Prime Minister's speech at the Conference
of Chief Ministers on Internal Security and Law & Order
On April 15, 2005, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh,
addressed the Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security
and Law & Order in New Delhi. Presented below is the full text
of his speech:
PM’s address at the CM's
April 15, 2005
"When I was a student,
in England some 50 years ago, one of my great teachers Lord Nicholas
Kaldor used to say that the progress of a country depends critically
on the mind-sets and motivation of those who are charged with the responsibility
of making the critical decisions in the life of a nation. We have assembled
in this room, men and women, whose collective weight, I am convinced,
can reshape the destiny of our country. I am firmly of the view that
international environment for India’s accelerated development was never
as favourable as it is now. There is lot of resources which are ready
to flow into our country, provided we can take the critical decisions,
provide peace and security, create a congenial atmosphere, secure and
rewarding and working together, as I said we can reshape the destiny
of this country. Make this country free from the scourge of war, want
and exploitation. I am therefore, delighted to welcome you all once
again to New Delhi. At the previous Conference of Chief Ministers, we
discussed problems relating to rural development and panchayat raj.
Our Government has made an explicit commitment to give a "New Deal
To Rural India" and this is, I believe, our most important common
priority. I had an opportunity once again to outline our perspective
in this regard at the Agriculture Summit in New Delhi last week convened
by the Hon’ble Minister for Food and Agriculture . I have also had the
opportunity of sharing my thoughts with some of you at meetings where
we set out our agenda for education, for health care and for infrastructure
development. As I had said in my very first address to the Nation as
Prime Minister these key areas of development remain our most urgent
and important national priorities.
Today, we meet to discuss
an equally important area of public policy, namely internal security
and law and order. Development and security are truly mutually inter-related.
We need therefore, to evolve a combined strategy to deal simultaneously
with the twin challenges of development and security within the framework
of a democratic polity committed to respect for all fundamental human
freedoms and also committed to upholding the rule of law. Our experience
with democracy has so far been unique and all over the world, there
is growing appreciation of the way we have stayed faithful to the vision
of the founding fathers of our republic in carrying forward the tasks
of democratic values. There is today, a recognition, all over the world,
there is no other developing country in the world, of a billion people,
as diverse as ours, that has successfully worked a democratic system
dedicated to the rule of law. India’s example and experience in this
regard will hold lessons for the world as the 21st Century moves on.
Yet, there are challenges
that our democracy faces. These challenges arise partly as a consequence
of the unevenness of our growth processes, the inequities that remain
in our social institutions and the shortcomings sometimes of our political
institutions. Often these challenges also arise because we are an open
society and have allowed free expression to dissent of varying degrees.
This is not our weakness. This is our strength. But in this also lies
the challenge that we need to deal with and grapple with effectively.
A democratic government
has to make a distinction between the genuine and legitimate expression
of dissent and disaffection and the manifestations of anti-national,
anti-social and anti-people threats to our democratic way of life. There
are today many challenges to internal security: criminal activity, extremism,
insurgency, terrorism, communal violence and atrocities against women,
SCs and STs. Our security forces are duty bound to deal with crime and
law and order problems within the framework of clearly spelt out laws.
Insurgency and extremism, on the other hand, have a political dimension
that often requires the political management of a security situation.
We have time and again attempted this in the North-East and in Naxalite
affected areas. The challenge of terrorism must be faced squarely and
resolutely by all shades of political opinion. There can be no political
compromise with terror. No inch conceded. No compassion shown. The people
of India have suffered a great deal at the hands of terrorists and our
Government and I am sure, I speak for all the Chief Ministers represented
here, is resolute in its determination to wipe out this threat to a
civilized and democratic way of life. There are no good terrorists and
bad terrorists. There is no cause, root or branch, that can ever justify
the killing of innocent people. No democratic Government can tolerate
the use of violence against innocent people and against the functionaries
of a duly established democratic Government.
Extremism is not merely
a Law and Order issue. This we recognize. Development, or rather the
lack of it, often has a critical bearing, as do exploitation and iniquitous
socio-political circumstances. Inadequate employment opportunities,
lack of access to resources, under developed agriculture, artificially
depressed wages, geographical isolation, lack of effective land reforms
may all impinge significantly on the growth of extremism. There may
be other more complex issues like language, ethnicity, caste or religion
or cultural rights. In this complex world, that we live in, all these
facets have to be taken into account in evolving a concerted and effective
strategy to counter these challenges.
