Why intel is vital

IN PERSPECTIVE

The fact that the IT major Infosys which has several foreign heads of state visit its campus feels confident only with Central Industrial Security Force cover speaks volumes about the ability of the state government to ensure an appropriate law and order environment.

Karnataka, as an industrially advanced state, cannot afford to have a weak law and order environment which would adversely impact its economy. Domestic or foreign companies which intend to make industrial investments in plant and machinery seek a stable law and order climate, among myriad other aspects.

The MNCs seek a friendly business environment which entails political stability, law and order, physical security, good infrastructure, residential housing and skilled human resources. The responsibility of the state government is to provide proper police protection and ensure effective politico-bureaucratic decision making to avert untoward developments that cause loss of property, life and limb due to breakdown of law and order.

The fact that the IT major Infosys which has several foreign heads of state visit its campus feels confident only with Central Industrial Security Force cover speaks volumes about the ability of the state government to ensure an appropriate law and order environment.

The Ministry of Home Affairs deploys central armed police forces to aid the State police to impose peace in the affected areas. Invariably the Centre avoids blame for not coming to the assistance of the state.  This enables the state government to steer clear of responsibility for any possible wrongdoing that may occur.

The role of the Intelligence Department of the Karnataka State Police is to keep its eyes and ears open and assess developments that have the potential to lead to a breakdown of law and order anywhere in the state.

The recent breakdown of law and order in parts of Karnataka, after the arrest of Congress leader D K Shivakumar caught the Karnataka State Police unawares, which is emblematic of an intelligence failure or perhaps ineffective politico-bureaucratic decision-making.

In this case, the Congress strongman’s supporters torched six buses at Kanakapura and blocked roads in Ramanagara and elsewhere. The lives of daily wage earners, like the autorickshaw/taxi drivers, vegetable vendors, migrant labourers, students, small shops, eateries and restaurants — all faced hardship due to state’s failure.

Sometimes, the Intelligence Department advises the government about the potential troubles which the political leadership chooses to ignore. For instance, in the Tipu Jayanti celebrated across Karnataka in November 2015 led to an outbreak of violence in Kodagu district.

This despite an advisory from the Central agencies to the state government not to hold the celebration which went unheeded with a view to instigating communal tensions aimed to polarise religious communities.

Today, the State Intelligence Department of the Karnataka State Police constitutes 200 sub-inspectors, nearly all of them on deputation from various government agencies. An Additional DGP-rank officer heads the Department with almost 650 personnel, which includes an IGP, two Deputy IGPs and five SPs. The Department reports directly to the chief minister which implies its importance.

The Intelligence Department has a Political Desk, Communal Desk, Labour and Services Desk, Students and Teachers Desk, Ryoths Desk and Foreigners Desk. The aim of this structure is to ensure that problems in each of these areas are adequately monitored and should not escalate to disturb the peace and harmony prevalent in the state.

The Intelligence Department was taken by surprise in April 2016 when garment workers in Bengaluru and surrounding areas staged peaceful protests over a Provident Fund notification and blocked the highway which led to police brutality.

Also, the Karnataka State Police was unprepared when widespread violence broke out in southern Karnataka in September 2016 over the Supreme Court order to release Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu. Protesters torched over 30 buses in a Tamil-owned bus depot in Bengaluru. 

Police failure

Other instances of Karnataka State Police failure to prevent the breakdown of law and order were in September 2015 when a Ganesha idol immersion procession turned violent in Belagavi district. In April 2006, celebrity cine star Raj Kumar’s death led to a breakdown of law and order across the state and the lynching of a police constable.

The many MNCs across the country hire risk analysts to actively monitor threats and concerns on the horizon that could disrupt the peace and harmony and impact their business operations.

Violent protests in Bengaluru or other major cities have major implications for the business environment. The moment a threat is flagged, MNCs quickly go into planning critical business operations from a business continuity perspective. To that extent, any breakdown in the law and order situation disturbs the MNCs’ focus on their business operations.

Karnataka, with six crore population, has just 650 police personnel in its Intelligence Department which proves grossly inadequate to generate advance intelligence for the political leadership to take quick decisions.

Hopefully, with the newly established Intelligence cadre in the Karnataka State Police, the degree of professionalism should be able to provide policymakers advance intelligence about political, economic and social developments that have a bearing on the security and law and order in the state.  

(The writer is Professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Christ Deemed to be University, Bengaluru)

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