Cen­tre mulling mas­ter team to give na­tional se­cu­rity a boost

MHA look­ing at pro­posal for In­te­grated Law En­force­ment Cen­tres to tackle crime, ter­ror

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE - VIKRAM SHARMA

INDIA is con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal to set up In­te­grated Law En­force­ment Cen­tres (ILECs) to in­ves­ti­gate and check all cross-border and transna­tional crimes that have a di­rect bear­ing on na­tional se­cu­rity. The ini­tia­tive will be on the lines of Fron­tex of the Euro­pean Union, the Border Agency of the UK and the Department of Home­land Se­cu­rity of the US.

The new agency will bring to­gether per­son­nel from all law en­force­ment agen­cies and other stake­hold­ers to col­lab­o­ra­tively de­tect, reg­is­ter and in­ves­ti­gate cases re­lated to border crimes, par­tic­u­larly cross-border ter­ror­ism, smug­gling of arms and am­mu­ni­tion, traf­fick­ing in fake cur­rency, nar­cotics, cat­tle and en­dan­gered species and other transna­tional crimes.

Keen to im­ple­ment the pro­posal at the ear­li­est, Union Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh has set up a com­mit­tee of five se­nior of­fi­cials drawn from dif­fer­ent agen­cies to vet it.

The pro­posal was sub­mit­ted to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs (MHA) in the form of an ex­haus­tive re­port pre­pared by se­nior IPS of­fi­cer San­tosh Mehra, who is presently in­spec­tor-gen­eral of po­lice (per­son­nel) with the Border Se­cu­rity Force (BSF).

The In­te­grated Law En­force­ment Cen­tres will com­prise per­son­nel of the rel­e­vant border guard­ing force of the area — such as the BSF — In­tel­li­gence Bureau (IB), Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA), Spe­cial Bureau (Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing), Nar­cotics Con­trol Bureau (NCB), Direc­torate of Rev­enue In­tel­li­gence (DRI), En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED), Cus­toms, lo­cal po­lice, anti-traf­fick­ing cells, wildlife wing/bio­di­ver­sity wings of the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Forests and lin­guists/ in­ter­preters.

“In­te­grated Law En­force­ment Cen­tres will be sta­tioned at ex­ist­ing and pro­posed In­te­grated Check Posts (ICPs) es­tab­lished by the Land Port Author­i­ties of India un­der the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs. These cen­tres would be given the man­date for reg­is­ter­ing, in­ves­ti­gat­ing and dis­pos­ing all types of cross-border crimes with ju­ris­dic­tion clearly de­fined and co­in­cid­ing with Gov­ern­ment of India reg­u­la­tions with re­spect to Border Guard­ing Forces,” says the re­port, a copy of which was ac­cessed by The New In­dian Ex­press.

Though the BSF, Indo-Ti­betan Border Po­lice (ITBP) and Sashas­tra Seema Bal (SSB) have proved their worth in the face of ag­gres­sion by neigh­bours, when it comes to con­trol of day-to-day cross-border crimes, these forces have a lim­ited role to play. The ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments to con­trol cross-border crime have proved to be far from ad­e­quate, the San­tosh Mehra re­port points out.

INDIA’S border with Bangladesh runs 4,096 km, 3,323 km with Pak­istan, 1,751 km with Nepal and 1,643 km with Myan­mar.

Each presents a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge to the force guard­ing it and to the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on India’s border man­age­ment pre­pared by se­nior IPS of­fi­cer San­tosh Mehra, presently in­spec­tor-gen­eral of po­lice (per­son­nel) with the Border Se­cu­rity Force (BSF).

The re­port points out that border man­age­ment in India has been char­ac­terised by se­cu­rity am­biva­lence and lack of strate­gic think­ing. This is ev­i­dent from (a) the ab­sence of a pol­icy to check in­fil­tra­tion/il­le­gal mi­gra­tion from the eastern bor­ders; (b) in­abil­ity to stop or con­tain cross-border ter­ror­ism; and (c) traf­fick­ing in drugs and other con­tra­band in­clud­ing fake cur­rency.

The ge­o­mor­phol­ogy of India’s bor­ders, their his­tor­i­cal evo­lu­tion and le­gal sta­tus, the na­ture of cross-border so­cioe­co­nomic-eth­nic trans­ac­tions, and the na­ture of border con­trol and en­force­ment dif­fer along var­i­ous sec­tors of the border, the re­port states.

