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`Take firm stand against terrorism'

J. Venkatesan

"Centre should not extend olive branch to extremists"

Exchanging pleasantries: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with her Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje Scindia in New Delhi on Friday. The occasion was the Chief Ministers' conference.

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take a firm stand against terrorism, extremism and all forces that tried "to tear asunder our polity."

Addressing the Chief Ministers' conference here, she cautioned the Centre against extending an olive branch to extremists and giving the kid gloves treatment to naxalites. They would use such opportunities to get the time, space and money to renew their violent struggle. In this context, she referred to the success of Tamil Nadu in its war against extremists, especially forest bandit Veerappan.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it would be foolhardy to lower guard against the machinations of terrorists. Stressing the need for unified intelligence for better results, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the State police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Customs and Internal Revenue Departments, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Coast Guard, besides agencies handling external intelligence such as the Research and Analysis Wing, should be brought under an institutionalised set-up with an IT-driven database and information sharing protocol. At the State level, it should be under the Chief Minister, and at the national level, under the Union Home Minister or the Cabinet Committee on Security.

She requested the Centre to approve the Tamil Nadu Government's proposal to adequately equip and man the Coastal Security Group in the State at a cost of Rs. 25.71 crores.

The Chief Minister said the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorist Act (POTA) denuded the States of their powers to combat terrorism. "The vacuum in our defence against terrorism must, therefore, be filled by a special enactment."

She said the special assistance for naxal-affected districts should be extended to those in Tamil Nadu that had common borders with Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, particularly vulnerable, should be covered by the special development assistance provided to States for combating naxalism.

She also mooted a recruitment drive for the Army and the Central Paramilitary Forces from the naxal-hit districts. A mega cities police modernisation programme should launched to help the States provide the infrastructure and manpower necessary to cope with the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation in mega cities. The allocation for modernisation of police force during 2004-2005 was Rs. 860 crores and Rs. 900 crores in 2005-2006, she appealed to the Prime Minister to substantially increase the provision.

"Given adequate attention and full support, the police force in the States can ensure peace and tranquillity. What is needed is a clear mandate instead of sending mixed signals typical of a soft State. Eternal vigilance and firm action should always be our watchword," she said.

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