New Delhi, Dec.23: Proposing a ’’bold, thorough and radical restructuring’’ of the security architecture, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the new National Centre for Counter Terrorism will be set up by next year to effectively responding to terror attacks.
Presenting a road map "A New Architecture for India’s Security", Chidambaram said given the imperatives and the challenges of the times, "a division of the current functions of the Ministry of Home Affairs is unavoidable."
The NCTC tasks involve preventing a terror strike, containing an attack and effectively responding to it. "Such an organisation does not exist today. It has to be created from scratch," he said noting that the US was able to set up such a counter terrorism unit within 36 months of the 9/11 attacks".
Addressing officers and personnel of the Intelligence Bureau and top brass of para-military forces, he said, "The Home Minister should devote the whole of his/her time and energy to matters relating to security".
The Home Minister said the broad architecture of the new security system was an outcome of last year’s Mumbai attacks. "A billion plus people felt they had been humiliated and the country had been brought to its knees by a small band of terrorists," he recalled.
"I, therefore, propose a "bold, thorough and radical restructuring of the security architecture at the national level," the Home Minister said and added that it would consist of political, administrative, intelligence and enforcement elements.
Chidambaram said as far as responding to a terrorist attack is concerned, "we may have enhanced the capacity to contain and repulse an attack, but I think that there is still some distance to go before we can claim to have acquired the capacity to respond swiftly and decisively to a terror attack."
He said it was this assessment which led him to argue that the security architecture at the top must be thoroughly and radically restructured.
NCTC’s mandate should be to respond to violence unleashed by any group – be it an insurgent group in the North East or the CPI (Maoist) in the heartland of India or any group of religious fanatics anywhere in the country acting on their own or in concert with terrorists outside.He said the new organisation would therefore have to perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations.
While making it clear that some of the organisations may have to be brought under the ambit of NCTC, the Home Minister made a fervent plea that this should not result in turf wars.
"Some agencies would naturally have to be brought under NCTC and what come to my mind readily are NIA, NTRO, JIC, NCRB and the NSG.
As far as investigation is concerned, Government has set up the National Investigation Agency, and that agency would have to be brought under the overall control of NCTC.
The last function – operations – would of course be the most sensitive and difficult part to create and bring under the NCTC, Chidambaram said, adding "but I am clear in my mind that, without ‘operations’, NCTC and the security architecture that is needed will be incomplete. It is the proposed ‘operations’ wing of the NCTC that will give an edge – now absent – to our plans to counter terrorism."
Chidambaram said that the positioning of Research and Analysis Wing, Aviation Research centre and the CBI would have to be re-examined and a way would have to be found to place them under the oversight of NCTC to the extent that they deal with terrorism.
The Home Minister said the new organisation could be led by a police officer or a military officer who must be one who has impeccable professional credentials and the capacity to oversee intelligence, investigation and operations.
While the head of the NCTC will be the single person accountable to the country on all matters relating to internal security, the organisation would be at the command and control of Ministry of Home Affairs, he said.
Chidambaram said 12 to 13 terror attacks, which could have been like Mumbai or Delhi strikes, were neutralised in 2009 by security forces with better intelligence. "Luck was also in our side and we will have to be lucky every time," he said.
The Home Minister said the changes that are required to be made in case of a bifurcation are quite basic and simple. They can be done by providing more funds, tightening the administration and working on a time-bound plan.
"If our goal is just extracting a little more from the business as usual model, then these questions can be brushed aside or provided ’don’t rock the-boat’ answers. I am afraid that would be self-defeating.
"Sooner than you think, there may be another crisis like the hijack of IC-814 or another catastrophe like the Mumbai terror attacks. Hence, the time to act is now and I would spell the last word with capitals NOW," he said.
The Home Minister said while he was looking for a change of the system, there were two enemies -- routine and complacency.
"Routine is the enemy of innovation. Because we are immersed in routine tasks, we neglect the need for change and innovation.
"The second enemy is ‘complacency’. In a few days from today, 2009 will come to a close, and I sincerely hope that we may be able to claim that the year was free from terror attacks. However, there is the danger of a terror-free year inducing complacency, signs of which can be seen everywhere," he said.