Par panel cautions govt against excessive deployment of paramilitary forces

The excessive deployment of paramilitary forces in states for law and order duties will adversely affect its core areas of anti-insurgency and border guarding operations, a Parliamentary panel warned the government on Monday.

The Committee on Estimates led by veteran BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi told the government that the “tendency” of states to look towards the Centre “even for day to day” law and order issues “need to be reversed.

In its report ‘Central Armed Police Forces and Internal Security Challenges — Evaluation and Response Mechanism’, the Committee said it was concerned to note the “heavy dependence” of states on paramilitary personnel. The number of deployment of paramilitary battalions has increased from 91 in 2012-13 to 119 in 2016-17.

It noted the central forces are “sometimes detained even after the task is over and are deployed continuously” in some of the states for holding elections. The panel said it indicated that a “gradual trend” of substituting state police with paramilitary forces.

“What is disturbing more is the situation whereby over deployment is likely to affect the anti-insurgency and border guarding operations, besides curtailing the training needs of these forces. Not only that, continuous deployment leaves little time for recuperation/rest thereby creating stress among the paramilitary personnel,” the report tabled in Parliament said.

The panel suggested that the states must develop their own systems and upgrade as well as augment their own police forces by providing adequate training and equipping them with state of the art weapons, and enable them to fight militancy and insurgency besides handling law and order.

It was critical of the state governments for not doing enough to contain internal disturbances and that they are heavily dependent on the Centre by frequently asking for paramilitary forces.

The panel noted that paramilitary personnel were working under constant pressure and difficult conditions. “Non-availability of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities like winter clothes to paramilitary personnel not only out them at disadvantageous position against the insurgents and terrorists but also compromise the security of the country,” the panel said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 20, 2018)

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Allocations for women safety scheme drastically cut: Par Panel

A Parliamentary panel has rapped the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for its lack of seriousness in strengthening safety and security of women in the country, even as the crime against women are on the rise.

The comments comes as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs led by former Home Minister P Chidambaram found that the allocations made for Schemes for Safety of Women has been “drastically” cut down from Rs 313.30 crore at Budget Estimates 2017-18 to just Rs 81.75 crore at Budget Estimate 2018-19. This amount is for whole country.

“The Committee is disappointed that the allocated amount of Rs. 22.69 crore (capital) could not be utilised completely due to which the allocation got substantially decreased to Rs.7.87 crore in Revised Estimates 2017-18. The Committee strongly disapproves of this lack of seriousness in strengthening the safety and security of women in the country,” the panel said.

Reminding the MHA that the Nirbhaya Fund was intended to implement schemes which are technology-driven and which will significantly enhance the security of women, the panel recommended that the Ministry should desist from allocating funds, which are granted under the Nirbhaya Fund, for the purposes that can be covered by normal spending.

“The Committee also recommends that at least one scheme should be implemented in every city under the Nirbhaya Fund to significantly enhance the security of women,” it said.

The panel was also “displeased to note” that the allocations made for border infrastructure and management have been constantly decreasing over the years.

“The Committee observes that the funds under this head were significantly decreased by Rs 560.16 crore at Revised Estimate stage in 2017-18 mostly due to delayed construction of infrastructure,” it said adding the MHA should “seriously go into the reasons for slow pace of work and poor utilization of funds”.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 14, 2018)

Nothing much changed in naxal hot-bed

Exactly a year ago, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for an “introspection” on what led to the killing of 12 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma despite naxals suffering “unprecedented losses” in 2016. But, it seems nothing much have changed in the naxal hot-bed.

Official figures showed that naxal violence in Chhattisgarh is on the rise this year so far compared to corresponding period of previous year though the overall figure is on the decline.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there were 61 incidents in Chhattisgarh this year till February 15 as against 53 during the same period last year. While 15 people were killed in naxal violence this year, it was 17 in Chhattisgarh in 2017. Chhattisgarh also continue to be on the top of the list of naxal-infested states.

The attack on a mine-protected vehicle comes a year after a similar incident in Sukma when 12 CRPF personnel were ambushed.

Making a statement in Lok Sabha on 14 March, 2017, Singh then said, “there is a need for introspection on this incident. I have directed the Director General, CRPF to conduct a detailed enquiry into the incident so that the lapses that led to the incident can be identified which will reduce the possibility of repetition of such incidents in the future.” This time too, Singh has directed the CRPF chief to rush to the spot.

He had then said, “sustained operations by the Security Forces ensured that South Bastar districts, considered to be the nucleus of LWE strength witnessed a considerable fall in violence in 2016 (252 incidents as against 326 in 2015).”

