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Intelligence Bureau gets ₹138 crore, months after Amit Shah’s push to upgrade counter-terrorism grid

Source : The Hindu

Intelligence Bureau gets ₹138 crore, months after Amit Shah’s push to upgrade counter-terrorism grid
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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sanctioned ₹138.48 crore to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for a “technical upgrade,” a senior government official said. The funds are meant to upgrade the Multi Agency Centre (MAC), a common counter-terrorism grid under Intelligence Bureau that was conceptualised in 2001, post-Kargil war.

The money was sanctioned months after Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the functioning of MAC with State Director General of Police (DGP), Intelligence Bureau, army and other security agencies in a pan-India meeting in January stressing on the “need for better coordination and synergy among the central and State security agencies in countering the ever-changing counter terrorism and security challenges.”

This is the second upgrade planned for MAC. The first time it was overhauled was under the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram in 2009. The MAC’s foundation was laid down by the present National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval in 2001, who was then an additional director in the Intelligence Bureau.

Ashok Prasad, former Special Secretary, MHA said that the idea behind MAC was to create an institutional memory on terrorism and act as a platform to analyse the information on terror-related activities. The former Intelligence Bureau officer said that the first software for MAC was designed in-house.

An official said that MAC has the main server in Delhi which is linked to the subsidiary multi-agency centre (SMAC) under Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIBs) in all States, which further disseminates information to the intelligence branch or wing of the respective State police.

Plans are now afoot to link it to the district office of Superintendent of Police which has been pending for more than a decade now.

“Intelligence agencies do not have investigating powers, it can only be done by the local police. If MAC is linked to the district SP’s office, relevant information on terror can be fed in the system leading to the expansion of terror database,” said Mr. Prasad.

Common pool

An official explained that MAC collates information from multiple agencies and puts it in a common pool for the users to access the relevant information.

“Not every one can access the information. If an agency has found a suspicious number, it can run a search on the MAC platform and if the number is already stored in the database, the agency will be directed to the official concerned. The agency will then have to contact the official to get more details on the particular number,” said the official.

As many as 28 organisations including the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), armed forces and State police are part of the platform and various security agencies share real time intelligence inputs on MAC. There are around 400 secured sites connected with the MAC headquarters.

A parliamentary standing committee report in 2020 had observed that the contribution made over the years by State agencies is lower in the overall inputs that have been received at MAC.

In the Union Budget 2022-23, Intelligence Bureau received one of its highest allocation in the past seven years. It has been allocated ₹3,168 crore this fiscal, an increase of 125 % since 2016-17 when ₹1,410 crore was assigned for the agency.

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