The National Investigation Agency (NIA), set to celebrate its raising day Monday, is grappling with an acute shortage of manpower, often making do with makeshift arrangements while probing terror cases across the country.
After the new government at the Centre took charge in May, the NIA brought out a “Vision Document” for expanding counterterror infrastructure and beefing up its strength to around 2,000 officers and men over a period of five to seven years. The proposal has been pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs since. As it is, over 200 vacancies are yet to be filled against the NIA’s existing sanctioned strength of 850 officers and men — 618 posts are currently filled, sources said.
The NIA document proposes an expansion to six branches in Delhi, each with a minimum sanctioned strength of an SP, an additional SP, three deputy SPs, eight inspectors, eight sub-inspectors, 12 assistant sub-inspectors or head constables and 18 constables. Outlying NIA units (Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow and Mumbai) would have a proposed minimum strength of an SP, an ASP, five DSPs, seven inspectors, 11 sub inspectors, 18 ASIs, 13 head constables and 33 constables.
Other proposals include a central Counter-Terrorism Academy in Delhi, with a training centre, a centre for excellence in forensics, cyber forensics and explosions, as well as a think-tank for research on internal security issues.
The NIA also proposes independent intelligence and operations (I&O) divisions at the outlying units. During the annual conference of state police chiefs and heads of central police organisations in Guwahati in November, PM Narendra Modi stressed intelligence as being key to internal security.
With its current shortage, however, the NIA has had to divert some personnel from its I&O division to its administration division. “We were forced to pull out people from the I&O division to assign them administrative roles. There were no posts sanctioned for the administration department, yet there is a lot of human resource management required and administrative work in a new and expanding organisation,” an NIA source said.
“Dedicated staff are required for working out travel arrangements and logistics. A new HQ building has been sanctioned for the NIA in Delhi, and this requires a lot of coordination with multiple agencies such as the home ministry, NBCC (National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd) and municipal authorities,” said the officer.
An I&O division is meant to collect intelligence regarding scheduled offences that lead to registration of offences, and maintain a national digital repository on terror incidents.
Sources said that at present, there is a disproportionate allocation of resources across NIA branches. “The NIA strength is around 300 in Delhi, while in Hyderabad it is 99. In Kochi, which has a high workload with several cases in the trial stage, the strength is only around 20,” said an NIA source.
Officers said the NIA has become “top-heavy” since it was conceived as an “officer-oriented” agency like the CBI. However, what was actually required was for constables and inspectors to get their hands dirty in the field.
A senior home ministry official said the NIA’s proposal is under consideration even as a national counterterror policy is being finalised. “Before finalising the policy, all stakeholders will be consulted, and we will also seek comments from the states,” said the official.
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