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Speech of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, November 22, 2008

Text of the inaugural speech of the Union Home Minister at the two-day conference of Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police at New Delhi on November 22, 2008.

"I am happy to declare, at the outset only, that this Conference is inaugurated. I wish the Conference all the best.

I wish to salute the memory of all those, who have laid down their lives, in the service of the nation and for protecting the lives and properties of others and to see that law and order is protected and preserved.

This is for the fifth time in five years, I am attending this Conference. It is always a pleasure to attend it and hear the views and concepts put forth by the participants. I hope that, this year also, the Conference would prove to be equally useful and interesting.

I would like to congratulate the officers and men of Intelligence Bureau, who have been awarded the Indian Police Medal for their meritorious service, on the occasion of Independence Day of 2007 and the Republic Day of 2008. The Governments and the people have highest regard for the sincerity and dedication exhibited by these officers, who have been discharging their duties in a low key manner and without direct and instantaneous public recognition. I am confident that these awards would motivate and encourage other I.B. personnel to excel in their field work.

Since we met last year, Assembly Elections have been held in six States, including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the elections were conducted peacefully in all these States. Substantial credit for the smooth completion of the election process goes to our Police and Central Para-Military Forces. I have no doubt in my mind that the current phase of Assembly Elections in the States of Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan will also be conducted peacefully with your cooperation.

You, who are participating in this Conference, are Senior officers of our police forces. You know the laws of the country, the strength of the forces, the problems they have to face, the expectations of the people, the complications involved in the issues that have to be faced and solved, the trends in the fields of technologies and the kinds of crimes that are likely to be committed in the days to come, the psychologies of the victims and the criminals and the people at large. The fund of knowledge you have acquired through your experiences is very valuable and is going to help you to advise the Governments and the people to deal with the issues relevant to the security. This Conference provides you a national forum which can be used by you to exchange your notes and views and enrich your understanding of the situations and solutions to be found out and to use.

As explained by DIB in his speech, it is proposed to concentrate on a theme which is being discussed very widely and the theme is Terrorism. You have done well in selecting this theme for your discussion.

There was a time when the countries of the world discussed the problems and issues, relevant to war and as to how to avoid it, control it and save the humanity from it. Fortunately, it appears that the countries of the world have succeeded in achieving the objectives of avoiding war, to a great extent and that has given a big relief to the peace loving people of the world. However, unfortunately, it appears that some people who are narrow minded, interested in protecting their greed, who are misinformed about the basic issues of culture and religion, who have wrong notions about the sovereignty of states and given to separatism of all kinds, have begun to use modern technologies, equipments, weapons, explosives, transport and communication facilities, the power of disseminating information, to terrorize the innocent, the weak, the non-suspecting human beings and are destroying valuable properties, lives and limbs of human beings. This is happening in almost all countries of the world and in India also, and is being perpetrated in the name of religion, culture, community, caste, political and economic ideologies and such other concepts. Therefore, the countries of the world have to join hands to defeat these kinds of ideologies, in the interest of peace and tranquility everywhere. However, it is found that in some countries, it is resorted to, to weaken other countries and advance and protect their own nefarious designs. If the countries of the world show willingness to exchange information regarding the terrorists designs and to refuse to provide shelter in their countries to terrorists and decide not to allow the funds to flow from one part of the world to the other and also to refuse to give small arms and explosives to the terrorists, terrorism can be controlled in a better manner.

In India, terrorism is visible in Jammu & Kashmir, in the North Eastern States, in some States which are covered with thick forests and which are not developed as other parts of the country are, in hinterland and in some cities of importance, for trading and industrial activities. These days, the terrorism is discussed a great deal in the media and is highlighted on a very large scale, creating awareness about it and alerting us all to take steps to control and nip it in the bud. We have, therefore, to pay adequate attention to it and counter it effectively. Fortunately, the number of incidents and casualties that have occurred in the last four and half years is much less than those that occurred in the four and half years, before the present period. Yet, the impression created is that terrorism has increased and is not reduced. Even if one incident occurs or one person becomes a casualty, it should cause us concern and should make us alert. However, it should not demoralize us and give wrong impression to the uninformed section of the society. What is happening in our country should be studied by us to find effective solutions to the existing problems.

