Anti-terror laws in India

  • With the spurt in terrorism India enacted appropriate and stringent anti-terrorism law. However, some of these legislations were allowed to lapse/repeal as it was contended that powers conferred on law enforcement agencies had the potential, and in fact, had been misused.
  • National Security act 1980:Empowers Union Government or State Governments to detain a person to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India.
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967:Enacted to provide for more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for matters connected with it. It empowered appropriate authorities to declare any association as ‘unlawful’ if it is carrying out ‘unlawful activities. This law was comprehensively amended to deal with terrorist activities.

Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA)

  • Since the lapse of TADA, the country witnessed several terrorist incidents –including hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandahar in 1999 and the assault on Parliament on December 13, 2001. Therefore, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 came into force. However, it was controversial on various aspects and was challenges in supreme court in the people’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India, on the ground that the law violated basic human rights. The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of the law while stipulating some restrictions on the arbitrary use of certain powers.

However, government repealed POTA as it felt that its provisions were misused by some State Governments and that the Act had failed to serve its intended purpose.

26/11 and changes Thereafter

Despite frequency of terror attacks that had struck India in the years leading up to 26 November 2008, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks marked a watershed moment in how the country witnessed and responded to terrorist attacks. In less reflective of accounts of the tragedy, it would be known as India’s 9/11 moment. India emerged more resolute and less accepting of incidents of senseless violence that had one aim: to strike fear. Here is look at the changes that took place after 26/11. The terror preparedness of India has improved with following steps.

  • National Investigating Agency Act: NIA was created after 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised. The NIA aims to be a thoroughly professional investigative agency matching best international standards. NIA aims to set the standards of excellence in counterterrorism and other national security related investigations at national level by developing into a highly trained, partnership-oriented workforce. NIA aims at creating deterrence for existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals. Aims to develop as a storehouse of all terrorists related information.
  • NATGRID(National Intelligence Grid): NATGRID is an ambitious counter terrorism mechanism, which will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.

A post Mumbai 26/11 attack measure, NATGRID aims to mitigate a vital deficiency — lack of real time information, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley’s movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009.

NATGRID’s data sources include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions and telecommunications. The agencies concerned include the Intelligence Bureau, local police and revenue and customs departments. 

According to the Union Home Ministry proposal, the NATGRID, which is still in a nascent stage, will connect, in different phases, data providing organisations and users besides developing a legal structure through which information can be accessed by the law enforcement agencies. 

  • Four National Security guard (NSG) Hubs: NSG was set up in 1984 as a Federal Contingency Deployment Force to tackle all facets of terrorism in India. As a specialized counter terrorism force, it is intended for use “only in exceptional situations”.
  • Government has established four Regional Hubs of National Security Guard (NSG) at Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
  • Counterinsurgency & Anti-Terrorism Schools: It has been decided to set up 20 counter Insurgency and Anti-terrorist Schools (CIATs) in the states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal and Tripura. Out of these, 13 Schools have already been set up and are functional. police personnel will be trained for combating terrorism/Naxalism.
  • Amendments to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA): UAPA act was amended in 2008 and 2012 to deal with terrorist crimes. Its scope was expanded to tackle terror financing and to make it more effective in preventing unlawful activities, and meet commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force (an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and terrorism financing). It also expanded the definition of terrorism. It enlarged the scope of punishment for raising funds. It inserted new sections to include offences by companies, societies or trusts.
  • Multi Agency Centre reorganised: MAC was revamped in 2009, after 26\11 attack, to streamline intelligence gathering and sharing. MAC functions under Intelligence Bureau, is the nodal body at Centre for sharing intelligence inputs. All agencies are expected to share information with MAC. Intelligence thus gathered by MAC is then shared with agencies concerned in states. MAC is not responsible for intelligence gathering.
  • Stronger Coastal & Maritime Security:After 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in 2008, several measures were announced by government to strengthen coastal and maritime security along entire coast. Due to coordinated efforts of all concerned, all these measures are now in place and overall maritime security is much stronger than before. Indian Navy has been lead agency in this regard and is assisted in this task by Indian Coast Guard, Marine Police and other Central and state agencies. 
  • At apex level National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS), headed by Cabinet Secretary, coordinates all matters related to Maritime and Coastal Security. Coastal patrolling by Navy, Coast Guard and marine police has increased sharply over the last few years.
  • Modern technical measures have been implemented for coastal surveillance, by way of a chain of 74 Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, for gapless cover along the entire coast.
  • National Police Mission:NPM is working to transform Police Forces into effective instrument for maintenance of Internal Security & meeting challenges of next century, by equipping them with necessary material, intellectual and organisational resources and to create a “New Vision” for the police.  Since its inception, NPM has been working for empowering Police Forces by enhancing the skills and competence at grass-root level, promoting a culture of excellence and accountability of police, meeting challenges such as asymmetric warfare, new trends in urban and social unrest, bring out specialisation in areas like counter-terrorism and insurgency, focussing on the strengthening of metropolitan and rural policing, bring in attitudinal changes in police, gender sensitisation and harnessing technology in aid of policing and adopting community policing etc. 
  • Better Equipment for Security Forces:Following 26/11, coastal security was also reviewed at various levels. Under Coastal Security Scheme, 64 out of 73 coastal police stations were operationalised. Coastal States and UTs were also given 47 interceptor boats.
  • ATS team to deradicalize Youth:Anti-terrorism squads have been formed in several states which acts a special police force which dedicated focus at stopping terrorist attacks.
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