Observing that left-wing extremism required a nuanced strategy as it could not be treated simply as a law and order problem, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the movement managed to retain the support of a section of the tribals and the poorest of the poor in many areas. Dr. Singh was speaking at the annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police here.

“It has influence among sizeable sections of civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth. It still retains a certain élan. All this adds to the complexity of the problem.”

Violence in northeast

Noting that the situation in the northeast was far from comfortable, he said the levels of violence in Assam and Manipur were cause for concern. “Extortion, intimidation have become a menace across most of the States in the region.”

Dr. Singh suggested that police chiefs from the region ensure firm but compassionate handling of law and order matters while insisting on higher levels of professionalism by the force.

‘New-age’ policeman

Unveiling his vision of a “new-age” policeman who was more professional, better-motivated, suitably empowered and well-trained, Dr. Singh said such a policeman would place greater emphasis on technology for investigation and other tasks. “Emphasis should be on capacity building from the police station level itself, so that the police are better equipped.”

The Central and State governments should take quick action to strengthen policing at the grass roots. The country needed a far higher number of policemen to improve the present low ratio of 145 policemen per lakh people. As a first move, urgent steps should be taken to fill the large number of vacancies at various levels, he said.

“Each police station should aim at being self-sufficient and needs to be given the required resources in terms of anti-riot gear, better weapons, the nucleus of a mobile forensic unit and be connected to a networked criminal database management system.”

The Prime Minister wanted every city to have a modern police control room with digitised maps and said this could be done only by modernising the force.

Emphasising the critical importance of training for policemen, he said that on average an officer was retrained only once in about 20 years. This was totally inadequate and must be rectified.

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