Expressing serious concern over violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called for revisiting standard operating procedures and "non-lethal, yet effective and more focussed" crowd control measures to deal with public agitations.
"Despite the curtailment of militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the public order dimension in the State has become a cause of serious concern,’’ he said here, while addressing the annual Conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police, organised by the Intelligence Bureau.
His observation assumes significance as police and security forces in Kashmir Valley have come under attack over the killing of nearly 60 civilians since June this year, in their attempts to control protestors who often indulged in stone pelting.
The Prime Minister asked Home Minister P. Chidamabarm to establish a high-powered task force to come out with a set of recommendations over the next two to three months on non-lethal crowd control measures.
"We cannot have an approach of one size fits all. For instance, I understand that instead of a single standard sequence for the use of force, other countries have put in place procedures that vary according to the specific needs in different situations,’’ Dr. Singh told top police and security officers. He also stressed the need to examine the successful experience of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) in non-lethal crowd control measures.
Noting that after a relative lull in 2009, the challenges to the country’s internal security seem to have re-emerged in more virulent forms, he said the problems on the internal security front remain daunting.
Emphasising the need to do much more to meet the challenge of Naxalism, the Prime Minister cited his Independence Day address to stress that the "Naxalites are our own people and we are ready to talk to them provided they abjure the path of violence.’’ He reiterated the government’s commitment to making special efforts to develop areas affected by Naxal violence, many of which are inhabited predominantly by tribals.
Pointing out that policing in India has become increasingly complex over the years, Dr. Singh said that social tensions, religious disputes, growing economic disparities and regional, linguistic and ethnic differences have long been major challenges to effective policing.
"But of late, the growing presence of non-state actors, fundamentalist groups and left wing extremists has further complicated matters. The growing inter-linkages of the destabilizing and criminal forces across states and across our borders, call for far greater vigilance and coordination between the security agencies than ever before,’’ he told State police chiefs and other top security and intelligence officials.
Referring to his proposal for the setting up of a Standing Committee of DGPs to provide policy inputs, the Prime Minister wanted such a Standing Committee to begin work in right earnest.
He also favoured re-calibration of the promotion system in the police forces to reward those who perform better, especially in troubled areas. He said a successful stint in an extremism-affected district should result in greater career benefits to the officers.
"Within the police forces, the current system of promotion is based essentially on seniority. It needs to be suitably recalibrated to catalyse better performance and motivation,’’ Dr. Singh said. Procurement of equipment was another sphere where speed and quality remain areas of concern, he pointed out.