Speech by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the Annual Conference of State Directors General and Inspectors General of Police, New Delhi, September 30, 2002
"I am happy to be with you once again. This annual conference gives me an opportunity to interact with you on matters pertaining to the country’s internal security and the role of the police in ensuring the integrity of the nation and the safety of its citizens.
At the outset, my hearty congratulations to the recipients of the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. This singular honour has been conferred on you for the consistently high level of professional excellence exhibited by you in the discharge of your duty, often working anonymously and under extremely challenging circumstances. The Government reposes a great deal of faith and confidence in dedicated and meritorious officers like you.
I would also take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of those brave colleagues of yours who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation. Let us spare no effort to see that these martyrs’ families are well looked after. Let us rededicate ourselves to the task of preservation of the integrity and security of our country and ensure that our fallen colleagues have not died in vain.
Friends, the relative importance of internal security in national security has grown considerably in the past two decades. In the early decades of Independence, issues of internal security pertained mainly to law and order and were, largely, local in nature. In contrast, now the main threat to our internal security – namely, cross-border terrorism, fueled by religious extremism – draws its ideological sustenance, organizational patronage and operational support from outside our borders. To overcome this challenge, we have to fight our battle at various levels and with multiple means – diplomatically, politically, ideologically and, of course, on the ground with intelligence and firepower.
The past year has seen India make steady advances on all these fronts. This has made our adversary grow desperate. And desperation is leading it to become more and more dastardly in its losing war of terrorism against India.
The terrorist attack on India’s Parliament, preceded by an attack on the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly building in Srinagar, the carnage of innocent men, women and children in Kaluchak, Kasim Nagar and, most recently, the bloody sacrilege at the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar – all these signs of our enemy’s desperation. Needless to say, a good part of this desperation owes to the growing successes gained by our security forces in turning the heat on terrorist outfits and infiltration from across the border. I would like to specifically recognize the signal contribution of the police in conducting successful anti-terrorist operations.
In describing this phase of our battle, I recently stated that "terrorism is breathing its last breath". This has been misunderstood, or rather literally understood, in some quarters. The fact of the matter is that the world opinion has turned against terrorism in an unprecedented manner. The barbaric incidents of September 11 have opened the eyes of the global community to the grave threat that terrorism, fueled by religious extremism, poses to peace and stability in the world. In Afghanistan, the world community has clearly seen what happens to terrorism ultimately.
Worldwide, terrorism is being considered an evil per se, since the killing of innocent women, men and children cannot be justified on any ground. It has also become clear that terrorists are not social or political revolutionaries fired by any noble, universal ideals. It is increasingly recognized that terrorists have no religion; and that they actually commit blasphemy when they commit heinous crimes in the name of religion.
Thus, terrorism has failed to find any place in the conscience of human society. And what is rejected by society, cannot have an enduring life. Those who continue to support it will doubtlessly get isolated from the rest of humanity. It is in this sense, that I had remarked that terrorism is breathing its last breath.
Of course, before it actually dies and disappears from the world as a political instrument, it will continue to commit many more depredations. Therefore, we have to become more vigilant against this menace, and more determined to stamp it out.
Distinguished police officers,
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is at a turning point. I am confident that the State will leave the nightmare of militancy behind and return to peace, normalcy and development. We have seen it happen in Punjab, where the police and security forces, with the cooperation of the people, ultimately overcame the challenge of militancy.
In Jammu & Kashmir, we had pledged to hold free and fair elections to the State Assembly. The polling in the first two rounds so far has borne out this commitment. There was widespread fear psychosis created terrorist organizations backed by Pakistan. There were killings of candidates and political activists, intimidation of voters, calls for poll boycott. However, the people of Jammu & Kashmir braved all this to once again demonstrate that the bullet cannot defeat the ballot in a democracy.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not compliment the State Police, various para-military forces, the Army and the Intelligence agencies for doing a difficult and challenging job well. It was largely owing to their untiring and sustained good work that the electoral exercise in Jammu & Kashmir could be undertaken despite the terrorist threats to disrupt the process.
