Monday, March 30, 2015

Police run ragged by `vague' alerts


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Over 200 Yemenis entered India and we must look for them, stated one of the terror alerts issued by a security agency last month.This was one of over a dozen alerts issued to the Maharashtra police with no specific information or details.

 During 2014, various security agencies issued as many as 450 alerts, including 72 terror-related alone.
“We checked the records of foreigners' registration regional office, hotels where Yemenis stay , tourist places etc. However, we did not find a single `suspect' as mentioned in the terror alert,“ said a senior police officer, criticizing the way the central intelligence agencies issue such alerts.

Among the 450 alerts issued last year, 35 were issued by central agencies. Among the alerts issued last year, 13 were related to the underworld, while 72 were regarding terror attacksoperatives. A major chunk of these alerts was non-verified and vague.

The state police, in most of the cases, don't know which agency issued the alert since many times the alerts are filtered through the state intelligence department (SID). “After the 2611 terror attacks that killed 166, we take the alerts seriously .However, there are too many alerts to read and implement,“ complained a security officer.
Senior officials in the security establishment pointed out that since several agencies like the CISF, Intelligence Bureau, R&AW, National Technical Research Organization, Navy , financial intelligence, Railways, SID and the city's special branch are engaged into collecting intelligence they `try to prove their worth by generating alerts.' The officer said, “We are flooded by these alerts nowadays. There are many inputs and while a few of them are genuine, most of the alerts are unspecified, vague or not clear. “The agencies issuing terror alerts should demonstrate some kind of responsibility . They should verify some of the inputs before issuing the terror alerts. In other words, such alerts are like the mischief calls make to the police control rooms randomly .“

In Mumbai, the joint commissioner of police (law and order), chairs the `intelligence alerts review committee' meeting every month. The meeting is attended by officials of the ATS, special branch, crime branch, protection and security units. “The committee members discuss the various alerts and talk about action taken on them. It's more of an information sharing meeting,“ said an officer.
Rakesh Maria, city police commissioner, who had earlier headed the state anti-terrorism squad for nearly four years, said, “All terror alerts are welcome and important.They cannot be neglected and need a through probe and inquiry .“

A senior police inspector in the city said that most times they receive “copied inputs“ in the form of terror alerts. “These alerts don't speak about suspects' names, area, location or other details. In fact, we don't know how seriously the field soldiers, mostly constables, take it. If you ask me, I suggest there should not be general alerts at all. The alerts should contain specific information and the number of alerts yearly should be reduced,“ the officer said.

The Times of India, March 30, 2015

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