Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that Naxal violence has no place in democracy and the Centre and state governments must work together to deal with the “very grave threat” posed by Maoists.
Condemning the recent Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh, he asked states to come up with some concrete measures to deal with the threat.
Addressing Chief Ministers at the annual Internal Security Conference, he said time has come to view the challenges of terrorism, communal violence and Left Wing Extremism in a holistic manner, rising above narrow, political and ideological divides.
“I think each one of us needs to be completely objective in our approach to these issues, acting in national interest rising above narrow political and ideological divides.
“I would appeal to all political parties and all sections of society to work together to find effective ways and means of meeting these grave challenges,” Dr. Singh said.
Assuring states that the challenges posed by Naxalism have received serious attention from the Centre for quite some time now, the Prime Minister said, “We have adopted a two-pronged strategy to deal with the challenge: conducting proactive and sustained operations against Maoist extremists; and, addressing development and governance issues in Left Wing Extremism affected areas.”
He emphasised that the two-pronged strategy needed to be strengthened and pursued with rigour.
“Even as we intensify our efforts to strengthen the security and intelligence apparatus in areas affected by Maoist violence, we should be able to ensure that people residing in Left Wing Extremist affected areas are able to live in an environment of peace and security and derive full benefits of our development efforts,” he said.
All-party meet on Naxalism
Dr. Singh said an All-Party meeting will be held on June 10 to build a broader national consensus on the strategy to tackle the Naxalite challenge which comes in the aftermath of the brutal attack by Maoists on Congress leaders and workers and their security personnel in Chhattisgarh.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Centre and States should join hands to ensure that such events do not recur.
“I have noted from the agenda papers that there is a separate session on Left Wing Extremism in this conference and I would urge you to make good use of this opportunity to come up with some concrete measures to deal with the very grave threat of Naxalism,” he said.
Dr. Singh said the Chhattisgarh Naxal attack was a “setback” to the success story achieved by the Government in tackling the maoists.
“In the last couple of years there has been a substantial reduction in the number of incidents and deaths caused by Left Wing Extremist groups and an increase in the number of Naxalite surrenders.
“But, major violent attacks by Naxalites like the recent one in Chhattisgarh are setbacks that have occurred periodically,” Singh, who was flanked by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, said.
He said the Centre had already started taking steps like further strengthening defensive and offensive capabilities against Left Wing Extremists. “I hope the state governments will cooperate fully with us and add to the effectiveness of these efforts.”
On Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said, “Our strategy to prevent cross—border infiltration by militants and our intelligence based counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a decline in the level of terrorist violence by about one-third in 2012 as compared to 2011.
“In fact, terrorist violence parameters in 2012 have been the lowest since the upsurge in terrorist activities two decades ago. The record inflow of tourists and pilgrims during 2012 also points to an improved security situation in the state,” he said, adding the implementation of several infrastructure projects in the state was progressing well.
The Prime Minister, while talking about the Northeast, said the security situation in the region continues to be complex, with insurgency, extortion and agitations being the main disruptive elements in the hands of the insurgents.
However, there has been considerable progress in dialogue with several insurgent and ethnic separatist groups in the North-East, he said and added that the Centre was committed to undertake and bring to a satisfactory conclusion dialogue with all groups which are willing to give up violence to seek solution within the framework of Constitution.
On the issue of improving border management and coastal security, he said greater focus and priority than before was being given to the work of fencing and construction of additional Border Outposts along the India—Bangladesh border, construction and up—gradation of roads along the India—China, India—Nepal and India—Bhutan borders as well as development of integrated check posts on India—Pakistan and India—Nepal borders.
“The need for coordinated efforts by Central and State agencies to deal with terrorism and other security challenges, irrespective of whether they are internal or external in origin, has been emphasised in all earlier conferences...I would urge you once more to explore how we can achieve even better coordination between the Centre and States,” the Prime Minister said.
He said Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been set up as an autonomous body in August 2012 to administer the Gorkhaland region and ensure its all—round development.
