India and the United States have signed a key pact for exchange of intelligence on terror on a real time basis that include biographic information of known and suspected terrorists. The agreement is signed days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, where he will address the US Congress.
An arrangement between the authorised Indian governmental agencies and the government of the United States of America for exchange of terrorist screening information was signed on Thursday by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.
As per this pact, India and the US will provide each other access to terrorism screening information through the designated contact points, subject to domestic laws and regulations, an official spokesperson said.
The agreement would enhance the counter terrorism cooperation between India and the US.
With signing of the key pact, India has formally entered into the US Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6), which will enable it to access ‘unclassified biographic information of known and suspected terrorists’ maintained by the US on a reciprocal basis.
The HSPD-6 is a model text agreement for exchange of terrorist screening information between Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) of the US and an Indian agency.
There have been several rounds of discussions between the interlocutors of the two countries in the past one year and both sides have narrowed down their differences on several key issues with the aim of signing the pact.
The US has already finalised such agreements with 30 countries.
TSC is a multi agency organisation administered by FBI which consolidates several terrorist watch lists maintained by different US government agencies into single terrorist database on terror suspects.
The database includes the name of the terror suspect, nationality, date of birth, photos, finger prints (if any) and passport number.
Officials said, initially some Indian security agencies had expressed their reservations saying the arrangement primarily protects US interests. However, later, the security agencies came to the conclusion that there was no disadvantage in entering into the proposed pact with TSC. It was agreed that while signing the pact, it must be ensured that privacy issues are taken care of, officials said.
The Intelligence Bureau will be the nodal agency and designated as the Indian party to the agreement.