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Internal security cause for concern: Manmohan

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Proud moment: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his son-in-law and Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau Ashok Kumar Patnaik after presenting him the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service at the concluding session of the DGPs/IGPs Conference in New Delhi on Thursday.
Proud moment: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his son-in-law and Joint Director of Intelligence Bureau Ashok Kumar Patnaik after presenting him the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service at the concluding session of the DGPs/IGPs Conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

Special Correspondent

Police asked to pay equal attention to common man’s concerns

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the internal security situation continued to “remain a cause of concern” and called on top police officials to pay equal attention to the concerns of ordinary citizens, in addition to combating the high-profile challenges of terrorism, naxalism and separatist violence.

Acknowledging that the security forces were maintaining law and order and fighting terrorism despite constraints and scarcity of resources, Dr. Singh underlined the need for an all-round improvement in training, skills, equipment, resources and attitude. India needed superior intelligence to remain warned of impending threats.

This required greater discipline, lesser politicisation and zero corruption among the police forces.

“We are committed to supporting your efforts in this direction. However, you need to provide the necessary leadership and direction to the forces under your command,” he told the country’s Directors and Inspectors-General of Police at their annual conference here.

Variety of threats

The Prime Minister dwelt on the various threats to national security — terrorism as was recently manifest in the Hyderabad blasts, the challenge to the state structure posed by naxalites, violence in the northeast and the incidents of vigilantism and citizens taking the law into their own hands, particularly in Bihar. “While some of it could be a result of personal frustration, some of it also arises out of dissatisfaction over the functioning of the law enforcement and justice systems.”

Speaking on issues of great concern to ordinary citizens but which tended to get neglected because of other pressures, Dr. Singh said:

“The worries of the common man centre around petty nuisance, harassment by local criminals or gangs, goondaism, dadagiri, threats of violence and even kidnapping and extortion. Women and senior citizens are increasingly concerned at their safety. Girls worry about the growing practice of eve-teasing. Parents worry about child abuse. As we get more urbanised, these offences are increasing. White-collar crime too is seeing a rise.

“It is only by addressing these concerns will police forces be able to reach out to citizens and win their confidence and affection. Our people should be willing to approach a policeman with the same assurance with which they visit a doctor. That should be our common endeavour.”

Need for reforms

Explaining the need for police reforms and listing the Centre’s initiatives, the Prime Minister concluded with renewing his call to the police to “seek out the citizen, identify his or her needs and expectations, address them on priority. Try to improve their satisfaction levels. The instruments and methods you decide to choose should be driven by this goal.”

Joyous occasion

For a family that is shy of the limelight, this one was unavoidable.

Dr. Singh could not hide his joy as his son-in-law and senior police officer Ashok Kumar Patnaik marched up to receive the President’s Police medal from him.

As the name of the 49-year-old IPS officer was called at the conference, the Prime Minister was all smiles.

After presenting the citation and medal, Dr. Singh patted his son-in-law on the back and the duo exchanged a few words, providing that rare moment to be frozen in time.

Mr. Patnaik is married to Dr. Singh’s second daughter.

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