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Countering terrorism in India – Some policy Suggestions

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Recent events in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, have once again highlighted India’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks. What is shocking is that despite the huge security machinery that exists in the country, the terrorists are striking at will on high-profile targets. Here are some short and long-term policy measures that can be taken up by the Indian government to combat the menace.

India has a total of 15,106.70 km of land border and a coastline of 7,516.60 km. Mainland region apart, it also has a total of 1,197 islands accounting for 2,094 km of additional coastline. India has a volatile neighborhood. Countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are beset by internal problems. The government must realize that all strategies to counter terrorism will fail unless measures are taken to stop infiltration and smuggling of narcotics (a major source of funding for the terrorist organizations) and arms & ammunition across India’s porous borders. To ensure this, vigilance must be stepped-up in the border areas and fencing of borders must be completed on a priority basis. To secure India’s seas, the Central Maritime Board should be constituted at the earliest to ensure greater coordination between the naval defence forces.

Terrorism, in recent times, has become an international issue. Constitution should be suitably amended to segregate terrorism from law & order. Law & order can remain a subject in the State List while terrorism should be included in the Union List. This will give more power to the union government and prevent the influence of local political leaders and other religious groups on the anti-terrorist operations and investigations that are carried out by the government agencies.

Government must strengthen its intelligence network which is critical to prevent terrorist attacks. Indian government should set up a central, joint intelligence agency on the lines of the unified armed forces command. Its role would be similar to role the CIA plays in the United States. All the intelligence inputs, gathered anywhere in India, should be routed to this central agency which can collate them and warn the concerned agencies.

A separate department, dealing specifically with anti-terrorist operations across the country, should be constituted in the Ministry of Home Affairs with units at the state level. This is necessary as terrorist modules have a long-trail stretching across several states. This trail must be destroyed completely. This move will also help in apprehending those who may not be directly involved in terrorist activities but provide shelter and funds to the members of the terrorist organizations.

A separate department should be created in the Ministry of External Affairs to deal with diplomatic aspects related to combating terrorism at international level. This department will coordinate with international agencies like Interpol and also deal with the issues like extradition & deportation of wanted terrorists, intelligence sharing, legal assistance and regional cooperation.

The police and para-military personnel should be given adequate training and be made well-equipped to deal with terrorist attacks. There have been many cases in the

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