon in Haryana, on the outskirts of Delhi.

Additionally, the special forces at the disposal of the Centre would be appropriately utilised in counter-insurgency operations, he said in his opening remarks at the meeting that was attended by leaders of different political parties.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh and Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani did not attend.

Participating on behalf of the BJP, Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra criticised the government’s handling of terrorism.

Not sufficient

He said the resignation of Home Minister Shivraj Patil was not sufficient, according to sources privy to discussions at the meeting.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh said the government should take immediate steps to send a strong message that the country was determined to fight terrorism.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said there was need for a coordination mechanism. However, the country faced different kinds of terrorism such as the north-eastern insurgency and stressed taking the States on board.

As for coastal security, the enforcement agency was not functioning as was required and mentioned the experience of Kerala. The party rejected any special law to fight terror in the wake of bitter experiences with the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Terrorists Disruptive Activities Act. He said, if need be, existing laws could be strengthened. On the involvement of Pakistan, he said, India should work with other countries to put pressure on Islamabad to act since the attacks in Mumbai were not just against Indians.

Bahujan Samaj Party representative Satish Mishra sought to know how the attacks took place even after intelligence warnings.

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