US report exposes gaps in India’s counterterrorism apparatus (Lead)

May 1st, 2009 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 1 (IANS) The Mumbai terror attacks have put the spotlight on how India’s outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems are hampering the country’s counterterrorism efforts, says a US State Department report.

“Although clearly committed to combating violent extremism, the Indian government’s counterterrorism efforts remained hampered by its outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems,” said the State Department’s annual report on global terrorism released Thursday.

The Mumbai attackers appeared to have been well-trained and took advantage of technology, such as Global Positioning System trackers.

But “local and state police proved to be poorly trained and equipped and lacked central control to coordinate an effective response”, said the report, exposing the inadequacies in India’s counter-terrorism apparatus.

The Mumbai “attack was the most recent in a long list of lethal terrorist incidents” in India in 2008. But “none of the perpetrators of these attacks has yet been prosecuted”, the report noted.

However, in response to the Mumbai attacks, India’s parliament has introduced legislation to restructure counterterrorism laws and proposed creating a National Investigative Agency to build a national-level ability to investigate and prosecute alleged terrorist activity, it noted.

Also in response to the Mumbai attacks, the Indian government amended some existing laws to strengthen the hands of security and law enforcement agencies in fighting terrorism.

Two themes have framed the public debate on the new legislation: states’ rights vs. federal power, and civil liberties vs. stronger law enforcement powers, the report noted.

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