K.V. Subramanya

Officials for setting up ATC squads in terror-prone districts

Police have sought reports on the functioning of successful anti-terrorist cells in Mumbai, Delhi

Proposed ATC is to be an intelligence-gathering unit and an operational force

BANGALORE: After several years of inordinate delay, the process of establishing a “full-fledged and functional” anti-terrorist cell (ATC) in terror-prone Karnataka is now gaining momentum.

Having realised that the threat of terrorism to the State is “serious and real” and that the existing ATC is ineffective, the police top brass are working towards creating an ATC on the lines of similar units in other States. Highly placed sources in the State police told The Hindu on Tuesday that they have sought reports on the structure and functioning of the successful anti-terrorist cells in Mumbai and New Delhi. The idea is to make the proposed ATC an intelligence gathering unit as well as an operational force.

The existing ATC, which was established almost 15 years ago, had not been assigned specific duties thought it had been mainly gathering information from police forces in other States on terrorist groups and their activities, the sources said.

Besides, the present ATC, headed by an Inspector-General of Police had been a one-man-army for several years. Though a couple of officers were posted to the ATC some time ago, shortage of staff and resources had crippled the functioning of the all-important unit.

Indeed, Karnataka is among the few States that do not have an exclusive counter-intelligence wing.

Decentralised squads

According to the sources, senior officers were of the view that instead of having a centralised ATC for the entire State, squads should be set up even at range/district-levels, particularly in terror-prone areas such as Belgaum, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad and Gulbarga.

A senior officer based in Bangalore could control and coordinate the functioning of these squads, the sources said.

Though the successive Governments had been stating that a specialised ATC would be set up, the issue had been put on the backburner for long. The process is now being hastened after Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa announced in the budget proposals for 2008-09 that an ATC would be established in Bangalore.

Internal security

Meanwhile, the State Government has created a new post of Additional Director-General of Police (Internal Security) and posted former Bangalore Police Commissioner Neelam Achuta Rao to the position. The duties and responsibilities of the ADGP are being formulated.

According to sources, the Home Department and the ADGP (Internal Security) may be entrusted with the job of coordinating and supervising the work of security units such as the Karkala-headquartered Anti-Naxalite Force (ANF) and Udupi-based Coastal Security Police.

The Government is also contemplating whether the proposed ATC, too, could be brought under the control of the ADGP (Internal Security), the sources said.