Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Aam admi agent

India’s intelligence fails because its vast resources lie unused.

The holes in our intelligence and security system were again exposed by the Delhi high court blast. We have intelligence about further attacks,and it is natural that we have tightened our security to prevent them. But can we be sure about preventing them? If an attack takes place,the Intelligence Bureau (IB) will claim it had already warned of the impending attack. People responsible for security will say they did not have specific intelligence reports about the exact venue and time of the attack.

So they will put the blame on intelligence failure.

Accurate intelligence is a pre-condition for preventing terror activities. Intelligence should not only be of a general nature. It must be accurate or almost accurate. To fight terror,we have to depend on accurate intelligence input; then comes the role of our security system. Unfortunately,our intelligence network is not well-equipped and prepared to provide us the right information at the right time.

Our intelligence fails because we don’t involve the “aam admi” in gathering intelligence. We have a lot of intelligence resources,but we don’t use them. The reason is the elitist approach of our babudom,where an ordinary person does not count for much. We have to change that approach and make use of the vast intelligence resources spread throughout our country.

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Railway stations are important from the viewpoint of fighting terror. Stations are themselves the targets of terrorists,who use railways as one of their main means of travel. People working at stations can be used to gather information about criminals. Coolies can play a crucial role. They deal with people daily. By lifting baggage,they can guess what’s inside. They can even guess the weight of a bag being carried by a passenger. Our intelligence department should consider them as a precious source of intelligence. They should be given the responsibility to give in information about suspicious packages. If a coolie gives a specific input and helps the intelligence system,he should be rewarded. Intelligence officials can take the coolies’ union into confidence and give them the additional job of intelligence-gathering.

Not just coolies,even janitors should be made responsible for intelligence-gathering. Vendors on the platform should be given the same job. There should be a continuous interaction between our intelligence officials and this vast resource of untapped informants. They should be given incentives and handsome rewards for providing any information helpful in fighting terror. On trains also,there are people who can work as intelligence providers. These are the people in pantry cars and other vendors,who go from one person to another. They should be given the responsibility of reporting any suspicious person,object or conversation. For this,they should be brought under the ambit of the IB.

Taxi and auto drivers as well as rickshaw pullers have a big potential to work as intelligence providers. Our intelligence department should talk to their unions and make them unofficial intelligence agents. They should be given the phone number of a competent intelligence officer and asked to report anything that seems unusual and suspicious.

In residential areas too,we have vast resources. There are kabaadiwallahs,vegetable vendors,plumbers and salesmen. They know a lot about the people of a locality. They should be asked to watch out for suspicious activities in the area. They should be made to understand that they are no more aam admi,but khaas admi,who do the special job of preventing terror attacks and other crimes.


Three years ago,terrorists entered Mumbai from the sea at a point where fishermen live. The fishermen may not have cared who they were,because of the disconnect between the aam admi and our intelligence system. Common people are always apprehensive of the police. They do not want to cooperate with them because they are afraid of being harassed.

Why not make the fishermen a resource of our intelligence system? They know a lot about what’s happening on the sea. If they are given the responsibility of intelligence-gathering and on forwarding the intelligence,and then action is taken,they will be glad to do their new job.

We face an unprecedented challenge from terrorists. So let us prepare ourselves through unprecedented measures. Terrorists have their network,but our intelligence network is far wider. It has crores of people. What we need is to tap their potential to gather intelligence and pass on to our intelligence department. I do not say that with their help,terrorism will come to an end,but I am sure it will help a lot and terror incidents can be reduced remarkably.


The writer is JD(U) president and convener of the NDA

First published on: 03-10-2011 at 00:11 IST
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