Saturday, December 27, 2008

Apathy deprives B'lore of NSG hub

Apathy deprives B'lore of NSG hub
From B S Arun and Deepak Upreti, DH News Service, New Delhi:
A combination of factors such as lack of political lobbying and aggressive bureaucratic push are being cited as the major reasons for Bangalore losing out on becoming a hub for the National Security Guard (NSG).

The tech city was the favourite for stationing the elite anti-terror commando force, but it has now given way to the neighbouring Hyderabad and Chennai.

Under fire after the Mumbai terror attacks, the Centre had stressed its intention of creating more NSG hubs, and Bangalore —high on the terror radar for years—was billed as one. However, when it was announced early this week, the garden city was missing from the list. Those that bagged the NSG centres, apart from the two southern cities, were Mumbai and Kolkata.

When Deccan Herald sought to find out the reason, Home Ministry sources indicated it was mainly to deal with lobbying. “Karnataka failed in it both politically and bureaucratically. On top of it, Karnataka is an Opposition-ruled state, while Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are not.

“With a spate of terrorist strikes in the immediate past, Bangalore has better justification to have an NSG hub than Chennai. The central location of Bangalore in the south of India also qualifies it for having the NSG base,” the sources said. Even though the Centre decided to create four new centres for the NSG, some security experts did not agree.

“Every state should have a highly skilled anti-terrorist force with training and ammunition provided by the Central government,” officials in the Home Ministry said.

“NSG hubs in four more places are not the effective solution for tackling terror in all the states.” They said the best anti-dote would be the creation of specialised state forces in states.

Officials at the North Block said even bureaucratic push was lacking. That Karnataka had a far junior IAS officer compared with the Union home secretary did not help matters. “This is no remark against the outgoing Karnataka Home Secretary Upendra Tripathy (1980 batch IAS officer). It always helps, if the state home secretary is a senior officer to talk directly to the Union home secretary (Madhukar Gupta-1971 batch)”.

Officials also said the Centre was unhappy that the top post at the State anti-terrorism cell had been lying vacant for quite some time, and its boss, Achuta Rao, went on protest leave after having differences with senior officers.

“Under all these circumstances, Bangalore losing out on the NSG is not really a big surprise,” official sources pointed out.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, former director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Joginder Singh said Karnataka had over one lakh police force and could easily raise 500 to 1000 strength anti-terrorist force.
“Why can’t they have a trained force like the Grey hounds of Andhra Pradesh”, said Singh, a former IPS officer of the Karnataka cadre.


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