This will, however, not put an end to jehadi terrorism in that State. Therefore, our security forces will have to continue their good work on the ground to get the better of militancy. Simultaneously, we will intensify our diplomatic initiatives to remind the leading nations of the international coalition against terrorism that they must redeem their pledge to combat and defeat terrorism everywhere, irrespective of the cause it espouses. Which means, that Pakistan must be held accountable for its continued sponsorship of terrorism in India.
In several places in the North-East, we have been able to adopt a number of measures to bring the militants and insurgents back to the mainstream. Peace efforts with the NSCN/IM in Nagaland have made headway. Similar efforts are also on with the Bodos. I am happy to say, here also we have made considerable progress in working towards an amicable solution. Negotiations with a militant group from Karbi Anglong district of Assam have also been initiated. On a parallel track, we are trying to speed up all-round economic and infrastructural development in the North-East.
I commend the various state police forces, para-military forces, intelligence agencies and the Army for having done an exemplary job in the North-East in neutralizing a large number of militants, exposing their international linkages, fund raising networks and supply routes of military hardware.
It is a matter of concern that Left-wing extremism is spreading its tentacles in many parts of Central and Eastern States. It is also true that some States like Andhra Pradesh have undertaken sustained anti-extremist operations with fair degree of success. The affected States should pool their intelligence and experience, and undertake coordinated operations, on a sustained basis.
Friends, because terrorist and subversive forces can strike anywhere, the role of the police and state intelligence agencies in neutralizing them has become crucial. In addition, you are also called upon, from time to time, to tackle communal and caste strife, foil social and economic disorder, and deal with organized crime and white collar offences. You will agree with me that there is an urgent need for improving your performance in these functions.
What are the areas where improvements are required?
First, we must ensure a very high level of motivation and professional competence among the police – not just matching but surpassing that of the adversaries.
Second, they must remain apolitical, neutral, and free of sectarian, regional or any other kind of bias. They must consciously try to earn the trust of all sections of our society. In doing so, they not only become better policemen, but will also serve as a binding force for our diverse society.
This is especially true in areas sensitive to communal and caste tension. I appeal to you, the police leadership, to spare no pains in inculcating in your men a sense of duty for protecting communal harmony in the country. You should ensure that not even a small section of the police force gets carried away in a time of provocation.
Third, I cannot overemphasise the importance of training and re-training of our police, especially at the lower and middle levels. This aspect is much neglected in many States. I am told that, at the time of Independence, the professional competence of the provincial police forces in some States was almost as high as the Central forces’. Unfortunately, there has been much decline in this over the years. I urge the State Governments and, especially, the leadership of the police forces, to take urgent measures to arrest and reverse this situation.
Fourth, intelligence sharing between the Centre and the States and among States themselves is another area where much improvement is possible. As you are aware, in the aftermath of the Kargil War, a Group of Ministers undertook a detailed review of the functioning of our intelligence agencies. Its recommendations are now under implementation. Additional resources have also been approved. Closer interaction between the Central and State Police and intelligence outfits has been initiated. I am told that the response to this joint endeavour has been extremely encouraging.
However, I cannot help express my deep disappointment over the poor utilization of the Rs. 1000 crore fund made available for the Scheme for Modernization of State Police Forces. The utilization in some States is nil! This situation is unacceptable, intolerable.
One suggestion is that the Central Government gives a good part of the fund in kind – weaponry, wireless sets, etc. – to States. Another is to increase the Central Government’s role, with attendant financial responsibility, in training the police personnel. I would like the Home Ministry to review the working of this Scheme, identify the bottlenecks, and introduce corrective measures soon.
Before I conclude, I would like to briefly touch upon one issue which is of much concern to the citizenry. And that is the image of the police in the public eye. I urge upon you to consider with all seriousness every possible means to make the police responsive to the needs of the common people, the simple village folk dotted across the country. The image of the police of being brutal and insensitive has to give way to a people friendly one. The man in the street, the weak, the infirm and the poorest of the poor must feel safe and comfortable to approach the police whenever he is in need of help, especially against the breakers of law.
A majority of police personnel are undoubtedly honest and people-friendly. However, it is the misdeeds of some which often sully the reputation of the entire police force. You are the leaders of the police force in States. You know what corrective steps to take. I only urge you to take them with a sense of urgency and purpose.
With these words, I convey my best wishes to your conference".
September 30, 2002