Bureaucrats must share blame for terror mayhem: experts

December 4th, 2008 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) Every time terrorists have struck India, fingers have been pointed at the security establishment for failing in its primary task. But are bureaucrats not equally responsible?Many experts believe that bureaucrats and politicians should be made accountable for the delays and lapses in the administrative system that cost the country hundreds of lives.

Joginder Singh, former chief of the India’s elite investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said it was a travesty of Indian democracy that important issues were being handled by people who had no knowledge of them.

“Files are caught in red tapism. The bureaucrats are given power just to say no,” Singh told IANS.

“The bureaucrats make decisions only after some terror attack. They sanctioned the posts of 17,000 policemen to Delhi Police only after the September serial blasts in the capital while the proposal had been pending with the home ministry for over a decade.

“Posts which had been lying vacant in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for years were sanctioned only after the Delhi blasts. Similarly, a proposal to strengthen the sea ring only saw light after the Mumbai terror strikes,” he said.

A senior Delhi Police official admitted that the proposal to increase the force’s strength had been pending approval from the home and finance ministries for the past decade. But the clearance came after the Sep 13 blasts.

“We had asked for 17,000 policemen, but they gave only 7,000 and again made a promise for the remaining 10,000 in the near future. How do you expect intelligence gathering with just a handful of staff?” the official asked.

This year India has seen major terror attacks from the Jaipur serial blasts in May to the Bangalore and Ahmedabad blasts in July to the Delhi blasts in September and finally, the Mumbai terror attack in November. Over 400 people have been killed and at least 1,000 injured in these strikes.

Like always, the blame has been shifted to intelligence gathering. But experts say bureaucrats are as much at fault.

For instance, the Maharashtra government did not react to the coastal security scheme prepared by former additional director-general of police V.N. Deshmukh for nearly three years.

Desmukh, who served in the IB and retired as commissioner (intelligence), in his report suggested the setting up of 52 police stations along the coast of Maharashtra and the purchase of speedboats for patrolling, interceptors and sophisticated arms like Kalashnikovs.

The state government took a prompt decision only after the Mumbai terror strikes that saw a 60-hour bloodbath, claiming over 180 lives. The central government gave its nod to the purchase of aircraft for the National Security Guard (NSG) only after it came under heavy criticism due to delay in operations.

“Bureaucrats sit over projects and proposals to strengthen the police forces and the intelligence mechanism for years without reason. They are not aware of the real problems and ground realities. They make decisions on their own,” Prakash Singh, the former director general of Uttar Pradesh police and Border Security Force, told IANS.

“They have become insensitive to these attacks and live in their own world. A majority of them are callous and inefficient. They think they are supermen, elite and have super powers,” Prakash Singh added.

He said the entire system is responsible for letting the attacks happen.

“Politicians and bureaucrats’ accountability should be fixed. It can only be done by public and media pressure as both these work hand in gloves,” he said.

Major General (retd) V.K. Singh, who retired from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) - India’s foreign intelligence agency - said bureaucrats should be held responsible for not providing the required infrastructure to the security establishment.

“But the main culprits are the Intelligence Bureau and RAW which have time and again failed in their prime job of intelligence gathering. These are the only agencies that have no dearth of money and have the best available equipment in the world,” said V.K. Singh.

“Even when our defence forces are accountable to the parliamentary committee, both the IB and RAW are outside its purview as well as that of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).”

“The day they (IB and RAW) are made accountable to parliament for their actions and the money spent, we will see more discipline among the officials and perhaps would be able to crack down on terrorists before time. At present, no one is sacked for indiscipline and failure in their duty,” he added.

Joginder Singh said along with the home minister some bureaucrats should also be made accountable and they must go.

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