As Home Minister Shivraj Patil began work on a 10-year plan to strengthen the Intelligence Bureau on September 26, there was something missing from the ranks: Muslims. It is a vacuum felt day after day in the battle against terrorism – like last month in a night-time raid on a north Mumbai neighbourhood. Dozens of police officers swooped on the maze of narrow lanes, looking for a top terror suspect, as residents watched terrified from half-open windows. Police had information that Abdul Subhan, the alleged planner of the Sept. 13 New Delhi blasts, was hiding in the Muslim majority neighbourhood of Mograpada. Shortly after, it was all over. Police realised they had been misled – and that they did not have the kind of local intelligence required. “We have zero penetration in the community. That is where they (terrorists) have an edge, which makes all the difference,” a senior Mumbai police officer said, declining to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
From the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency, to the domestic Intelligence Bureau, down to the neighbourhood police stations, Muslims form a fraction of the forces. Even the elite Indian Police Service has only four per cent Muslims, according to the Justice Sachar Committee.