In the latest budget, the government has earmarked Rs 1,344 crore for fighting naxals across the country and reaching out to people in Maoist-infested districts with development projects. The bulk of the allocation goes to projects proposed by states in 35 worst naxal-infested districts to tackle development issues.

Another Rs 200 crore is allocated for Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme for paying ex gratia to families of those killed in naxal violence, insurance premium of police, training and operational requirements, compensation for surrendered Maoists, security related infrastructure and other expenses of village defence committees.

The scheme is expected to reduce naxal violence and number of attacks on security personnel deployed in such areas.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 14, 2018)

Don’t bring to us unbelievable stats: Par panel to MHA

Don’t bring to us “unbelievable statistics” — this was the terse message from a Parliamentary panel to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its latest report on border security.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs led by former Home Minister P Chidambaram did not mince words when it wondered how terrorist attacks continued to happen in Jammu and Kashmir if security forces foiled all infiltration attempts in the past four years.

Acknowledging that the efforts taken to foil infiltration attempts had resulted in reduction in such incidents, the panel said its main concern was with the incidents where the terrorists “successfully infiltrate” into Indian territory and carry out terror attacks.

However, the report said, “the committee also takes exception to the confusing statistics furnished by the Ministry that show that all cases of infiltration were foiled in the past 4 years. If such was the case, no terrorist attack would have happened in the last three years.”

The Committee strongly recommends that instead of furnishing unbelievable statistics, the Ministry should focus on further augmenting the capacity of Border Guarding Forces to make Line of Control and International Boundary a zero-tolerance area for terrorist infiltration,” it said.

***************************************************

Reasons for increase in infiltration attempts from Pakistan

** Pakistan’s ability to regulate the inflow of terrorists into Kashmir

** To direct attention of international fora from internal security situation within Pakistan to Kashmir

** Help foment trouble and provide indigenous hue to the violence in Kashmir

** In view of damage inflicted by Indian forces to terrorists over the last five years, need to revive strength of terrorists operating in Kashmir to keep their movement alive

****************************************************

Ministry should focus on further augmenting the capacity of Border Guarding Forces to make Line of Control and International Boundary a zero-tolerance area for terrorist infiltration,” it said.

The comments are part of a report prepared by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs headed by former Home Minister P Chidambaram on the action taken by the government on its earlier recommendations on ‘Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions’.

The report acknowledged the MHA’s argument that Pakistan is making attempts to “divert” international attention from the internal security situation within the country to Kashmir. The panel said India should use all diplomatic avenues to counter it.

It also said Pakistan’s efforts to “regulate the inflow” of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and to “foment violence” in the state need to be “combated/checked to eliminate any possibility of terrorist attacks” there.

The panel had in last April expressed concerns over the sudden spurt in infiltration attempts on Line of Control (LoC) and to this, the government has now replied that it has constructed 668.66 km long Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border under the operational control of Army.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 9, 2018)

Rs 13.35 cr prog to train judicial officers, police in cyber crime

Government is embarking on an ambitious Rs 13.35 crore programme to train around 37,500 policemen and judicial officers in cyber crime in next two years to strengthen the investigation and prosecution mechanism as well as preventing such incidents.

Under the programme, 27,500 police personnel and 10,000 judicial officers and prosecutors will be trained in working of cyber domain, modus operandi of cyber criminals, basic understanding of evidences associated with such crimes, legal provisions, cyber crime identification, crime scene management and investigation procedures.

Of the 27,500 police personnel, at least 2,500 will be chosen from women Station House Officers (SHOs) across the country as they would be the first to inteact with victims and record their complaints. Of the 17,500 officers, states can add more women police officers for the training programme.

A senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official told DH that the programme is being rolled out as the government feels that the understanding on cyber crimes cannot be limited to a few specialist investigative officers, as increasing use of internet and social media has resulted in a “plethora of varied crimes being committed in the cyber domain”.

The training is part of Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children scheme under Nirbhaya Fund.

*******************************************************

Training programme for police personnel in cyber crime

3 day

(Police)

Any gender

3 day

(Police)

Women

3 day

(Prosecutors)

3 day

(Judges)

5 day

(Police)

Any gender

5 day

(Police)

Women

Tamil Nadu

1500

150

300

300

910

40

Uttar Pradesh

1400

140

600

600

910

40

Maharashtra

1100

110

600

600

630

20

Andhra Pradesh

1000

100

125

125

630

20

Bihar

1000

100

200

200

650

50

MP

Karnataka

1000

900

100

90

350

300

350

300

630

630

20

20

All India

15000

2000

5000

5000

10000

500

*******************************************************

The unveiling of the training programme comes weeks after the MHA asked states to set up systems to monitor “deep web” which is often used for planning and execution by cyber criminals. Its advisory on cyber crime prevention and control to the states has insisted on the need for gearing up institutional mechanism to tackle cyber crimes, which pose “technical, administrative as well as legal challenges” in investigations.

