Special Correspondent

To improve rehabilitation and resettlement: Manmohan

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy was being reviewed to find out whether there was any pitfall in the existing framework. Recognising the need for a more humane approach, he assured Parliament that the Government would come up with an improved rehabilitation and resettlement policy. He was replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address.

On the Sachar report, Dr. Singh said it brought out the stark reality of the condition of Muslims.

The new 15-point programme was focussed on ensuring equitable sharing of the benefits of crucial development programmes, particularly in health and education. The Government was also formulating targeted programmes for districts where the minorities were concentrated.

"In the long-run, as all communities catch up on their social indicators, there would be no need for such programmes but given the current disparities it is imperative that we carry all sections along."

Dwelling on internal security, Dr. Singh asserted that his Government had an enviable track record, better than that of the previous regime, be it in the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir or naxal-affected districts. Even when there were terrorist incidents, the country never saw a breakdown of law and order and an upsurge of communal violence of the type that rocked Gujarat. "Compare the violence after the Godhra incident in Gujarat to the situation in Maharashtra after last year's Mumbai blasts." Describing naxalism as the "most widespread internal security threat" as seen in the recent killing of Sunil Mahato, a sitting Lok Sabha member from Jharkhand, Dr. Singh said the Government was following a two-pronged approach supporting States in improving the performance of the security and police forces and going into the deep-rooted causes that gave rise to disaffection.

In a clear message to terrorist groups, he said the Government could negotiate only with those who wanted peace, not with those who killed innocent people. "We will never hesitate to sit down and talk to a fellow Indian howsoever misguided if such conversations can bring peace to our people. But we will never compromise the unity and integrity of our country or allow those who kill innocent people to go unpunished."