Even as the Ministry of Home Affairs has renewed efforts to set up a new Rs. 3,400-crore National Counter-Terrorism Centre, highly placed government sources told The Hindu that little effort had been made to address crippling shortages of capacity in the domestic intelligence service, the Intelligence Bureau, or in State police intelligence services.
The Ministry’s renewed push to set up a NCTC, driven by last week’s terror attacks in Hyderabad, is being criticised within the Intelligence Bureau as a wasteful effort.
“It’s plain silly,” a senior Intelligence Bureau officer said. “Instead of fixing the problems of the institutions we have, we’re committing to spend a fortune on creating yet another bureaucracy.”
Five years after the 26/11 attacks, the headquarters of the IB’s operations directorate in New Delhi — the cutting edge of the organisation’s counter-jihadist operations — makes do with just 30-odd analysts and field personnel, a tenth or less of the numbers employed at similar organisations across the world. Personnel shortages have also meant that small groups of counter-terrorism specialists set up at the IB’s State offices have often been committed to other forms of intelligence work.
In 2009, then Home Minister P. Chidambaram authorised the Intelligence Bureau to hire 6,000 new personnel, part-meeting long-standing human resource deficits in the organisation. The IB’s training facility, however, trains an estimated 600 staff each year. This barely covers the numbers of personnel who retire each year from the estimated 28,000-strong organisation.
A senior intelligence official said: “In all, I would estimate that our manpower has grown by just about 5% since 2009.”
Electronic intelligence gathering capacities, which have received massive investments since 26/11, are also less than optimal. The super-secret National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), intended to meet the technological needs of the intelligence services, has become a communications-intelligence empire in its own right. In addition, the NTRO has been beset by successive financial scandals “The IB desperately needs better technology for Internet monitoring,” an officer said. “The NTRO has it, but doesn’t use it in the ways operators on the ground need.”
Last year, the IB launched a large-scale effort to recruit personnel from the regions most affected by political violence and terrorism. New its chief, Asif Ibrahim, sources said, would be placing emphasis on improving human intelligence skills — in essence, focussing on penetrating terrorist groups rather than relying on technology alone.
SOURCE: THE HINDU