“Ac­cord­ingly, the crime pat­tern varies along the land bor­ders with dif­fer­ent neigh­bours. For ex­am­ple, the India-Bangladesh border is more por­ous in com­par­i­son to the India-Pak­istan border,” it says.

One key fact is that while sev­eral coun­tries share a border with India, few share one with each other. “In many in­stances, they are land­locked. For bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity with the out­side world, they are much de­pen­dent on India for con­nec­tiv­ity with a sea port or for tran­sit fa­cil­i­ties. Un­for­tu­nately, a lot of mis­trust pre­vails amongst the coun­tries of this re­gion and in­tra-re­gional trade is very low in com­par­i­son to the other re­gions of the world,” the re­port says.

Though the BSF, Indo-Ti­betan Border Po­lice (ITBP) and Sashas­tra Seema Bal (SSB) have proved their worth in the face of ag­gres­sion by neigh­bours, when it comes to con­trol of dayto-day cross-border crimes, these forces have a lim­ited role to play. The ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments to con­trol cross-border crime have proved to be in­ad­e­quate, the re­port points out.

“In fact, this as­pect has drawn less re­spon­sive­ness than re­quired. For ex­am­ple, to con­trol il­le­gal move­ment of peo­ple across the border, the Bureau of Im­mi­gra­tion (BOI) is the nodal agency of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. How­ever, be­cause of its lim­ited reach, BOI has check­ing fa­cil­i­ties at lim­ited ports and the job has been del­e­gated to the state po­lice.

“Sim­i­larly, the Pre­ven­tive Unit of Cus­toms is the nodal agency for con­trol­ling smug­gling. How­ever, their lim­ited staff are far from ad­e­quate to ex­er­cise such con­trol on land bor­ders. Most of the seizures on land bor­ders are by Border Guard­ing Forces,” it says.

As per the 11th Five-Year Plan, the Cen­tre has taken up the task of set­ting up in­te­grated check posts at 13 lo­ca­tions on the Indo-Pak­istan, Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bangladesh and In­doMyan­mar bor­ders. Some have been op­er­a­tionalised.

The re­port rec­om­mends the lo­ca­tion of multi-agency In­te­grated Law En­force­ment Cen­tres (ILECs) within this ar­chi­tec­ture, draw­ing per­son­nel from all de­part­ments man­dated to check cross-border crime. This would ob­vi­ate the need to have an of­fice for each such agency at each site.

How­ever, a se­nior of­fi­cial said that as law and or­der is a state sub­ject, it re­mains to be seen what role states will have over the ILECs. “A lot de­pends on the Cen­tre-state re­la­tion­ship,” he said, while point­ing out the la­cuna of re­ly­ing on state po­lice agen­cies, bur­dened by lack of re­sources and ex­per­tise, to han­dle cross-border and transna­tional crime.

Elab­o­rat­ing on this, the of­fi­cer said, “Af­ter an ar­rest or a seizure by a border force, such cases are handed over to the lo­cal po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion and fur­ther dis­posal. How­ever, these cases are given a sub-op­ti­mum pri­or­ity by the lo­cal po­lice.” The Mehra re­port also points out a sim­i­lar la­cuna.

“The in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments in deal­ing with cross­bor­der and transna­tional crime are sub-op­ti­mal in an era of ever-grow­ing com­plex­ity in such crimes. There are dif­fer­ent agen­cies ac­tive on the land bor­ders op­er­at­ing within the si­los of their spe­cific man­date striv­ing for agency-spe­cific mi­cro-level op­ti­mi­sa­tion with lesser de­gree of in­ter-agency co­op­er­a­tion, co­or­di­na­tion and com­ple­men­tar­ity. In fact, many a time, in­ter agency com­pe­ti­tion may lead to sub-op­ti­mal out­comes at the na­tional level. There are in­stances of both gaps as well as over­laps in the role, ju­ris­dic­tion and work­ing of the agen­cies. These old in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments ap­pear to be not sup­port­ing an evo­lu­tion in their man­date and work­ing style in the ev­er­chang­ing land­scape; and when­ever some changes are no­ticed, they are in­signif­i­cant and mostly in­cre­men­tal,” it states.

HEMANTA SINGHA

In the wake of the Ro­hingya refugee cri­sis, an In­dian jawan keeps vigil at the Myan­mar border in Ma­nipur |

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