Ajit Doval pitches for single counter-terror agency

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the National Investigation Agency(NIA)'s national conference of Chiefs of Anti-Terrorism Squad/ Special Task Force, in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI Photo)

National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on Monday pitched for a single counter-terrorism agency at national level while highlighting that various units were "not working in tandem" to tackle the scourge, a different approach by judiciary in dealing with terrorism cases and change in perception management strategy.

Addressing the national conference of chiefs of Anti-Terrorism Squads and Special Task Forces in the country, he said that there is a need for a convergence in intelligence gathering, investigation, physical action and judicial actions to tackle terrorism.

Doval said "proactive and preventive" intelligence gathering only lead to minimise actions while actions like encounter tackle the present problem.

"One problem is that these silos (intelligence gathering, investigation, physical action) do not merge. They don't work in tandem even when they work efficiently. The Army may be doing in Jammu and Kashmir, the RAW and Intelligence Bureau may be working in some other theatre or what the NIA is doing...but where is the connect?" he asked.

"My view for very long time is could there be a single counter-terrorism agency with all the three components integrated and merged. But for some reasons, it has not happened," he said. However, he said sometimes, state STFs are combining these aspects.

Another issue Doval highlighted was that of judiciary, which he said was treating terrorism cases at part with cases of ordinary crimes. "They apply the same benchmarks and standards. Building up a case, you need eye witnesses. From where do you bring eyewitnesses in terrorism cases. Firstly, there are few eyewitnesses in terrorism cases. It is very very difficult. For an ordinary citizen to depose against a dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammad or Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist," he said.

On media, he said it is a "very important" organ to fight terrorism and advocated a transparent media policy to be adopted by security agencies.

"Take the media into confidence. Since we don't tell them many things, probably, they speculate and this creates terror in society rather than preparing the society," he said adding perception management is an important part to fight terrorism.

Emphasising that somebody should be trained to handle media and give information on it, he said, inform the media about "why it has happened, how did it happen and what can be done, and what the government is doing. Probably they (media) would be very supportive. Whenever you take them into confidence, they are very very supportive. Frame a media policy."

Referring to Pakistan, he said, it is under a lot of pressure at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, which is currently under way in Paris. "One of the biggest pressure that is coming on Pakistan today is because of the procedure of the FATF, I guess. The FATF has put so much of pressure on them that no other action could have been so," he said.

He said investigators should collect correct, sustainable and quotable information on Pakistan-aided terrorism and this could be put before the international fora. "If a criminal has the support of a state, it becomes a great challenge. Some of the states have mastered this, in our case Pakistan has made it as an instrument of its state policy," he added. 

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