Whatever be the cause,
it is difficult to deny that extremism has huge societal costs. Investments
are unlikely to fructify, employment is not likely to grow and educational
facilities may be impaired. Direct costs would include higher costs
of infrastructure creation as contractors build "extortions"
into their estimates, consumers may be hurt due to erratic supplies
and artificial levies. In all, the society at large and people at large
Delivery systems are often
the first casualty. Schools do not run, dispensaries do not open and
PDS shops remain closed. Public service providers can now ascribe all
their inefficiencies to "extremism". In many cases, "extremist"
areas also appear to be closely associated with a lack of strong participatory
mechanism. Panchayats in these areas, are generally weak and even where
they do exist, not enough powers are delegated. Panchayats are important
from another angle. They create room for political action - by mainstream
political parties, by NGOs and civil society. Generally, traditional
headmen and village institutions are treated with respect even by extremists.
Ideologically driven movements do exploit the vacant spaces caused by
the absence of mainstream political formations at the grass roots level.
When genuine dissent becomes
extremism there can be no ambivalence about tackling it, even if it
be only symptomatic. The Chief Ministers, I urge, should recognise these
different facets of the security threats we face and develop effective
policies designed to address them. Our citizens are free to choose the
particular brand of politics they wish to follow, they have the freedom
to take recourse to collective action to achieve the social, political
or economic changes that they desire, but no one is either permitted
or expected to resort to violence to achieve these ends or to try and
prevent elected functionaries from doing what they are supposed to do.
This should be made amply clear in our policy announcements. Talks and
negotiations should always be welcomed. I have repeatedly stressed that
we are ready to talk to any group that abjures violence.
But the basic issues regarding
violence and the State’s obligations to curb it, should be clarified
at the outset, so that there are no misunderstandings or a feeling of
being let down at later stages. In our country, symbols and gestures
matter. Nothing should be done which detracts from the authority of
the Indian state and its primary role as an upholder of public order.
The State should not even remotely be seen to back away in the face
of threats of armed violence. We need to be firm, but not transgress
the limits of human rights or dignity. We must prevent our society from
being brutalised. However, legitimate needs and aspirations, even if
set out in procedurally or presentationally inappropriate terms, should
be examined with care and with sympathy because we are dealing after
all, with our own people, even though they may have strayed from the
path of rectitude.
You, represent both political
and administrative leadership. We must, therefore, do all we can, to
evolve the required policies, frame the action programmes and deliver
the outputs. This is our common goal, this is our common objective.
We must empathise with the underlying causes and be able to tactfully
handle the strong feeling arising out of long-standing deprivation or
neglect of certain regions or certain classes. But we should also be
uncompromising in our resolve, to uphold the position of the duly elected
governments. The need for a focussed, compact, multi disciplinary group
to handle such a complex issue, cannot be over-emphasized. This group
both at the official level and at the political level, should have strong
political leadership and backing and should, under all circumstances,
have direct access to the highest political executive.
I have repeatedly emphasized
the importance of good governance. This entails effective, if humane
maintenance of law and order and efficient policing. I urge your Conference
to also deliberate upon the need for police reforms. A well-trained,
sensitive, citizen-friendly, but, firm police force is a necessary element
of good governance. The Government has at its disposal the wisdom of
many committees of enquiry and study on police reforms. I urge Chief
Ministers to give the recommendations of existing committees utmost
importance and initiate the required reform, in training, in service
conditions, in career progression, in technical support and, finally,
in depoliticising to the maximum extent possible, the functioning of
our police forces.
I must pay tribute to the
courage, the dedication and commitment of our police and other security
forces, especially in parts of the country that have been disturbed
by anti-national and anti-social forces. I salute the courage and commitment
of the security forces in our border States where they have had to deal
with cross-border infiltration by extremist elements . The Home Minister
has drawn our attention to the fact that in the last one year we have
seen a marked decline in infiltration and in violence in Jammu &
Kashmir. I compliment, his ministry, our security forces and our State
Governments for this track record. Notwithstanding, the recent dastardly
attempt to disrupt the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad
by terrorist elements, the people of Jammu and Kashmir came out onto
the streets as one, to welcome this gesture of reconciliation. I hope
the terrorists and extremists in the region have grasped the mood of
the people and will not try to disrupt this bus service again. I do
believe that it is the joint responsibility of the Governments of India
and Pakistan, and of the local authorities on both sides of the line
of control to work together in providing full security cover to the
bus service, which is a service for peace, and for promotion of reconciliation.
I sincerely hope that we can work together in protecting the lives of
innocent people and in fighting the sources of terrorism in the region.
We have also seen a decline
in extremist violence and restoration of normalcy in many parts of the
North-East including Manipur and Assam. I sincerely believe, this region
is ripe for accelerated and economic development provided we can ensure
peace and security. Destiny beckons the North-East to become an active
bridge between South Asia and East Asia, at a time when this Century
is going to be an Asian Century. I hope all shades of political opinion
in the region will grasp this opportunity and help us, join hands with
us, and bring peace and prosperity to the region as a whole. I reiterate
once again that violence and the use of force cannot win the rewards
that insurgents and extremists seek. Our Governments will deal firmly
with insurgency. However, we are willing to conduct an honest and meaningful
dialogue with any group that abjures the path of violence and is willing
to engage in a dialogue.
