State Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief K P Raghuvanshi has given his officials a clear brief: Learn to be the Jack of all trades in intelligence,interrogation and technical and cyber investigations. After 26/11,the expectations of society have increased and so has our responsibility.
The ATS is revamping itself,the overhaul coming at a time when the Pradhan Committee report on 26/11 has laid bare the ambiguity in the units role and briefing protocol. The process includes the appointment of a dedicated DCP (Intelligence) and a shift of the agencys headquarters to a more strategic location in south Mumbai.
Raghuvanshi was also the first ATS chief and in temporary charge of the unit since 26/11. He has now taken over as Additional DGP (ATS) after the post of ATS chief was upgraded to that rank. He said he had held his first review meeting and given his officers the brief.
The state took over six months to appoint a new ATS chief after the death of Hemant Karkare,though the High Court had given a deadline of four weeks. Raghuvanshi took charge on Monday,the same day when the state tabled the action-to-be-taken report.
He would not comment on the ATR and the Pradhan Committee report but said the role of the ATS as a squad to probe terrorism has always been clear. Even the 26/11 probe would have been with the ATS had Hemant Karkare been alive, he said.
Our challenge now is to make the probe apparatus more effective to deal with that kind of challenge in the future,to strengthen our human intelligence,technical intelligence and investigation and interrogation capabilities and to increase peoples co-operation.
Recalling the initial days of the ATS,he said it only had 20 officials to probe terrorism across the state. Today,with the state having allotted 450 sanctioned posts,its scope is only increasing.
We have 60 per cent of posts filled. We get applications from many police officials but recruitment will involve stringent levels as the nature of the job has changed. He wants to ensure the best of intelligence gatherers and investigators join the ATS; recruitment is in progress.
Since 26/11,the ATS has been trying to fast-track a proposed,independent intelligence unit. The unit will be responsible for collating and analysing intelligence. It will be the nodal intelligence unit under a DCP-ranked officer reporting to the ATS chief.
An intelligence failure was one of the biggest lessons from 26/11 and Raghuvanshi says intelligence gathering capabilities will be accorded priority. On other areas,he said there are many experts and retired security officials across the country and within the state who are being called to train our men in interrogation styles,assault situations and other aspects including handling of cases that involve technical infrastructure.
Other developments that the ATS will see this year is a possible shift to new headquarters near the police controls in south Mumbai. Construction is on. In another year we should move our men to the new office.