India overhauls national security after Mumbai attacks
Reforms arrive amid fears of additional attacks; India prepares to confront Pakistan over handling of terror suspects.
India's government has promised a major overhaul of its security apparatus following a public outcry over its handling of the Mumbai attacks. The changes include the creation of a federal investigative agency and more funding for intelligence agencies and coast guards. The government earlier admitted to lapses in intelligence and security work.Skip to next paragraph
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The revamp comes as Indian officials brace for more attacks by militants, who are believed to have been trained and equipped in Pakistan. India says the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible and has demanded that Pakistan dismantle it and detain its leaders.
Nine gunmen involved in the attack were killed by Indian security forces. On Thursday, a 10th man failed to appear in court in Mumbai and a judge granted a two-week extension in his detention. Police had raised security concerns about his appearance. Indian law allows police to hold suspects for some months before filing criminal charges.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was captured by police early in the attacks that began Nov. 26 and left some 171 people dead over three days of violence. He has been interrogated repeatedly by authorities, who say he has given up details of the plot and pointed to those responsible for its commission.
India's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, outlined Thursday to Parliament the steps being taken to beef up security, the BBC reports. Security measures include a coastal command, equipping intelligence agencies with advanced technology, opening 20 antiterrorism schools to train police and security officers, tougher money-laundering laws, and state-based commando forces to respond to any repeat attacks. He also promised to recruit more intelligence officers in the near future.
"We cannot go back to business as usual. We have to take hard decisions and prepare country and people to face the challenge of terrorism," Mr. Chidambaram, the newly appointed Indian interior minister, told parliament.
A retired senior Indian security official told Al Jazeera that greater intelligence coordination is needed at the state level and warned that there would be political consequences if the government failed to deliver. Prakash Singh is the former director general of India's national police force.
"It was felt that the interstate coordination - in the sharing of intelligence and in coordinating the investigative links in different states - was not there. Every state was pursuing its own line of investigation," Singh
told Al Jazeera.
"Some of these measures should be in position within the next month or so, like the setting-up of the federal investigation agency. All the government has to do is pass an ordinance until a law on the subject is enacted by the parliament.
"The government will have to move quickly or they will lose credibility and lose the next parliamentary election."