Amit Shah
Amit Shah
Photo by ANI

New Delhi: The Home Ministry has brought back to life the National Intelligence Grid project promoted during the tenure of P Chidambaram as home minister and for which the then Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Dr Manmohan Singh had even sanctioned Rs 3400 crore.

Home Minister Amit Shah wants the facility to become operational as early as early next year. He recently held a meeting of senior officials to review the project that was conceptualised after the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai.

Chidambaram had vigorously pushed for it as a robust real-time intelligence gathering and sharing mechanism to cover immigration, banking, individual tax payers, air and train travel, and the criminals' data base. The project's aim was to resolve issues by using artificial intelligence.

NATGRID will not have a database of its own but a collated database connected with software. "The database collated from 18-18 agencies will ensure that among innumerable crime suspects, the search is narrowed down to just two or three," a senior official said.

The search will enable the security agencies to arrive at the right answer to every query within a fraction of seconds. A closed group of the agencies will run through the database having a pool of mobile numbers, vehicle numbers, passport numbers, Aadhaar numbers, arms licences, bank accounts, travel details and social media accounts.

The idea of having such a database emerged after the realisation of lack of real-time info that prevented detection of US terror suspect David Headley's movements during his India visits between 2006 and 2009 to engineer the terror attacks on Mumbai.

For gathering information, the intelligence and security agencies have to currently fan out and compete with one another. NATGRID will help them in getting answers at one place. The officials said the fully functional system would help in real-time tracking of the terror operatives and suspects.

In the first phase, 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected with NATGRID big frame computer. The idea is to connect 950 organisations later and add another 1000 in the subsequent years.

Ten agencies which will collate own data and will have access to the NATGRID are Intelligence Bureau, RAW, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Revenue Intelligence, CBDT, CBEC, Financial Intelligence Unit, Directorate General of Central Excise and Intelligence and NCB.

Initially, no state agency will be given direct access to the NATGRID data, but on need to know basis they can approach it through any of the 10 user agencies. The data stored in the computers of the state police will, however, be accessible through NATGRID.

Sources said NATGRID has just finalised the process for getting the data on about 8 crore tax payers from the Income Tax Department while the data of air travellers is being collected from the Director General of Civil Aviation and the airlines.

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