I am aware that many of
you, Hon’ble Chief Ministers, are grappling with the threat of Naxalism.
We cannot ignore the fact that the threat of naxalism is geographically
spread out to the more backward regions and districts of our country.
Hence, our strategy to tackle this threat to law and order in these
districts and regions will have to be to "walk on two legs":
To implement programmes and policies that address the pressing needs
and demands of the people, especially the scheduled tribes and scheduled
castes; and, at the same time, to ensure effective policing and maintenance
of law and order. The speedy implementation of land reforms, the redistribution
of land, the assurance of tribal rights to forest produce, implementation
of development projects and spread of mass education and health facilities
are all important steps we must take.
At the same time, we cannot
ignore the inter-State and external dimension to Naxalism today. This
requires greater coordination between State governments and between
the Centre and States. We have to take a comprehensive approach in dealing
with Naxalism given the emerging linkages between groups within and
outside the country, that the Home Minister has referred to. I also
draw your attention to the Home Minister’s perceptive observations on
the nexus between terrorist groups, organized crime syndicates, drug
trafficking and external forces interested in destabilizing our polity.
I strongly urge leaders of all political parties to ensure that such
forces and groups are kept away from our political processes. We need
to have zero-tolerance for criminalisation of politics in our country.
I am happy to note that
the incidence of communal violence has come down in recent months. Our
Government, and I am confident, I speak for all of you, are firmly committed
to the assurance of security to all our citizens irrespective of caste
or religion. We are doubly committed to the protection of the lives
and livelihood of all Minorities. We have stood tall as a Nation because
of the fact that we are the world’s most successfully functioning multi-cultural,
multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious democracy. There is no
precedent elsewhere, in the history of the world, where billion people
are trying to realise their destiny in the framework of an open society
and an open economy. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, the custodians
of our Nation, to ensure that this precious character of our Nationhood
is not weakened by forces of bigotry and chauvinism. Our security forces
must remain sensitive to this and act decisively in the face of any
challenge to communal peace and harmony. Every citizen has a right to
demand and secure the protection of our police and security forces.
Continuing crimes against
weaker sections, particularly women and children and Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes are a matter of disgrace in a civilized society.
Deeply concerned about the historical injustices faced by the weaker
sections of the society, our founding fathers had made provisions in
our Constitution for protecting their interests and prohibiting discrimination
on the grounds of race and caste. Despite our best intentions and efforts,
unfortunately, the crimes against these sections of society still persist.
This calls for serious introspection and a comprehensive review of the
strategies adopted so far and an analysis of the factors that have been
responsible for this unfortunate trend continuing. Both the Central
and State Governments need to collaboratively work out a comprehensive
plan of action and take all necessary measures for preventing crimes
against the vulnerable sections of society particularly, our women.
Finally, I urge, all Chief
Ministers to pay special attention to intelligence gathering and the
modernization of our intelligence services and security forces. We live
in an era, where human knowledge is growing at an unprecedented pace,
the developments in communication, transportation, technologies, today
enabled anti-social terrorist elements to have access to most sensitive
technologies to indulge in their nefarious activities. Our intelligence
gathering and our security apparatus must rise to the occasion to meet
this challenge. The timely availability of reliable information is a
key weapon in the defence of national security. Our intelligence gathering
agencies have a creditable track record of human intelligence as well
as the use of new technologies. But we need to do a lot more in this
area. We can not rest on our laurels and must constantly improve our
skills and capabilities. There has to be much better integration and
coordination of work between different intelligence agencies, between
such agencies and security forces, between the Centre and the States
and among States.
and training in tackling new dimensions to national security, like economic
security, cyber-security, energy security, container security and such
like must get their due attention. We must equip ourselves better in
dealing with the extant and emerging challenges in all these areas.
The challenge of internal
security is our biggest national security challenge today. We have complete
and total confidence in our capability and ability to take on any challenge
to our national security from outside the country. We are proud of our
gallant armed forces. We will also address resolutely the external threats
to internal security and fight terrorism and the ideology of terror.
In dealing with this, and other manifestations of criminal activity,
extremism and insurgency, I urge you, Chief Ministers, to function as
a cohesive team, work on a war-footing and pay the highest attention
to the challenges of internal security.
In conclusion, I would
like to reiterate the two key themes running through my address. Firstly,
there is no place for violence and extremism of any kind in a democratic,
rule-based society. One should not be ambivalent about this and we must
be firm in sending this signal to all groups treading the forbidden
path. At the same time, we must realize that disaffection and alienation
are a result of pent up grievances against economic and social deprivation.
Therefore, the onus is on all of us to provide good, effective governance
that provides a ray of hope to all and a stake in our collective future.
I wish your deliberations
all success. "
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