High time for NCTC, we can't compromise national security

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Every time a terror attack causes blood-spilling on the roads in this country, a massive uproar follows. While the common people feel shell-shocked, the Opposition parties and the media roar for action, demand a retaliation against Pakistan and all terrorists backed by it and so on and so forth and the government of the day just try to save its face by making shaky statements in the Parliament that don't mean anything and condemn the dastardly acts. It's a routine affair that takes place every time and the nation prepares for an uncertain future.

Why there is no quick and substantial action to fight terror in this country? Why do we have to struggle to make sure that information reaches its destination on time? We often feel proud to be an emerging superpower and despite making all sorts of progress in the realm of communication technology, fail to connect on time. The result: Disaster strikes at will at our home.

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Post the Hyderabad blasts, what the home ministry should have done is to go all-out to settle the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) debate and make it a reality. The government must show some spirit in pursuing the case of NCTC the way it had fought for the nuclear deal or foreign direct investment in the past. Why doesn't the government consider social security as important as economic security?

We have seen how New Delhi needed to be woken up from slumber to address the issue of crime against women after the horrific gangrape case in the national capital in December. The same is happening in the case of terrorism despite that fact that the same Congress had seen the worst terror attack in this country taking place during its stay in power. Isn't the situation still not conducive for a strong move apart from meaningless bashing of Pakistan?

Terrorism is not a simple subject that can be dealt with by law and order agencies as if it is a case of nabbing a thief. It sounds bizarre when one says that the NCTC will only pave way to Centre's intervention in state matters like law and order. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj rightly said in the Parliament on Friday that terrorism isn't a law and order issue and full backing of the Centre is required to tackle this.

Given the frequent nature of terrorist strikes that the country is facing these days, bomb blasts can not be considered as stray incidents that could not be prevented just because of a one-time intelligence failure. We have seen how same groups are being suspected and accused of orchestrating a number of terror attacks across the country. And yet, there is no comprehensive plan in place to check the cycle of violence.

NCTC will affect federal structure: Can we have our priorities set please?

The Centre-state debate that is being raised by some chief ministers is nothing but reflection of deep division in our polity. Fourteen chief ministers raised concern against the NCTC, stating that it would threaten the federal structure. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Centre and the state must work together on the law and order problem. While other CMs stressed other technical details about how the NCTC should work and all. All these concerns are complete wastage of time and a sort of compromise with national security. Can we go on sacrificing lives of our fellow-Indians?

Political division is making the country pay dearly

Had our leaders succeeded in arriving at an agreement on a comprehensive counter-terror mechanism, the sorry confusion that we saw over the transfer of information about probable terror strikes between the Centre and state government in Andhra Pradesh could have been avoided. The BJP has been seeking a solid counter-terror mechanism but it had also expressed its distrust for the NCTC in the past. If mutual suspicion and prestige issue become matters of prime importance, how do we expect to meet a massive national threat called terrorism?

Home Ministry has been reduced to an info exchange shop

India's home ministry has been reduced to an exchange centre which only forwards information but has nothing to do apart from depending on the states, no matter how ill-equipped they are in handling terrorism. But when all quarters fail to prevent a disaster, it is the same home ministry and its officials who has to bear the brunt.

The terror network is turning increasingly complex with each passing day. Everyday, we see some new name cropping up in the news circuit as a new addition to the list of terrorists. How do we really counter this situation? Just with non-functioning rifles? Of course not.

Counter-terrorism mechanism involves more than just intelligence inputs

In fact, besides a powerful and effective intelligence, a comprehensive counter-terrorism framework should also include reconnaissance of socio-economic realities and foreign policy perspectives.

If theories that Afzal Guru's hanging was a reason behind the Hyderabad blasts, then there is definitely an element of truth in it. If there is a speculation that terror strikes were being planned to avenge the attack on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, there is no point in refuting it and believe that it is only Pakistan that is responsible for all our woes. The decision-makers must remember that India's surrounding is a volatile one and being a large country, it has a bigger stake to protect its territory and people.

We need to start somewhere, but what can be expected from Shinde?

But we need to start somewhere. Things are too messy at the moment. A large number of security agencies are on the ground but the necessary coordination is seriously lacking. A minister, completely misfit for the job, is found making controversial comment on 'Hindu terror' but when real terrorism strikes, finds himself totally unprepared.

US formed its NCTC because it values life of its citizens

And then there are the states which think the federal tenets of the country will be jeopardised if a centralised counter-terrorism mechanism is put into place. But these same states beg for central military assistance whenever there occurs a serious internal threat, like for example, Maoist insurgency. Why not legislate a new norm on security and hand over the responsibility straightaway to the Centre? Even the NCTC could be given constitutional backing if necessary. The Americans had set up their counter terrorism centre after the September 11 attacks.

We are still to find a way out of the mess. What a mess!

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