It has been five years since the National Investigation Agency was set up. The premier investigation agency which was to probe terror cases in India would not be proud of itself considering the fact that it has cracked or brought just one case to its logical end.
Many cases including the 26/11 attacks case are dragging at a snail’s pace and at times it appears as though there is a clear lack of direction. While the experts point out that it is a bit harsh to say that the NIA is dragging its feet on the 26/11 case since most of the accused are out of the country, it would not be wrong to say that there is a clear lack of will in the rest of the cases.
The only case which has been taken to its logical end is the bomb blast case at Kozhikode. Two persons were recently sentenced to life by a court in Kerala. While the NIA can pat itself on the back for this case, it sure has a lot of introspection to do in the rest of the cases.
All cases pertaining to Hindu terror which included Malegaon, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid and Samjautha were handed over to the NIA. When Swami Aseemanand made the confession statement in which he named several persons alleged to be involved in these cases, the NIA thought it had nailed it. However it was the same lacklustre approach that cost the NIA these cases and till date they are not able to put out a definitive chargesheet on these cases. They had taken the confessional statement for granted and did not expect him to retract. The moment the statement was retracted in court, it was back to basics for the NIA. Today they are unable to find proper evidence against Sadhvi Pragya Singh and more importantly have not been able to nab two other accused Ramji Kalasanghra and Sandeep Dange.
The situation is more of less similar in the cases of Bodhgaya, Dilsukhnagar and Patna a few of the other major cases the NIA is handling. In none of these cases can the NIA claim that it has made a major headway. There are statements by some accused which will without a doubt be retracted. They have managed to say who the master minds of these attacks are. But then there is no need for the NIA to say this- any child on the street today is familiar with Riyaz, Iqbal among others sitting in Paksitan.
The NIA has failed to file chargesheets in 23 out of the 48 terror cases that it is handling. To make matters worse in the chargesheets that have been filed a few are pending before the court and in the rest, the cases have been thrown out of court for shoddy investigation.
It appears to be an absolute mess with none of the cases reaching its logical end. There is a rush for credit and this has angered the state police. The NIA boasts that it made 150 arrests of terror suspects. In reality all these arrests were made by the respective state police and handed over to the NIA as the cases were transferred. Moreover there is also a lot of reliance on the state police for forensics and other information. It has been pointed out by the NIA several times that they are a victim of ego clashes. The state police do not like a central agency entering into their jurisdiction and very often hide information to show the NIA in poor light. The other issue is that the NIA is considered to be a stooge of the central government and states with parties which do not rule at the centre are less cooperative thus hampering the probe.
However one should also give the NIA a bit of sympathy. It is over worked no doubt today. The moment there is a terror strike, they reach the spot four hours later. All they do is wait for the state police to share the first information with them and this takes almost a day or so. For the next couple of days the NIA waits for a directive from the Home Ministry stating that the case has been transferred. During this interim both the state police and the NIA probe the same case independently. By the time the case is handed over to the NIA, there is a massive mess since there are two versions to the investigations. This would mean the NIA starts from scratch and by the time there is any sense made out of the case, it is time for them to move on to the next case considering the rate at which India is targeted by terrorists.
(Story first published on rediff.com)