Centre set to tweak counter-terror strategy: IB and NTRO mull special funds, changes in procurement policy

New Delhi: The government is working on an umbrella policy to counter terrorism with a proposed scheme for terror-related expenditure on the lines of security related expenditure in internal security budget. This will cover central and state security agencies expenses towards counter terror and radicalisation while introducing changes in procurement policy and bench-marking technology for security-related procurements with Intelligence Bureau (IB) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) as nodal departments for validation.

Documents reviewed by the Firstpost revealed that Ministry of Home Affairs asked the two central intelligence organisations to prepare a blueprint for the proposed scheme and states are being roped in to develop a system to undertake annual technology audit for the forces.

“The idea is to bring every state at par in counter-terror capability and to ensure hardening of the entire country to effectively counter the terrorist threats. Various facets of terrorism in hinterland is much more serious challenge for national security. Diverse means of sabotage and subversion, low cost nature of their operations using sleeper cells makes the job more difficult for agencies not fully prepared. There is a growing demand to have cheaper, dynamic and less obtrusive technology. There will also be provision of dedicated funds for state police forces to purchase required cyber tools and equipment’s by their special branches and installing jammers in jails. The funds will help in changing existing architecture and surveillance mechanism in sensitive prisons,” Sources said.

Representational image.

Representational image.

Another important proposal was to extend legal protection for undercover operations, both in cyber space and real world, based on the pattern that the US follows. The proposal to extend protection for undercover operations was first moved in 2015 but it was stalled for various reasons.

The government is also discussing possibilities of formulating ’National Encryption Policy’, enabling access to the encrypted communication channels for law enforcement agencies and standardising the format for sharing Internet protocol detail records by the telecom service providers. The proposed changes, government officials believe, would also take a leaf out of Maharashtra police’s counter terror strategy, which has raised an elite commando ‘Force One’ unit following 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

NTRO will hand-hold states for technical requirements while National Intelligence Grid will make the integrated database available to the state’s specialised forces. The National Police Academy will help with specialised and language training to police personnel and skill enhancement is to be provided by the central agencies. The assistance would be also be provided for standardisation of weapons and equipments.
According to sources, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the country’s central counter-terrorism law enforcement body,  has offered to conduct special courses for state police for experience sharing and imparting investigation skills in terror related cases.

"We are also looking into a demand for having a nodal help desk, functioning round-the-clock, for queries related to Whatsapp and other instant messaging application companies for making available relevant information to state’s law enforcement agencies," sources said, adding further that effective tackling of terror financing poses massive challenge and proposed changes would look into certain initiatives that is required from the Centre.

“The discussion on terror financing broadly examined twin aspects — those belonging to pre-digitisation and post-digitisation era. Hawala, fake currency is the example of the former whereas crypto currency and exploitation of new technology to wire ill-gotten proceeds mainly from East European, West African and Russian Axis are examples of the latter," sources said.

The government documents suggests that proposal in handling terror finances has been categorised under four heads — infrastructure set up, human resource development, partnership and coordination initiatives and cyber awareness campaigns. The Centre has asked the states to utilise services of four cyber forensic laboratories at Hyderabad, Gandhinagar, Kolkata and Chandigarh.

The proposal highlighted that there was tremendous scope to do much more as there were lots of gaps in Police preparedness in countering terror financing.

“There is a need to alter focus and approach from reactive to proactive, better coordination and collaborative mechanisms to bring all stakeholders together, developing core capacities for infrastructure, resources and skill development and improving support environment through a review of legal and regulatory framework,” the documents said.


Updated Date: Oct 23, 2018 10:29 AM

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