Three training modules have been designed. Two sepearate three-day programme has been devised for police personnel 17,000 personnel that includes at least 2,000 police women, who receive the complaints, and judicial officers. A five-day programme for 10,500 above the rank of Sub Inspector, including at least 500 women, for those investigate these cases.

An MHA concept note shared with states said that most of the crimes now have an element of misuse of computers, smart-phones and communication networks and these technologies are being used by criminals in committing conventional crimes.

There is a need to evaluate electronic evidences for nailing culprits and the training is aimed at enabling investigators to extract legally tenable evidences for securing conviction in courts.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 14, 2018)

Rs 1344 crore earmarked for fighting naxals

The government has earmarked Rs 1,344 crore for fighting naxals across the country and reaching out to people in Maoist-infested districts with development projects.

The bulk of the allocation, which is detailed in a Budget document ‘Output-Outcome Frame Work for Schemes 2018-19’, goes to projects proposed by states in 35 worst naxal-infested districts.

The budgetary allocation for Special Central Assistance for these districts is Rs 1,000 crore. Under this, funds would be provided to these districts in seven naxal-affected states in advance — Rs 28.57 crore per district per annum for three years — for undertaking the projects.

A senior official in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said this scheme is aimed at providing public infrastructure and services like school buildings, anganwadi centres, primary health centres, drinking water supply, village roads and furniture in schools. According to the document, this will help in filling critical gaps of emergent nature not covered under any development scheme.

“The government’s policy is multi-prong. Force alone would not help in tackling Maoist menace. We need to bring the fruits of development to these areas so that people can stand up to the ultras,” the official told DH.

Another Rs 200 crore is allocated for Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme. This amount would be spent on paying ex gratia to families of civilians and personnel killed in naxal violence, insurance premium of police, training and operational requirements, compensation for surrendered Maoists, security related infrastructure and other expenses of village defence committees.

The scheme is expected to reduce naxal violence and number of attacks on security personnel deployed in such areas. Last year witnessed the Maoists violence remaining below 1,000-mark for the first time in eight years but number of security personnel getting killed in action had recorded a rise.

Securing police stations also have got priority with the allocation of Rs 94 crore given under Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) for construction of 250 fortified police station. This would help in filling critical infrastructure relating to mobility of security forces and secure camping grounds and helipads in remote areas.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 12)

Sep IPC section needed to deal with crime against journos: MP

Concerned over the attacks on journalists and police failing to catch culprits, a Trinamool Congress MP will move a private resolution in Rajya Sabha on Friday seeking a separate section in Indian Penal Code dealing with offences against media persons.

Referring to the murder of Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru last September, journalist-turned MP Vivek Gupta said in his private member resolution that cases of work related threats and violence against journalists are increasing. He also demanded a CBI probe into the murder of Lankesh, who was an outspoken critic of Hindutva forces.

Gupta said there is no umbrella scheme for the protection of security of journalists and media community while seeking a nationwide survey to get an actual estimate of number of journalists facing work-relate threats to formulate a protection plan and welfare for them. Another suggestion from the MP was setting up of a toll-free number so that journalists can contact police in case of emergency.

Quoting a report of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the resolution said, “not a single case of journalist’s murder was solved in India over the past decade and 96% of cases of attack on media personnel remained unresolved since 1992.

Noting that the country ranks 136 out of 192 countries in 2017 on World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, the resolution said, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) database records only those cases of attacks on media persons where there is ‘grievous hurt of varying degrees’ but does not include murder of journalists resulting in under-reporting of cases. The number of journalists facing work related threats is “grossly under estimated” due to less reporting of such cases, it said.

The official statistics itself suggest 142 attacks against journalists for grievous hurt between 2014 and 2015. However, only 73 people were arrested in these cases.

“There in disparity across the states between the registered cases of attack on the media personnel and the number of persons arrested for these attacks, for instance, Uttar Pradesh registered highest number of such cases (64), but only 4 persons were arrested….whereas in 26 cases of attack on journalists which were registered in Madhya Pradesh, 42 persons were arrested. The conviction rate of the persons arrested for crimes against journalists is even lower than the arrests,” the resolution said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Feb 8, 2018)

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