Union Home Minister's Speech at the Chief Minister's Conference on Internal Security
“Hon’ble Prime Minister, my senior colleague, the Finance Minister, Chief Ministers, Ministers of State Governments, Ministers of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Lt. Governors, Administrators, senior officials of the Central Government and State Governments, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the Government of India, I welcome you to this Conference – the fifth in a series that began in January, 2009. In particular, I offer a warm welcome and my gratitude to the Prime Minister, the Chief Ministers and my colleagues in the Central Government who have spared a whole day for these deliberations. I thank the Prime Minister for graciously agreeing to inaugurate the Conference. His presence and the presence of the Chief Ministers underline the fact that all of us have recognised the usefulness of these annual meetings. In every meeting I have emphasised that the State Government is at the frontline of defending the internal security of the country. For example, on August 17, 2009 I said: “Nothing is more important than the assurance of security and none can contribute more to this sense of security than State Governments.”
It is customary to present a brief report on the internal security situation. We have shared with you notes on each item of the agenda. Hence, without repeating the facts and figures, I wish to place before you our assessment of the situation.
An overview would lead to the conclusion that violence had declined in 2011. Be it the North Eastern States, Jammu & Kashmir or LWE affected States, or the attempts to commit terrorist acts, there was indeed a decline in the number of incidents and the number of casualties. However, I must caution you that behind these figures lies a more worrying narrative - which is the spread and the reach of some adversaries, and their success in augmenting their weaponry and their military capabilities. The target is the Indian State and, naturally, every constituent of the Indian State, and, in his offensive, the adversary does not recognise State borders. His organisation does not match States’ territorial jurisdictions. And he makes no distinction between the Central Government and the State Governments.
The success stories of 2011 were the dramatic improvement in the internal security situation in Jammu & Kashmir and in the North Eastern States. Two factors seem to have turned the situation around: firstly, the effectiveness of the security forces and, secondly, our ability to reach out to the adversaries and convince them that the Indian political system allows space for every shade of opinion and has the capacity to resolve differences through talks and other constitutional means.
In J&K, we had a peaceful and splendid summer and winter and record numbers of tourists and pilgrims. In the North Eastern States, nearly all major groups are in talks with the Government. I am, therefore, confident that 2012 will see further advancement in bringing peace and development to these States.
At the last Conference, I had cautioned that there was no let-up in the attempts to strike terror whenever there was an opportunity. The International Border and the Line of Control in the West continue to remain vulnerable. Every week has witnessed attempts to infiltrate into India and new routes appear to have been opened via Nepal and Bangladesh.
There were two major terror attacks in 2011 – the serial blasts in Mumbai in July and the blast near the Delhi High Court in September. Thankfully, the conspiracies behind the two incidents have been unravelled and many suspects have been arrested. The chilling facts are that the principal suspects in the two cases are Indian nationals; they operated across States; and many of them had no previous criminal record. I have to conclude, regretfully, that thanks to radicalisation, there are many Indian groups which have acquired the capacity to carry out terror attacks.
Our security forces remained vigilant. In 2011, 18 terror modules were neutralised and 53 persons arrested. In the first three months of 2012, 3 modules were neutralised and 11 persons arrested. I wish to underline the fact that one half of the cases were cracked through the joint efforts of the Central Agencies and State police concerned. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the reality: at the operational level, there is no conflict between the Central Agencies and the State Police Forces. They work together, consult each other, share intelligence and, when necessary, mount joint operations to apprehend the suspects. In my view, such silent and invisible work of neutralising terrorist modules deserves as much praise as solving the terrorist cases.
What is a cause of worry, however, is that, in practically every case, a small section of the people springs to the support of persons who are detained for interrogation or arrested and charged. There is no apparent reason for such support other than the affinity of religion or sect. This is a dangerous trend and makes the task of the investigating agencies more difficult. I would, therefore, request you to join me in appealing to the people, and to the media, to observe caution and restraint and place faith in the integrity and impartiality of the investigation.
