Hyderabad on terror radar,counter-terror force in disarrayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/hyderabad-on-terror-radar-counterterror-force-in-disarray/

Hyderabad on terror radar,counter-terror force in disarray

For a city facing a terrorist threat,Hyderabad’s counter-terror mechanism is in a sorry state. Shortage...

For a city facing a terrorist threat,Hyderabad’s counter-terror mechanism is in a sorry state. Shortage of personnel and resources has crippled the elite counter-terror force,Organisation to Counter Terrorist Operations (Octopus). About 20 months after it was established,Octopus has only 150 to 200 personnel,against the 1,590 personnel originally planned. Besides being an elite anti-terror commando force,it was tasked with gathering intelligence and investigating terror-related incidents.

An Additional Director General of Police was to head the agency but the government has now decided give the job to an IG-rank officer. ADG A K Mohanty,who was initially appointed to head Octopus,was drawn into a power struggle with Intelligence chief K Aravinda Rao and DGP SSP Yadav that eventually led to his ouster barely six months into the job.

“Mohanty wanted to keep Octopus free of interference from Intelligence chief K Aravinda Rao and other senior officers. Aravinda Rao wanted the Octopus chief to report to him so that his own post as chief of Intelligence is not undermined. Mohanty complained to the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary,but instead of backing him,the Government decided to shift him. To avoid further confrontation between the top cops,the Government scaled down the post of head of Octopus to IG level,” an officer posted with Octopus said.

Officials said the process of deputing personnel to Octopus was very slow and stopped altogether a few months before the polls. Octopus chief D Thirumala Rao said the force is operating with just over 10 per cent of the sanctioned manpower. “Fortunately,we haven’t had to conduct any anti-terror operations till now. But in spite of the resource crunch,we have a good intelligence network and a vast databank,” Rao said.

If that were not worrying enough,the tussle between DGP S S P Yadav and ADGP (Intelligence) K Aravinda Rao is also damaging Octopus. “Rao wants to keep things in Octopus under his control. The DGP is happy to let Octopus remain as it is so that Rao’s clout does not increase. The elections ensured that the Government did not intervene as it did not want to antagonise either of the officers,” an official said.