The questions that require our immediate attention are: What can be done? What should be done? Where and by whom, the steps should be taken? In what fashion, the matters should be dealt with? What should be our short, medium and long term plans prepared for this purpose? How the Governments should cooperate with one another? How should they obtain the cooperation of the people? What are the deficiencies? How should they be removed?

On these issues, decisions are taken by the Governments. Directors General and other officers can help in taking the necessary decisions.

The Governments have to provide more funds in their plans and budgets, for strengthening the forces, for having more police stations, for establishing more training centres, for modernizing the transport and communication facilities. Once that is done, the Heads of the Forces have to see that the funds provided to them are utilized in time. If the funds given by the Union or State Governments remain unutilized, the purpose of strengthening the forces cannot be fulfilled. In the forces, there are many vacancies which have remained unfilled for many years. If the number of vacancies is around one lakh, we need to take immediate actions to fill them. In this respect, the Directors General of the Forces can help. It is not possible to discuss all the details and deficiencies relating to vacancies. They should be discussed and overcome, by the Heads of the Forces in cooperation with their Governments.

The Police-Population ratio in India is not very comfortable. In order to improve upon the ratio, some other schemes and methods should be invented and used. In order to overcome the deficiencies of officers and men, it should be possible to have schemes, to have on contract the retired officers and men, to help the forces. The schemes for these purposes can be made by the concerned Governments on the basis of advice given by the members of the Forces.

Terrorist activities are perpetrated in the areas which are close to international borders, in the areas covered with thick forests, in the areas which do not have good transport facilities and in cities. It is necessary to have plans and schemes to deal with them in these areas. The speedy means of transport should be provided for this purpose. Helicopter and planes can be made available to the forces to reach the places where they are needed in time.

In big cities, different methods need be used. In mega cities, large number of CCTV cameras should be used. The big cities should have Control Rooms, Mobile Police Stations and the cooperation of the Unions and Associations of the employees, traders, industrialists and professionals to get the necessary information and other help in time. The cities are being attacked and are likely to be attacked more in future. So, plans to provide special kind of security arrangements for cities should be made and used.

Terrorists have begun to use military tactics. The police use police methods and strategies to deal with the criminals. It has, therefore, become necessary to impart knowledge in tactics to the police, which can help in countering terrorists in an effective manner.

The Union Government has decided to raise COBRA Battalions. The State Governments are also expected to have a portion of their forces trained for countering the terrorist activities. We know that the States, which have trained their police for countering terrorist activities have succeeded in giving better results. It would be useful if all States, at least all states which are affected by terrorist menace, do take special steps to raise special kind of forces for countering terrorism.

Terrorists depend upon their ability to create fear psychosis. They are choosing the targets which can lead to the disturbance of bigger and more complicated nature. That is why they appear to be attacking the places of religious nature, so that conflicts between the people belonging to different religions or communities can be created. The Police have to bear this aspect in their minds, while dealing with terrorists, while investigating the incidents and while informing the people about their activities and investigations, which are not completed. If care is not taken in this respect, terrorists may succeed in achieving their nefarious objectives.

Religions or cultures do not preach terrorism. Terrorism is nothing but a kind of violent cowardice. It is different from taking a firm stand with respect to that on which you have full confidence and firm belief. But, terrorists want to use the psychology of unsuspecting and innocent persons to flare up communal disturbances. The police should never forget this and should take proper action.

At present, terrorists are using sophisticated small weapons and explosive devices to perpetrate terror. In future, they are likely to use nuclear, biological and chemical devices and other mechanical and psychological devices. The police forces should be trained to cope up with these kinds of problems and incidents. If they are not trained and prepared before such incidents begin to occur, the loss caused to the lives, limbs and properties of the innocent persons would be of enormous nature. It is, therefore, necessary to have plans and projects prepared for this purpose in advance.

Cooperation between the states and their forces to control terrorism is necessary. Each State can have a nodal officer, who can deal with his counterparts in other states. If laws are needed to be amended for facilitating cooperation between the states, that should be done. The neighbouring states can prepare plans to control terrorism in cooperation with one another.

