2012: NCTC, Kasab, Naxals Keep Home Ministry Busy
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Controversy over setting up of an anti-terror hub, Ajmal Kasab's hanging and a change of guard were some highlights of 2012 in Home Ministry, whose mandarins were kept busy by strong public protests over the gangrape and death of a 23-year-old student at the fag end of the year.

There was relative calm in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast, barring Assam, during the year but violence perpetrated by Maoists in central and eastern states continued to haunt the security establishment which, despite deployment of about 80,000 paramilitary personnel, have not been successful in containing one of the bloodiest underground movements in the country.

After President Pranab Mukherjee rejected Kasab's mercy petition, the government in a highly secret operation hanged the LeT terrorist, who carried out the Mumbai terror attacks.

However, despite India's regular prodding, Pakistan is yet to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 living in that country to justice and its Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who visited New Delhi this month, only tried to put blame on India by saying its security agencies have failed to prevent the 2008 terror strike.

P Chidambaram, whose three-year tenure saw a complete overhaul of the country's security establishment, was shifted to the other wing of the North Block as Finance Minister on August 1 and Sushilkumar Shinde replaced him.

During his tenure, Chidambaram tried to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre but faced strong opposition from chief ministers like Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Narendra Modi (Gujarat) and Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), who feared such a body would interfere with the states' affairs and hurt the country's federal structure.

With his departure, the priority of the Home Ministry seems to have changed and the NCTC put on back-burner, though Shinde insists he would talk to those who opposed NCTC.

Protests over the Delhi gangrape forced the government to constitute a panel of jurists to suggest amendments in law to provide for quicker trial and stringent punishment in "aggravated sexual assault" cases amid demands for hanging.

The Home Ministry also constituted a commission of inquiry to review responses to the December 16 incident and suggest measures to improve the safety and security of women in the capital.

After nearly two years, government held a meeting of all political parties of Andhra Pradesh on December 28 to discuss the Telangana issue after which Shinde announced that a decision on the separate state demand would be taken within a month.

Naxal violence continued unabated in nine states-- Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh -- despite two-pronged strategy of development and police action.

The year saw kidnapping of a district collector in Chhattisgarh and killing of 287 civilians and 113 security force personnel till November 30. The violence also left 65 CPI Maoists dead this year.

After five years, the Home Ministry gave its security clearance to the Pakistan cricket team to visit India beginning December 25 for a three-ODI and two-Twenty20 match series.

During Malik's visit, the new India-Pakistan visa agreement was operationalised replacing a 38-year-old pact. The new agreement would facilitate multiple-entry and reporting-free visas for businessmen, allowing them to visit five cities instead of three as per the older system.
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