The arrest of Bangalore-based Maulana Anzarshah Qasmi (50) for his alleged links with Al-Qaeda has exposed the terror underbelly of the IT capital of India. Policing has, of late, been in total disarray in Bangalore, though the Siddaramaiah government is claiming that everything is under control.
First, the Bangalore police were completely caught unaware when Delhi Police landed in the city to nab the maulana, who was accused of delivering provocative and anti-national speeches in various parts of the country.
Now, the Bangalore police are suddenly claiming that they were in the “loop” with the central security establishment and that they were asked to keep an eye on the maulana. But everyone is aware that the police are known for taking such a defensive line whenever they want to cover up their lapses.
The police are now training their guns on the associates of the maulana and they are under observation.
This is not the first time that the Bangalore police have been at the wrong end, particularly when it came to terror-related work. The Bangalore police gets active only when they receive credible inputs from other state police or the central intelligence agencies.
There is an acute shortcoming with the police when it comes to monitoring terror-related activities in the city, or keeping an eye on the presence of people with terror links.
For instance, the Bangalore police have still not been able to crack the Church Street blast case. It has been more than a year since the blast killed a woman closer to New Year’s eve in 2014. The police have still not been able to identify the suspects.
Similarly, though the police have filed a chargesheet in connection with the revival of the Indian Mujahideen Bhatkal Cell, nothing much is heard about the progress of that case either.
Investigation by the central security agencies proved that Bangalore has become a haven for leaders of terror organisations from the northeastern states. In a series of operations last year, the Bangalore police helped nab leaders of various banned terror outfits in the city.
So, where has the Bangalore police gone wrong?
The primary focus of Bangalore police is crime prevention and detection, and traffic maintenance — two of the biggest challenges facing the city. They are hardly left with any staff to carry out serious work such as intelligence gathering, monitoring and tracking terror suspects in the city.
The city police are severely understaffed and every new government promises filling up the vacancies but nothing actually happens on ground.
Another problem plaguing the police is frequent transfers and invariably the politicians are involved in lucrative posting. Except for a few top officers, the mindset of the police is still not towards serious intelligence gathering relating to terror activities in the city.
For a long time, it has been established that Bangalore is a safe destination for terrorists. The cosmopolitan nature of the city and the influx of migrants from other parts of the nation make it difficult for the police to zero in on the people or the nature of the problems they pose unless they receive specific inputs.
There is one Central Crime Branch under the police, but their hands are already full investigating crimes such as frauds, rackets, scams and other important cases.
The Karnataka Anti-Terrorist Squad was formed in 2008 soon after serial blasts rocked Bangalore. But nothing much is heard about their activities, of late. They have been well-trained to counter terror activities, but lack intelligence gathering and research activities.
It is time the Karnataka government overhauled the police to streamline work relating to nabbing terror suspects or monitoring terror-related activities in the city.
The government need not continue to rely on intelligence agencies from other states to find out that the city is sheltering terror suspects.