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Syed Waseem Pasha asked: In the Indian context, how can human intelligence and technical intelligence be used in combating terrorism?

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  • Amit Kumar replies: Human Intelligence or HUMINT, refers to intelligence gathering by means of interpersonal contact with its emphasis on human beings, as opposed to the more technical intelligence gathering involving SIGINT (Signals intelligence), IMINT (Imagery Intelligence) and MASINT (Measurement and signature intelligence). Together these can play a very important role in combating terrorism.

    Terrorist activities in India are carried out by modules that consist of local youth, often supported by external actors. HUMINT is crucial in gathering information about these modules. However, since these are largely loosely structured organizations, there is scope for the police to sneak into their set up. Through increased use of police, particularly beat-level policing, police can gather enough information about these outfits. Thus, unlike NIA or other agencies that take actions once an incident has occurred, HUMINT can prevent the very happening of the same. The beat constable, who knows every household in his limited area of responsibility, should be the pivot of the entire police system, which is at the forefront of fighting the menace of terrorism. So we must strengthen beat policing to overcome our serious inability in the sphere of intelligence gathering and then take suitable measures to augment intelligence sharing. Since our police are still not technically qualified, HUMINT becomes more crucial to them as compared to the military, which is technically more qualified and can take adequate care of threats emanating from across the borders using TECHINT for its purposes. Also, technical intelligence will prove more useful for the military and paramilitary than the police. So through a combined use of these two intelligence mechanisms, we can be more effective in countering terrorism.