Prime Minister's remarks on Internal Security at Chief Minister's Conference
Prime Minister's remarks on Internal Security at Chief Minister's Conference
September 5, 2006
1. I would like to thank Shri Shivraj Patilji and all of you present here for this opportunity to discuss the internal security situation. Unfortunately, problems have become more complex since we met a few months back in April. Our foremost concern to-day is internal security. The Centre and the States must jointly find solutions to the problems we face.
2. We confront a wide array of complex internal security problems and threats. Each of these need to be dealt with in different ways. Increasingly also, they call for closer cooperation between the Centre and the States, since problems are no longer confined to a single State but encompass several States. Integrated functioning in a federal set up such as ours, where law and order is a State subject, is not easy but we must find ways and means to deal with this situation and rethink some of our past practices.
3. You are more knowledgeable than we are the Centre about the real dimensions of internal security problems, and the kind of challenges they are beginning to pose to our pluralist democracy, social fabric and public order. To-day I wish to listen carefully to what you have to say, and at the end of our deliberations we should be able to produce a road-map as also effective plans to meet the myriad challenges we face.
4. Shivrajji briefed the Union Cabinet last week on the prevailing situation. A number of proposals to improve matters were also outlined. The main stress was on capacity building and improving the capability of the States (as also that of the Centre) to deal with current and future problems. Capacity-building at the State level is most crucial, and if there are any financial constraints, the Centre would be willing to provide necessary assistance. Our understanding, however, is that the States are not doing enough even regarding the filling up of existing vacancies in the Police and other law and order agencies, or improving the quality of the State Special Branches, or toning up the law and order administration. Without effective law and order, economic development would be impossible. We must not, therefore, neglect this aspect.
5. I also recommend to you paying more attention to improving the ‘software’ needed for the maintenance of peace. I mean by this, improving intelligence generation and collection, as also the overall strengthening of your intelligence mechanism. Analytical capabilities need to be enhanced. Proper benchmarks need to be established against which progress and performance can be measured. Unless you devote personal attention to these matters, results cannot be expected.
Internal Security Subjects
6. I propose to-day to concentrate mainly on Left wing extremism, terrorism, and how to assuage feelings of insecurity among our minorities, specially Muslims. We will also review developments in the North East and Jammu & Kashmir.
7. Regarding the latter, I would ask the Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States and J&K to recognize a fundamental reality, viz. that in dealing with problems of peripheral States and societies, we need to be specially sensitive to the nuances of each situation, and the encyclopedic character of regional and tribal demands which, if not anticipated and dealt with in time, could culminate in a full-fledged militancy. States like Manipur and Nagaland in the North East appear specially vulnerable to-day, and demand your personal attention. There is little scope for personal predilections that over-ride national considerations and requirements.
8. The same can be said of J&K. Even though the situation has shown signs of improvements these past two years, we should remain on our guard in view of continuing efforts by anti-India and anti-national elements to whip-up emotions and transform these into a violent movement. I hope to hear from the Chief Ministers in the North East and J&K their perception of the situation and how they propose to handle the delicate situation that prevails in their region.
9. My approach to the Naxalite problem is that we need a blend of firm, but sophisticated, handling of Naxalite violence with sensitive handling of the developmental aspects. It is in the most neglected areas of the country that Left wing extremism thrives today. These are also the main recruiting grounds for naxalite outfits. While Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are in the fore-front of Naxal-related activities to-day, many other States remain vulnerable. Chief Ministers must personally take in hand what deliverables are possible even while preparing to meet Naxalite violence through effective law & order measures.
10. The real key in fighting Naxalite violence is ‘good’ intelligence. This would involve effective integration of strategic and tactical intelligence, properly leavened with ground level information available at the level of the Police Station. The Police is the first responder in Naxal-related situations, and is a very important pole in this entire effort. Sensitizing the Police is, therefore, a critical requirement.
11. Special training for Forces engaged in Naxalite operations is to my mind equally important. I am aware that Andhra Pradesh has an excellent training establishment for anti-Naxalite operations, but I would like to hear from the rest of you what has been done in your States in this respect.
12. Here, I would like to make a suggestion for your consideration. I propose the constitution of an ‘Empowered Group’ of Ministers which could be headed by the Home Minister, and include select Chief Ministers, to closely monitor the spread of the Naxalite movement. The Group could meet at frequent intervals and review special measures that need to be taken, nature of assistance to be provided exchange of personnel between States.
13. Concern about the increasing activities of externally-inspired - and directed - terrorist outfits in the country is justified. Intelligence Agencies warn of a further intensification of violent activities on their part, with the possibility of more ‘fidayeen’ attacks; use of suicide bombers; attacks on economic and religious targets; targeting of vital installations, including nuclear establishments, Army Camps; and the like. Reports also suggest that terrorist modules and ‘sleeper cells’ exist in some of our urban areas, all of which highlight the seriousness of the threat.
14. These are serious matters and we must find ways and means to deal with these de-centralised micro-terrorist outfits. This will necessitate greater alertness on the part of the States and local Intelligence Agencies, as also the Police who have a locational advantage. Unless the ‘beat constable’ is brought into the vortex of our counter-terrorist strategy, our capacity to pre-empt future attacks would be severely limited.
15. In the battle against terrorism, the role of the public will be vital. A major effort is necessary on our part to sensitise the public into becoming allies in this war and persuade some of them to function as counter-terrorist ‘wardens’, who would report on any kind of unusual activity. Similarly, co-opting the media and getting them to play more positive role would be useful and this should form part of an overall media management strategy. None of this will, however, happen without your personal direction and involvement.
Insecurity among Muslims
16. On the prevailing insecurity among minorities, specially Muslims, I can say that the adverse consequences of this can be extremely deleterious for our polity. The responsibility to ensure that this does not happen lies squarely upon all of us. It is unfortunate that terrorism has resulted in certain sections of our population being targeted, with the result that a wrong impression has been created of the radicalization of the entire Muslim community. It is, hence, imperative that we embark immediately upon a pro-active policy to ensure that a few individual acts do not result in tarnishing the image of an entire community, and remove any feelings of persecution and alienation from the minds of the minorities.
17. All religions recognize the existence of certain ‘sacred values’. We should seek to highlight the commonality of such ‘sacred values’ and campaign against pernicious ideas and philosophies such as the “clash of civilizations”. Instead we should propagate the idea of a ‘confluence of civilizations’. ‘Sacred values’ are ideals which are transcendental in nature. We should encourage sober elements in all communities to agree to a proper articulation of ‘sacred values’ for dissemination among people. Both education and the mass media must be actively encouraged to promote this integrated vision.
18. We must recognize that the Muslim community in large parts of our country nurses a strong grievance of not having been an active participant and beneficiaries of processes of social and economic development. All of us have an obligation to redress legitimate grievances of our minorities. CMs must pay personal attention to ensuring that our minorities are effective partners in processes of social and economic change. In dealing with terrorism, scrupulous regard and respect for fundamental human rights of citizens, particularly of minority communities, ought to be a core concern of our law enforcement agencies. No innocent person should be harassed in our struggle against terrorism. If a mistake is made, effective remedial corrective measures must be taken well in time. Government agencies, particularly law enforcement agencies must establish intimate contacts with community leaders and show adequate sensitivity to their concerns. CMs ought to put in place effective mechanisms to achieve these objectives. I would now ask you to respond to these ideas and suggestions.
September 5, 2006