The cooperation between the Union and its forces and the states and their forces is also needed. In fact, fortunately, they are cooperating with one another.

The Union guards international borders of our country. It gives forces to States to deal with incidents that occur every now and then. The Union helps the States to raise IR Battalions, which should be raised without delays. At present, that is not happening. It gives funds to the states to modernize their forces, prisons and strengthen their criminal justice system. The funds given should be utilized. The forces sent to the States should be returned after the period for which they are given. If this has to happen, the states have to strengthen their forces. In fact, the States should have more officers and men for this purpose and should not think of saving money by allowing vacancies to remain unfilled.

The best weapon, which can be used to counter terrorism, is intelligence. No other device or weapon can be as useful as intelligence can be. Unfortunately, the machinery, which is with the States, is not strong enough to collect the intelligence. Their Special Branches and the CID are not fully manned, and provided with modern devices. It is, therefore, necessary to strengthen them without delays. The Union Intelligence agencies are stronger and better equipped. But, they also need be strengthened further. Steps are being taken to strengthen them.

The States and the Union help one another, in sharing the intelligence. What is given by the Union to the States is not always of operational nature. Some times, misunderstanding develop0s when such matters are discussed publicly. In fact, the terrorists choose the time and place of their choice to attack. The operational intelligence is not always easy to obtain. However, it is necessary to develop the capability for this purpose.

Many other persons who are not in government services can also help in collecting intelligence. If the people are sensitized to discharge their duties in this respect, it would be very helpful.

It is seen that terrorists live in one State, perpetrate terror in another State and hide themselves in other States or other countries. They can be prevented from perpetrating terror or investigating crimes committed by them without delays and in an effective manner, if a Central agency for this purpose is created and allowed to act, by amending laws, if necessary. Such a central agency need not be allowed to take charge of ordinary criminal cases. It can be permitted to act in special kinds of cases, with the approval of some bodies, created to decide which kind of cases or which cases should be tackled by it. For this purpose, the cooperation of the States would be needed. Let us hope that it would become available sooner than later.

We have laws, which have provisions to deal with terrorism. They should be used properly. It is suggested by some in the country that a special law may be enacted for this purpose. POTA was such a law. It was enacted and used. When it was repealed, some relevant chapters in it were transferred into the Unlawful Activities Prevention Law, lock, stock and barrel. The chapters have provisions useful to control terrorist activities, free flow of funds to the terrorist groups and relating to the admissibility of certain kinds of evidence collected with the help of electronic equipments and some such other matters.

There were provisions in POTA which went against the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence relating to the onus of proof and admissibility of the confessions, not made according to the principles adopted in the Criminal Procedure Code.

It is not possible to have a law like POTA on the statute book. The relevant provisions in POTA, needed to control terrorism have been introduced and retained in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

If some other kinds of provisions are required to facilitate investigation of the cases relating to terrorism and which do not go against the basic principles of criminal justice system and the Human Rights, there may not be any difficulty in having them in the existing laws. The matter is being looked into for appropriate decision. Anything done in this respect should not solve only a few problems and create many more problems. The experts and experienced persons are looking into the needs of the investigating agencies, to make the laws more helpful in finding out real culprits and preventing their activities. Law making is a balancing act, which should aim at doing real justice which means punishment of the culprits and the protection of the innocent, solve problems and not creating more problems. If real culprits are punished, terrorism will be controlled. If innocent persons are punished, terrorism may find justification to exist, which should be avoided. The Union Government would definitely help the investigating agencies to do their duties in the best possible manner, without jeopardizing liberty, life and property of the innocent.

It seems that you are going to discuss terrorism in J&K, North Eastern States, in States affected by Naxalism. Information regarding the situations in different parts of the terrorism affected States, the policies that are used to tackle it, in brief, and the funds provided by the Union to the States to tackle it and to modernize the forces, is given in the booklets that are given to you. If you go through them and compare the facts and figures of the last eight years, you would find that the situations in these states have not worsened, but in some States it has improved. This fact should be borne in mind, while trying to make correct assessment and to find correct solutions.

