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Intensity, number of terror attacks could rise: Narayanan

Posted on Jan 20 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Jan 20 : It will be a grievous error to view the decline in the number of terror attacks in India in the past two years as evidence of terrorism coming under check, West Bengal Governor M.K. Nayaranan said Monday.

The former National Security Advisor also noted that there was a possibility of both the intensity and the number of attacks being stepped up "in the period ahead".

Delivering the first R.V. Raju Memorial Lecture at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Day function here, he said India would be the next target if the Taliban established its sway in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-led troops this year.

Narayanan said terrorism remained a grave threat to the civilised world, contrary to the perception of some security and strategic analysts in the West.

Narayanan said both the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) networks remained active in the country.

He said Pakistan appeared determined to support jehadist elements to keep India off balance.

"Both LeT and IM networks remain active despite claims to the contrary," he said. "It would be a mistake to believe otherwise.

"On the other hand, given the new terrorist dynamic, one should envisage the possibility of both the intensity and the number of attacks being stepped up in the period ahead.

"The likelihood of possible 'suicide missions' also needs to be factored into future calculation," he said.

He said separating terrorist outfits from bodies that profess to be political in character was indeed a major challenge.

He said Pakistan's new army doctrine even stipulates "disproportionate response" in future wars with India, implying a willingness to use the nuclear option if India responded to terror attacks like the one Mumbai witnesses in 2008.

"We have to be prepared for more attacks of this kind," he said. "What is particularly worrying is that Pakistan shows no inclination to desist from pursuing 'high risk' strategies."

Noting that the principal focus of the NIA should be proper investigation of terrorist incidents and crimes, he said the agency should not branch out into speculative analysis.

Narayanan urged the government to avoid the temptation of using the NIA in areas that do not fall within its core tasks.

"There has, unfortunately, been a tendency on the part of the government, in case of other central agencies, to employ them in areas that do not fall within their core responsibilities."

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who presided over the function, said India's enemies, who were "against the idea of India will try to keep us on tenterhooks and unsettle us".

Referring to terrorism, Shinde said: "The epicentre (of terrorism) remains in (India's) neighbourhood."

Narayanan said the threat posed by terrorism in India was dependent on what prevails in the volatile and difficult neigbhourhood.

"In Afghanistan and Pakistan, a combination of state weaknesses and the presence of myriad terrorist (groups) constitutes a direct threat.

"Taliban extremism in both countries shows no signs of muting itself. Surrender to extremist forces like Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan's willingness to hold unconstitutional talks with the Taliban thus have gravest consequences for us," he said.

Narayanan said India cannot afford to ignore the extraordinary comeback of several Al Qaeda affiliates across parts of Asia and Africa and Russia.

He said they were seeking to use advanced technology to improve their destructive capabilities.

He said an overwhelming number of terror attacks in India were the handiwork of Pakistan-based outfits and the IM, created by LeT following the Gujarat riots of 2002.

He said rightwing Hindu outfits also carried out sporadic terror attacks such as those on the Samjhauta Express and at Malegaon in Maharashtra.

He said the 26/11 attack was an entirely LeT operation, backed by the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan.

Narayanan said the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had been one of the fountainheads of Islamic extremist ideology in India.

"The emerging dynamic suggests that there were no clear ground rules which dictate how, and where a terrorist attack takes place.

"Consequently, complacency that a reduction in the number of terrorist incidents signifies that the threat from terrorism has been reduced would be a serious error," he said.

NIA was was set up in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack to investigate offences affecting security, sovereignty and integrity of the country.

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