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India opts not to join global terror database

Intelligence agencies cite concerns, strike down proposal

April 01, 2016 01:14 am | Updated October 18, 2016 03:07 pm IST - New Delhi:

The government has decided not to join a U.S. maintained global terror database in the face of objections from the intelligence agencies.

Unhindered access to the Americans to the database of terror suspects in India, which includes their biometric details, was opposed by both the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), a senior official in the security establishment said. The proposal has been stuck since it was initially proposed by the U.S. in 2012.

A model text of the proposal — the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6) — was to be discussed at a bilateral homeland security meet to be held in June this year. The HSPD-6 is an agreement for exchange of terrorist screening information between the Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the U.S. and a selected Indian security agency. The TSC has the database of 11,000 terror suspects.

As reported by The Hindu last week, the U.S. authorities while pitching for the agreement, told Indian authorities that “in the past one year two dozen people with terrorist links were arrested in Canada and Australia with the help of HSPD-6 as both countries are signatories to it.”

There have been several rounds of discussions between India and the U.S. in the past one year on the issue. Both sides narrowed down their differences on several key aspects.

The aim was to sign the pact in the next Homeland Security Dialogue to be attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his U.S. counterpart Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security.

However, the proposed agreement has now been dropped from the agenda reportedly due to the objections from Indian intelligence agencies. “It has been taken off from the agenda,” said a senior officer privy to the development.

On Tuesday, the issue of the terror database was not discussed at all during a preparatory meeting for the Homeland Security Dialogue attended by Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alan Bersin and Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs M. Gopal Reddy. The U.S. has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.

The database includes name of the terror suspect, nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any), and passport number.

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