Need strong ties with US to fight terror: Shinde

NEW DELHI (TIP): Conceding that both India and the US were leading targets of transnational terror groups, Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday sought enhanced cooperation between the two countries to “secure our cities and our people”. Addressing the India-US police chiefs’ conference — the first ever mega-city policing cooperation between the Americans and another country — Shinde said most attacks in India were launched from across the border, an indirect reference to Pakistan, and intended to cause greatest disruption of peace.

Recalling the 9/11 attacks in New York as well as the 26/11 Mumbai strikes, the minister underlined how terrorists would typically target large and densely populated urban areas to inflict maximum damage. “An effective megacity policing system must serve as an effective deterrent against terrorists and their masters, who launch targeted attacks on the nerve centres of a country… our objective must be to make our cities safe, and therefore our countries, safe by reducing our vulnerability to such challenges,” he told the gathering of police chiefs from various key cities in the US and from across India.

The two-day police chiefs’ conference is being organized by the Union home ministry as part of the India-US Homeland Security Dialogue, an outcome of US President Barack Obama’s discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the former’s visit here in November, 2010. The dialogue has seen four ministeriallevel meetings and more than a 100 bilateral engagements covering training, briefings, exchanges and visits. While Shinde and home secretary Anil Goswami are leading the Indian side, assistant secretary for policy, US department of homeland security, David Heyman, heads the US delegation of police chiefs.

Also present at the inaugural session on Tuesday was US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, who described the Indo-US homeland security dialogue as one of the most robust pillars of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The visiting side comprises representatives of leading American companies offering technological solutions for policing in the US, who will explore business opportunities in India. Heyman said that while the US was working to facilitate and expedite sharing of log details by prominent American internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter to aid investigations here, it expected reciprocity in terms of India offering opportunities for the US companies to succeed here.

Shinde, in his inaugural address on Tuesday, exhorted the two sides to share the unique and innovative solutions that police forces of either side have developed while dealing with mega-city policing challenges. “There is…a need for better integration of security inputs and information that different law enforcement agencies generate, as well as mechanisms by which regional and federal agencies work with each other,” he told the police chiefs. The home minister also raised the issue of application of enhanced technological solutions in policing.

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“Increasingly, sophisticated technologies are being adapted…to assist police forces in early detection of crimes, identification of perpetrators, improved coordination among agencies and expedited response time… there is much we can do together as partners to enhance the use of appropriate technology for our police forces,” he said.

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