New Delhi, May 22: When Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India a year back, a major concern on his mind was security. The country had become a virtual playground for several terrorist groups.
Read more: How Narendra Modi govt has done in 1 year
While home grown jihad had become one of the biggest concerns for the police and the security agencies, another threat looming large was the one from the ISIS which was threatening to take away at least 300 Indian youth into its fold.
How has Modi and his team handled the issue of internal security? One of the best possible decisions was to appoint a National Security Advisor who was part of the Intelligence Bureau instead of choosing a bureaucrat like the previous government had done to don this post.
Let us list out some key aspects that went into the handling of internal security in the past one year. Let us also look at what the challenges ahead are for the coming year too.
The appointment of the NSA:
It is a known fact that there has been a lot of trouble brewing within the IB and the R&AW. Lack of coordination led to major attacks in the country which included the 26/11 strikes as well.
There were ego clashes and the information that the IB had never would reach the R&AW and vice versa.
In Shiv Shankar Menon, the former NSA, one saw an extremely diplomatic approach. After all he was a diplomat of an IAS cadre. However Modi decided to go ahead an appoint Ajit Doval who spent all his life in the Intelligence Bureau and he understood the nitty grittys of the security set up.
Today there is a great amount of sanity in the spy agencies of India. All important decisions and inputs go through the NSA and due to this coordination the intelligence agencies are able to ascertain which intelligence is actionable and which is not.
Over the past couple of months the sharing of intelligence went down to each and every department. State level intelligence officials, the officials in the army, navy and coast guard all came on board and the sharing of inputs became mandatory. This has led to coordinated action which has helped thwart attempts being made by enemy nations in quick time.
The Burdwan blasts:
Although this was initially reported as a minor blast in a house in a remote corner of West Bengal, the investigations that followed showed how grave the threat was. It was not a run of the mill module of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh which was being run at Burdwan. The plan was to attack Bangladesh.
Had this module not been busted it would have been an embarrassing scenario for India. The country would have been blamed for facilitating terrorists in a bid to attack a foreign land. The same allegation that Pakistan gets to hear every now and then. Although there was a lot of opposition from West Bengal about the centre dealing with the probe, the government was adamant and handed it over to the NIA.
To convey that the blast had major repercussions, the NSA himself visited Burdwan. This was a loud message to the state of West Bengal. It also augured well with Bangladesh which had expressed concern about this module. The NIA too realized the seriousness of this attack and has probed this case in record time. Remember the NIA did not get to the best of starts as a lot of evidence was destroyed and the local police never cooperated at first.
Beating the Indian Mujahideen:
The Indian Mujahideen was one of the deadliest home grown outfits that India has seen till date. They struck at will and brought a nation to a stand still. Today it could be said that they have by and large been neutralized.
While one must remember that the leader of the outfit, Yasin Bhatkal was arrested during the previous regime in Delhi, the new government ensured that most of their modules were busted and this in turn made it very difficult for them to re-group. However the government is well aware that this is an ongoing operation and at no point in time can the security forces take it easy.
In addition to this the government has also ensured that groups such as the SIMI which have been making come back attempts have not been entirely successful. The key to this was not to go on a witch hunt for the sake of closing cases. Previous governments have targeted innocents and this has done more harm than good to the cause of fighting terror.
The boat from Pakistan:
In the month of December 2014, the coast guard intercepted an explosive laden boat from Pakistan. Before they could arrest the inmates of the boat, they decided to blow themselves up. This was questioned by many, but in reality it was a bonafide operation and a threat was thwarted.
What is important in this operation is that the various agencies worked in tandem with each other and the information was passed on in quick time.
This led to a quick interception of the boat. Similar coordination was not visible during the run up to the 26/11 attack and this cost the nation dear. The coast guard also recently intercepted another boat from Pakistan. This time around the boat was laden with drugs. While this is a one off incident it sends a message to the drug lords of Pakistan that the coast guard is awake.
The ISIS threat:
The manner in which the government has handled the ISIS threat has been appreciated and also criticized. There are a mindless few who feel that anyone trying to join the ISIS must be brought back from the airport and shot dead. There are many others who also feel that they should be allowed to leave the country.
The government instead took a very different approach to the problem. When the ISIS tracking by the Intelligence Bureau began last year, it was found that there were a large number of people who were trying to join the ISIS. By September 2014 the number was 300 and each one of them was placed under surveillance.
The IB also launched Operation Chakravyuh through which ISIS sympathizers were tracked. When they tried leaving the country, they were caught at the airport and brought back. Once back the elders of the family were also brought in and these youth counseled about the ill-effects of joining the ISIS. The results were clear and from a huge number of 300 in September 2014 it has come down to a meager 10 to 20 in March 2015.
In this context the NIA too has done a commendable job while preparing the chargesheet against Areeb Majeed, the recruit of the ISIS who came back to India. The NIA chargesheet does not attempt to sensationalise the issue. Instead it tells the story through Majeed about how bad the situation is in Iraq and Syria. The NIA hopes that this chargesheet would act as a deterrent.
While over all the approach towards the issue of internal security has been good, there could be certain questions raised about the Dawood Ibrahim issue. The recent statement in Parliament that the government does not know about the whereabouts of Dawood was nothing short of embarrassing.
Rajnath Singh had to come out and do some fire-fighting on the issue.
First and foremost the government knows that it is not that easy bringing Dawood back to India. He is a strategic asset in Pakistan and the ISI would do its best to protect him. On a lighter note since terrorists in Pakistan are for sale, India could strike a deal with Pakistan just as the Americans did with Osama.
However on a serious note, the Dawood issue is being handled differently today. The Enforcement Directorate in coordination with other agencies is trying to track down Dawood's finances in a bid to make him financially irrelevant.
Handle NIA better:
The Centre would also need to revisit the role of the NIA. Till date there is a tussle each time an incident of terror occurs in a state. The state governments refuse an NIA probe and the centre continues to insist. Finally the NIA comes into the picture three months later when there is not a trace of evidence left.
The NIA charter clearly states that it does not need to wait for an approval from the state before starting a probe. However the centre would argue that while that is the law it is not the spirit. However the centre would do well to implement the law instead of the spirit as terrorists normally thrive on such delays.