In J&K, the situation has improved a great deal. It has happened because of the policies of the Union and the State Governments, the efforts done by the State Police, Para-Military Forces, the Military and the People and the fence erected on the borders between India and our western neighbour and also because of the fatigue developed in the minds and hearts of the persons responsible for bloodshed and destruction.

In the North Eastern region, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram are quite normal and peaceful as other states are. Tripura has improved by nearly forty per cent. Assam, Nagaland and Manipur continue to suffer as they used to do in the past. Nagaland and Manipur situations indicate slight improvement. Assam does not indicate satisfactory improvement. All the three states have common international border.

Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar have been suffering because of naxal activities. In Andhra Pradesh, the situation has improved by nearly sixty percent, because of the efforts done by the police and the training given to the members of their forces and the policies of the State. Nearly, more than sixty percent of naxal activity is found in two states alone i.e., Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Even in each of these two states, only two districts contribute to nearly sixty percent of terrorism. In Bihar, the situation has improved by nearly more than forty percent. In Orissa, the situation has deteriorated. In Maharashtra, the graph of terrorism has gone up a bit. If we take the total number of incidents and casualties in these states, it appears that the graph has remained at the same level.

Naxalism in India is presented by some, in a manner which does not give the correct picture. On occasions, it is said that ten states in India, nearly 180 districts in States, are affected. It means that one third of the country is affected. If one village in a district is affected, it is treated that one district is affected. It does not mean that all the villages in that district are affected. If one or two districts of a State are affected, it does not mean that all districts in the State are affected. Crimes committed by Naxalites cannot certainly be compared with the ordinary crimes and need extraordinary attention. Yet, they should not be presented in such a manner that they would create a fear psychosis in the society.

To control the terrorism in the hinterland, we have to see that infiltration of terrorists from other countries do not take place through sea routes and through the borders between India and friendly countries. The coast lines also have to be guarded through Navy, coast guard, coastal police. The States’ Special Branches and the CID should identify the persons forming part of the sleeper cells and lodging in cities and towns and studying in educational institutions and working in industries and professions.

It should also be seen that others from the country do not join them, who come from outside. It need also be seen that no retaliatory actions are taken by persons from the country. Unless that is done, the menace of terrorism cannot fully be controlled. While doing this, action to be taken against such persons should not be motivated by any other aspects. Unless we are just and correct and unless we act only with a view to curb terrorism of any kind, perpetrated by any person, belonging to any section of the society or any kind of ideology or culture, the purpose of controlling it effectively would not be served.

At the national level, we have tried to pay attention to policy making and developing systems to achieve the objective of controlling terrorism and helping the states to deal with the incidents and individuals as per their perceptions and assessments. We have issued directions and given suggestions as per the constitutional provisions and laws and rules, only to see that no aberrations in these matters are allowed to occur and no injustice is done to any section of the society. We have tried to understand the difficulties of those in the states and in the fields and to help them with funds, intelligence, equipments and such other things, which we would continue to do in future also, without allowing the situations to develop in an incorrect and unacceptable manner. Our approach of this nature should not be wrongly interpreted, as dictatorial or being soft on terror, for it is nothing but balanced and just, legal and constitutional, and helpful to the Union and the States, and the innocent individuals and the country as a whole. Our efforts have been to help one and all, at all levels, the international, national and the state level. This policy will continue in future also.

Terrorism need be tackled by using multi-pronged approach. Police forces can help. But, other methods to deal with it are also required. Less developed areas should be better developed. People should be helped to live better lives. No social, cultural, political and economic injustice should be done to any individuals or section of the society. In the neighbourhood, understanding and amity should be developed. That violence does not help should be understood and appreciated by one and all. That, to be happy, others should be made happy, should be understood. Wars and designs for committing crime and terrorism first occur in the minds of culprits. They should be tackled and controlled there too. When all these methods do not help, the collective might of the people, represented by the State, should be used to control the human aberrations, terrorist and criminal tendencies. These are things, which are also being done and would be done on a larger scale and in a better manner.

Well, I have made some points, which occurred to me. You may also give your suggestions. Finding solutions to the problems is more important than identifying deficiencies and just complaining against them. We are placed in positions, which can help us to find solution and solve problems.

I need say no more. I thank you for your attention. Jai Hind!"


Source: Press Information Bureau, Government of India






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