Government may set up federal agency to battle terror: Minister

September 15th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) India will soon unveil “more focussed and dramatic measures” to battle terrorism by setting up a federal investigating agency or by restructuring the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a senior minister said Monday.Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan also denied that the Congress was soft on terror or that it pampered the minorities at the cost of the majority Hindu community.

“In a few weeks we expect to come out with more focused and dramatic measures,” Chavan told IANS in an exclusive interview. “Terrorism is a growing concern for the government. There is serious thinking on creating a separate Federal Investigating Agency dedicated to combating terrorism.

“Position papers on this have been circulated. The Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) too has had a look at it. We have to get a consensus across the states for creating this new agency. The prime minister may keep it under his charge or it could be with the home ministry,” he said.

“Another idea being actively considered is restructuring the CBI to enable it to have three separate wings.

“One will focus only on intelligence gathering in the context of terrorism and take appropriate preventive action; another will concentrate on economic crimes like money laundering, counterfeit currency and anti-corruption; while the third wing will on the request of states investigate and look into crimes beyond the capacity of the local police force.”

Chavan’s comments came after five bombs went off in three shopping districts in New Delhi Saturday, killing at least 21 people and injuring 100 people. The terror attack sparked off widespread criticism that the Congress-led government was unable to put an end to unceasing terrorist activity.

Chavan, who works in close consultation with the prime minister, blamed “people like (Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)” for alleging that the Congress was partial towards minorities.

“There is no question of being soft,” Chavan asserted to IANS.

The minister also insisted that bringing back the anti-terrorist legislation POTA - the BJP has promised to do that if it takes power - would not solve the problem of terrorism.

“When the (BJP-led government) was in power there was terrorism. On the other hand many innocents of a particular religion and community were persecuted (under POTA). So we did not think it was the right approach to fighting terrorism. The existing laws were adequate to fight terrorism.

“Terrorism is a big problem. Even the Americans could not foresee 9/11… Without a doubt we have to reinforce our intelligence set-up and adopt modern technologies to penetrate the terrorist outfits. Bringing back POTA will not solve the problem.”

Chavan explained the government was paying constant attention to improving the intelligence agencies. “Training people, getting latest gadgets and putting modern technology into the system and use takes time. It has been going on for some time now. We are also trying to co-ordinate with other secular democracies to fight terrorism.”

Asked if India was coordinating with the US to battle terrorism, he answered: “With America there has always been cooperation. This will continue. All secular states are one on the issue of a fight against terror and willing to join hands.”

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