Stressing on the need to adopt a proactive approach in dealing with terrorism,Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday asked the state governments to return to the basics by strengthening the local intelligence network and investing in equipment and technology.
Addressing the day-long conference of chief ministers here,Chidambaram said the country must strive to achieve two goals: First,to raise the level of preparedness to meet the increasingly sophisticated terrorist threats,and second to enhance the speed and decisiveness of the response to a terrorist threat or a terrorist attack. He said this had to be achieved in a relatively short period of time.
The most important aspect of raising the level of preparedness and therefore strengthening the capability of the state to prevent terrorist strikes,Chidambaram said,was by improving the intelligence gathering and sharing mechanism. In this regard,he referred to the importance of intelligence gathered by the local police station.
As seasoned administrators,you will agree with me that nothing of consequence can happen within the jurisdiction of a police station without the knowledge of the Station House Officer. The local police station is the best source of intelligence, he said,adding that there was a pressing need to make the police stations the hub of intelligence gathering.
Keeping the local police station at the centre of the intelligence gathering machinery,we must find a way in which that intelligence can be made to flow seamlessly and in real time to the district headquarters,state capital and the national capital, he said,while urging the states to fill up the large number of vacancies currently existing in police stations.
On the issue of enhancing the speed and decisiveness of the response mechanism,Chidambaram urged the states to raise their own anti-terrorist forces for which the Centre would provide the necessary assistance. It would also be necessary to put in place a clear command structure in the case of a terrorist threat or a terrorist attack. There must be no ambiguity or confusion about who is in charge, he said.
Later,talking to reporters,Chidambaram sought to allay the fears of some of the state governments on the Centres move to set up the National Investigation Agency and amend the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. He said he had already promised in Parliament to relook at both these initiatives in due course.