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India to Strengthen National Security Following Bomb Attacks

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Indian authorities have announced a series of measures to strengthen security following recent bombings in major cities, including the capital.  Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the government has come under attack for not doing enough to counter terrorism.

Indian Home Secretary, Madhukar Gupta says a new counter-terrorism center will be established to prevent terror attacks in the country.  He says more police personnel will also be recruited, and closed-circuit TV cameras installed in crowded places such as shopping malls.  

Officials also acknowledged they must be ready to deal with threats from home-grown militants.   
 
The measures, which are part of a revamp of the police and intelligence apparatus, were announced days after the Indian capital was hit by a series of bomb blasts.

New Delhi was the latest target of bomb attacks that have killed more than 100 people in major cities during the past four months. The pattern of attacks has been similar, low-intensity bombs planted in crowded areas such as markets.

The bombings have led to strong criticism that the government lacks an effective counter-terrorist policy, and intelligence agencies are not able to tackle the menace.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted Wednesday there are "still vast gaps in intelligence and these need to be overcome."

Home Secretary Gupta says efforts are being made to strengthen vigilance and intelligence gathering.

"There is a very specific element and component of this, which is basically a joint task force between the central agencies and the concerned states which work together, sharing of information, getting linkages, pool information from various other places and various other states where these things have happened," he said.

But the government has turned down calls by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party for the reinstatement of a tough anti-terror law that was scrapped by the government after it came to power.  The BJP says the law is needed to tackle the growing terror threat, but the government says it was misused to harass Muslims.

Information and Broadcasting Minister, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi says the law will not be revived. 

"Categorically, I say no, no, no," he said.  "It [the law] was acutely draconian against human rights."

Security experts are also urging the government to pay closer attention to the threat posed by home-grown militant groups.  A group called Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several of the recent bombings.   

Previously, India pointed the finger at Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups for terror attacks, but there are fears the recent attacks were the work of a locally based group.

 

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