India scoffs at Pakistan’s ‘denial’, sets up anti-terror agency (Roundup)

December 31st, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) Scoffing at Pakistan’s refusal to consider evidence of the Nov 26 Mumbai mayhem, India Wednesday spruced up its legal framework and intelligence gathering infrastructure for its fight against terrorism.President Pratibha Patil gave her assent to two anti-terror laws, including one to set up a National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe terrorist strikes.

Home Minister P. Chidambram kick-started the operation of a dormant cell within the Intelligence Bureau, created in December 2001 to coordinate the sharing of intelligence with various investigative agencies and state police forces.

Scoffing at Pakistan’s refusal to accept the veracity of the evidence of Pakistani nationals’ role in the Mumbai terrorist attack, Chidambaram wondered “what more evidence was required” after the father of the lone captured terroristm Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, had owned him up while speaking on a Pakistani television channel.

“If anyone is in the state of denial, then anything we give is denied,” Chidambaram, who completed one month as home minister, told reporters at his first formal press conference here.

“The fact is that Geo TV has admitted of interviewing Kasab’s father, who has admitted Kasab as his son. Kasab has also written a letter seeking legal assistance from Pakistan. Now, what more evidence does Pakistan require?” he asked.

Kasab was the lone terrorist captured by the security agencies during the Nov 26-29 attacks after he and nine other gunmen stormed key targets in Mumbai and killed over 170 people.

“The investigations into the Mumbai attack are in progress and are proceeding on right track,” Chidamabaram said.

The home minister also disclosed that the NIA came into being with President Patil giving her assent to the bill to set up the exclusive agency to probe crimes like terrorism, counterfeiting currency and drug trafficking.

“The president’s assent has just been received, so it has become law even as we speak,” Chidambaram told reporters, adding the president also gave her assent to another bill to make the existing anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, more stringent.

Maintaining that the government will be able to create the requisite infrastructure for the NIA soon, Chidambaram said the director general of the new agency will be appointed in the “next few days”.

“As and when any case is assigned to NIA, it will take up investigations,” he said.

The home minister said he also issued an executive order Wednesday to start the functioning of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) within the Intelligence Bureau (IB), lying dormant since its creation on Dec 6, 2001.

“The MAC was established in the IB in Dec 2001 as the nodal centre on all intelligence relating to terrorism. MAC has not been able to fully achieve its functioning,” said Chidambaram.

Detailing the measures to set up 20 counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools in the country to train security personnel, the home minister said he would soon seek the cabinet’s approval to establish NSG hubs, first in four metro cities and later in other key cities in a phased manner.

Chidambaram said the defence ministry, at the same time, will seek the cabinet’s approval to establish a costal command to secure the country’s coastline.

The home minister said his ministry has also taken steps to fill the vacancies in the IB.

Responding to a query on execution of 2001 parliament terror attack case convict Afzal Guru, he said the ministry was examining the case.

“There are 27 persons on the death row. Afzal Guru is one among them. We are examining it,” he said.

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