India has announced a massive overhaul of the country's security and intelligence agencies in the wake of the Mumbai attacks last month. The proposed measures include improving coastal security, creating a national investigation agency, and better training for local police. The measures are the government's first detailed response to the public outcry over security and intelligence failures in the attacks that killed over 170 people.
Indian policemen taking cover behind a police vehicle during last month's Mumbai attacks
A national investigation agency, new counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools and the creation of a coastal command were among the measures India announced Thursday to avoid another Mumbai, while categorically stating that it could not be "business as usual" with Pakistan.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani were amongst the leaders who spoke in the Lok Sabha, the lower house, on the 60-hour Mumbai siege in which more than 170 people were killed and stressed that the nation was one in this war against terror.
India urges Pakistan to act
Underlining that the Mumbai attacks were not an expression of the India-Pakistan problem but part of global terror, New Delhi made it clear that it was not ready to be provoked by propaganda and vowed that it would take resolute action to send out the message that nobody dared attack India.
“Non-state players are operating from a particular country. What we are most respectfully submitting is suggesting to the government of Pakistan. Please Act. Expression of intent is not adequate”, said Mukherjee in a hard hitting speech.
India, Mukherjee said, wanted Pakistan to hand over 40 people it believes are behind militant attacks and other crimes but ruled out military action against its neighbour as a solution.
Better co-ordination of intelligence needed
Hoping to plug gaps in the intelligence and security apparatus especially after the government has come under fire for preventing recurrent terror attacks, Home Minister P. Chidambaram while unveiling the anti-terror reforms also asserted that India could not go back to "business as usual" with Pakistan whom he blamed squarely.
Speaking in parliament for the first time after he took over on December the 1st, Chidambaram admitted that intelligence reports of a suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) vessel attempting to infiltrate into Mumbai was shared with the Coast Guard as well as the naval intelligence.
He emphasised that there was need to make the intelligence machinery "effective" and "result-oriented" and said time had come to take hard decisions to prepare the country and people to face the challenge of terrorism.
New enforcement units to be established
Referring to the intelligence machinery Chidambaram said the basic structure was sound but there was a need to make intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing more effective and result oriented.
He also hopes to introduce a set of Bills for the prevention and punishment of terror acts as well as set up a national investigation agency. "I urge this house to consider and pass these Bills in this session”, Chidambaram added.
The government has also decided to create a Coastal Command for overall supervision and coordination of maritime and coastal security. Besides it was also decided to set up 20 counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools in different parts of the country for training the commando units of State police forces.
At a time when the government was preparing the country and the people to face new challenges of terror, all political parties assured the government of support in all decisions aimed at rooting out terrorism.