Thursday, October 07, 2004

David C. Mulford offers FBI help

The FBI has offered to help India find the terrorists who carried out recent bombings there:

Delhi today said US ambassador David C. Mulford’s offer of FBI assistance to apprehend the perpetrators of the blasts in Nagaland and Assam was in accordance with the bilateral cooperation agreement on counter-terrorism.

Home minister Shivraj Patil told the media that the letters written by Mulford to the Nagaland and Assam chief ministers, expressing his country’s concern over the blasts, was a genuine gesture.

He said it was for the ministry of external affairs to look into the specifics of the offer.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s declared willingness to accept FBI help left officials across the spectrum of the Unified Command fuming.

“This is sheer escapism,” said a senior police official, who has been in the thick of counter-insurgency operations for many years.

Set up in 1996, the Unified Command is a three-tier apparatus that oversees operations against militants in the state.

“We did not require help of any foreign agency in the last 25 years of insurgency in Assam. I don’t think we need any help now, particularly when insurgency is at an ebb than some years ago,” the official said, fearing demoralisation of the forces otherwise.

The ambassador’s gesture drew flak from the CPM, an ally of the Congress-led Centre, though the Congress itself came up with a soft response.

Demanding rejection of the US offer, the CPM said in a statement: “Chief minister Tarun Gogoi does not seem to be aware of the elementary concept of national sovereignty and it would be better if he concentrated on tackling the extremist problem, which he has singularly failed to tackle so far.”

Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said in Delhi her party welcomed the “US concern” but the offer should have been made “through government channel”.

There are instances of the US embassy writing directly to states, but this is the first time that the FBI’s services have been offered.

Special secretary Anil Choudhury said India had “fairly good capabilities” to investigate but added this should not be construed as a “rejection” of the US offer.


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