Four questions for the Home Minister.
Qn #1: Where is the CCTNS?
Realising the gross deficiency in connectivity between police stations, the Central Government decided to implement an ambitious scheme called “Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS).” It was conceived on 7th May, 2008 as per MHA’s letter No. IV.24021/2/08-PM-I dated 7th May 2008, well before the Mumbai terror strike. The goals of the system were to facilitate collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at the police station and between the police station and the State Headquarters and the Central Police Organisations.
The progress report of the CCTNS at the NCRB website (here) tells that the project is yet to see the light of the day. Why?
Qn #2: Where is the NCTC?
The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) ws to be set up with the broad mandate to deal with all kinds of terrorist violence directed against the country and the people. As the name suggests, the goal is to counter terrorism. This was to include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place, and responding to a terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators. NCTC was to therefore have to perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations. As per the proposal, while the nature of the response to different kinds of terror has to be different and nuanced, NCTC’s mandate would be to respond to violence unleashed by any group – be it an insurgent group in the North East or the CPI (Maoist) in the heartland of India or any group of religious fanatics anywhere in India acting on their own or in concert with terrorists outside India.
The United States was able to create the NCTC from scratch within 36 months of September 11, 2001. You had promised that India must succeed in setting up the NCTC by the end of 2010 but your recently retired Home Secretary accepts that the NCTC is in a limbo, with the proposal not even approved by the government so far. Why?
Qn #3: Where is the NATGRID?
NATGRID, an umbrella organisation of investigating agencies to provide quick-time response to the demand for information on suspected terrorists and offenders of the law. It was meant to be the basic foundation over which the “new architecture of India’s security” promised by you had to take shape. Under NATGRID, 21 sets of databases are to be networked to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence/enforcement agencies.
You had promised in December 2009 that this project was likely to be completed in 18 – 24 months from then. However, only the in-principle approval for the first phase of the project has been given by the Union Cabinet last month. Why?
Qn #4: Where is the Ministry of Internal Security?
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) performs a number of functions that have no direct relation to internal security. For example, it has a division dealing with freedom fighters but it does not have even a desk for dealing exclusively with forensic science. There are other divisions or desks that deal with Centre-State Relations, State Legislation, Human Rights, Union Territories, Disaster Management, Census among other subjects. Internal security is a more important function that deserves the highest attention.
Late K Subrahmanyam had strongly advocated the the setting up of a ministry — under the charge of a Cabinet Minister — that would be dedicated to internal security. He opined that internal security should not be part of the Home Ministry’s responsibilities. Just as we have a ministry for external security, which is the Ministry of Defence, India needs a Ministry for Internal Security.
In 2009, you had suggested that subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate Ministry or should be brought under a separate Department in the MHA and dealt with by a Minister, more or less independently, without referring every issue to the Home Minister. The Home Minister should devote the whole of his/her time and energy to matters relating to security. Evidently, there has been no progress on this promise so far. Why?