“The Centre is committed to providing financial assistance of Rs 200 crore per annum for three years for projects aimed at developing the socio—economic infrastructure in the GTA areas,” he said.
Crime against women
Dr. Singh said the issue of increase in crimes against women and children requires collective action for which the government has enacted several laws providing stringent punishment and more sensitive treatment of victims during investigation and trial.
“We also need to put in place institutional mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of women and children, particularly in the urban context.
“Such mechanisms include sensitisation of police personnel, particularly at levels with which the victim comes into contact, setting up dedicated helplines, measures for safety at the work place, and so on. I would urge all of you to explore how these outcomes can be best achieved,” he said.
The Prime Minister referred to the recently enacted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 for safety and security of women and children.
Dr. Singh also drew the attention of the chief ministers to the increase in number and intensity of incidents of communal violence in 2012 than the previous year saying this requires special attention.
“I am sure that all of us agree that maintenance of communal harmony in our country is critical for our continued growth and prosperity. It is absolutely imperative that we deal very firmly with communal forces of all types.
Simultaneously, we also need to recognise and address the special needs of minorities and weaker sections of our society, particularly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,” he said
ISI trying to revive Sikh militancy
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said there have been significant developments on the Sikh militancy front and its commanders based in Pakistan are under pressure from the ISI to further the Pakistani intelligence agency’s terror plans not only in Punjab but also in other parts of India.
“Sikh youth are being trained in ISI facilities in Pakistan. Interdictions and interrogations have revealed use of jailed cadres, unemployed youth, criminals and smugglers by Pak-based Sikh terror groups for facilitating terror attacks,” he said addressing the conference of Chief Ministers on internal security.
Mr. Shinde said Sikh youth based and settled in Europe and the U.S. were also being motivated towards militancy and a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives, including RDX have managed to find its way into Punjab through the borders.
He said a significant quantity of RDX has since been recovered in police action in Rajasthan and Punjab in the last one year.
Serious challenges on internal security
The Home Minister said India continues to face serious challenges to its internal security scenario from Jihadi terrorists and terror groups were taking advantage of communication channels which have become more sophisticated over a period of time.
“From mobile phones, terrorists today have moved on to use of satellite phones, Thuraya sets, use of spoofed IDs and coded transactions over e-mail and chat sessions, besides Voice over Internet Protocol to communicate across the border,” he said.
The Home Minister said India’s long and porous border with Bangladesh and Nepal have been used by Pak-based jihadi groups to ex-filtrate terrorists out of India for training in Pakistan and induction of terrorist elements, hardware and finance into India.
“Jihadi tanzeems in Pakistan with affiliation to LeT, JeM and IM have set up channels for transfer of funds from Pakistan to India via Gulf and Nepal, besides using Western Union Money Transfer and hawala channel. Moreover, ex-SIMI cadres and similar militant elements based in Gulf have also been observed collecting money for causing destruction in India,” he said.
Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Shinde said the declining trend in violence continues in the state with 35.29 per cent decline in incidents in 2012 compared to 2011. There has also been a decrease in civilian and security force casualties by 51.61 per cent and 54.54 per cent respectively. The terrorist strength in the Valley has also declined.
On infiltration of militants
“However, the cross border terrorist infrastructure is intact. The training camps continue -- as do the infiltration attempts. Nepal route continues to be exploited for infiltration of militants,” he said.
He said there were reports that terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have come down to 21 from 42 but that needed to be verified.
Mr. Shinde said to combat terrorism, there exists a very close and effective coordination amongst intelligence agencies at the Centre and State level and intelligence inputs about possible designs and threats are shared with the state governments concerned on a regular basis.
“The Multi Agency Centre (MAC) has been strengthened and reorganised to enable it to function on 24x7 basis for real time collation and sharing of intelligence. This has resulted in busting of many terrorist modules and a number of possible terrorist attacks have been averted,” he said.