I shall now turn to the most formidable threat to internal security. It is Left Wing Extremism. The decline in the overall number of casualties among civilians and security forces in LWE-affected districts may give a false sense of assurance, but that is not the true picture. Two States are very badly affected, four States are affected and three States are within the arc of influence of the CPI (Maoist). Assam has emerged as the new theatre of Maoist activity. There are also inputs about the links of CPI (Maoist) with insurgent groups in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
In recent months, the security forces have made bold forays into hitherto forbidden territories such as Saranda Forest and Koel-Sankh in Jharkhand and Abuj-maad in Chhattisgarh. However, the results remain sub-optimal, especially in areas under the control of Area or Zonal Committees operating in Bihar-Jharkand-North Chhattisgarh, Andhra-Odisha and Dandakaranya. Jan Adalats and military training camps continue to be held with impunity. Economic infrastructure and so-called police informers continue to be targeted. Extortion is rampant. We have held frequent meetings with the DGPs and senior police officers of the affected States. I find that there is broad agreement on the two-pronged strategy of police action and developmental work, but, I am afraid, our capacity to execute the plans is not commensurate with the nature of the challenge.
The Integrated Action Plan launched in November, 2010, with an outlay of Rs.3300 crore over two years, has been an outstanding success, thanks to the drive and determination shown by the District Administrations. Still, we do not have the upper hand because there are not enough police stations; not enough men, weapons and vehicles; not enough infrastructure for the CAPFs; not enough roads; and not enough presence of the civil administration – especially in the health and education sectors. There is more work to be done, and I pledge the cooperation of the Central Government in helping the States to overcome the challenge of Left Wing Extremism.
The challenge of Left Wing Extremism has been compounded by the capacity of the CPI (Maoist) to promote a number of front organisations and win the support of civil society groups. They use every instrument that is available in a democracy – from freedom of speech to bandhs to judicial remedies. Several urban areas have emerged as new centres of pro-Maoist activities. Even while we continue with the two-pronged strategy, it is necessary to find ways and means to blunt the propaganda offensive launched by the CPI (Maoist).
I shall now briefly touch upon the communal situation. By and large, the situation was peaceful and the graph of incidents is declining. Yet, it pains me to note that in 2011 91 lives were lost and 1908 persons were injured in local communal conflicts. The so-called cause was usually trivial, but there were also cases of deliberate provocation. I urge State Governments to remain vigilant, impartial and firm.
Lastly, I wish to refer to the unfinished tasks and seek your cooperation in utilising the funds that are made available and completing the projects. The Modernisation of Police Force (MPF) scheme was allotted Rs.1,111 crore in 2011-12, but we had to surrender Rs.311 crore because some States had large unspent balances. For the current year, we have been able to secure Rs.900 crore and I would urge State Governments to address the deficiencies in the implementation of the scheme to help me request the Finance Minister for more funds.
In 2011-12, under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) and Security Infrastructure Scheme (SIS), the Central Government released Rs.883.51 crore and Rs.185.82 crore, respectively. Release of funds and implementation can be more effective if proposals are submitted at the beginning of the financial year and greater financial and administrative powers are delegated to the Director General of Police in the State.
I have a vision of the overall security architecture that the country needs and deserves. Some elements are in place, for example, the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) and the Subsidiary MACs at the State capitals. NATGRID is work in progress. CCTNS, under implementation since 2010, has reached the crucial milestone of selection of System Integrator, but only 16 out of 35 States/UTs have completed the task. On the other hand, the development of Core Application Software (CAS) has been completed, field testing is under way, and agreements have been signed to establish nation-wide connectivity. The sum of all these, I am afraid, is that while CCTNS is progressing, it is 9 months behind schedule.
The NSG has moved into its permanent headquarters at the four hubs. Soon, the NIA will set up new offices at Mumbai, Kochi and Lucknow. Other elements have to be put in place to complete the security architecture and I earnestly seek your cooperation and support in that regard.
The BPR&D has published the first-ever compilation of data on police organisations in India as on January 1, 2011. It is an illuminating study and captures the hard data on the state of police organisations. There were only 100 civil police for a population of 100,000. The vacancies in all ranks were 501,069 or about 25 per cent of the sanctioned strength. States spent about Rs.50,000 crore on the police in 2010-11, but that was only 4.76 per cent of the total budgeted expenditure of all States. Of this, only about Rs.700 crore was spent on training. The findings speak for themselves. The study is a wake-up call to all of us, and I would urge you to take the corrective steps that are so urgently needed in order to enhance our capacity to meet the challenges.
Before I close, I would once again like to underscore my firm belief that, bound by the Constitution of India and working together, we can make this country safe and secure; ensure peace and harmony; and create an environment that will promote faster and more inclusive growth.
May I now request the Hon’ble Prime Minister to inaugurate this Conference?