Raise level of vigilance, act swiftly against terror: ChidambaramJanuary 6th, 2009 - 2:31 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday exhorted chief ministers and the country’s top police brass to raise the level of preparedness to counter sophisticated terror attacks as well as enhance the speed and decisiveness of response mechanisms.”Thirty-six days into this office, I am more convinced than ever before that we have to set for ourselves two goals,” the home minister said while addressing a conference of chief ministers and directors general of police on internal security.
Pointing out that the Mumbai terror attack in November was the tipping point, Chidambaram, who has already introduced a raft of measures to hone national security, said the key to raising the level of preparedness was gathering and sharing intelligence.
“Fear saps the energy of the nation. The security of the people ranks above other considerations. Liberty and equality have meaning only if there is security,” he said.
“One of the first tasks that I undertook was to re-establish and empower the Multi Agency Centre (MAC). Beginning Jan 1, the MAC has begun to function on a 24×7 basis and is now legally obliged to share intelligence with all other agencies.”
Lamenting that state governments had not done enough to improve core policing, especially fill up gaping vacancies in their police forces, Chidambaram said the local police station was at the hub and the best source of intelligence.
“As seasoned administrators you will agree with me that nothing of consequence can happen within the jurisdiction of a police station without the knowledge of the station house officer. The local police station is the best source of intelligence,” he said.
As of Aug 1 last year, the home minister pointed out, vacancies existed for 113,779 constables, 18,654 sub-inspectors and 2,099 deputy superintendents of police across the country.
To hasten response mechanisms to terrorist strikes, Chidamabaram said the central government would set up hubs of the elite National Security Guard and as the first step would begin functioning in four cities.
“Some other cities will be covered by trained anti-terrorist forces provided by the defence forces. For example, Bengaluru will be covered by the army.”
More important, Chidambaram made a strong case for a proper command structure in the event of a terror attack.
“There must be no ambiguity or confusion about who is in-charge; who will have overall authority over the different forces; who will deploy the forces according to the needs of the situation; and who will be held accountable for the success of the operation,” he added.
The home minister, expected to travel to the US next week with a dossier of evidence compiled by Indian investigative agencies on the people who carried out the attack, has maintained that the evidence against Pakistan was overwhelming.