`Joint Centre-State efforts needed to check naxalism'

Vinay Kumar

Accelerate socio-economic development: Patil

Easy availability of arms across the borders endangers internal securityConstant vigil needed to prevent spread of naxal influence

NEW DELHI: As the naxal menace continues to be an area of concern, the Centre on Wednesday asked the States to maintain constant vigil to ensure that the insurgents did not expand their base and spread influence to new areas.

A meeting of the Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police on internal security and law and order noted that new threats and challenges to internal security continued to emerge, prompting the need for new mechanisms to counter them.

The meeting reiterated the need for combined efforts between the Centre and States to fight terrorism, insurgency in the north-east, naxalism in 13 States, organised crime and crimes against the vulnerable sections of society.

Fine-tune action plans

The meeting of the country's top police officials and administrators came a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's scheduled session with the Chief Ministers of 13 naxal-affected States, where a new coordinated plan is likely to be unveiled to tackle naxalism.

In his inaugural address, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the Centre's policy was to simultaneously combat the naxal menace on the political, security and development fronts. He asked the States to fine-tune their action plans and intensify anti-naxal operations by improving intelligence gathering.

"States must give greater attention to accelerate implementation of land reforms and socio-economic development in naxal-affected areas. The Central Government remains committed to providing all possible help to the States and facilitating greater coordination among them to meet the challenge posed by naxalism," Mr. Patil told the meeting.

In the first quarter of the current year, the incidence of naxal violence decreased by 13.9 per cent. However, casualties have gone up by 29 per cent. "This is mainly due to the heightened level of naxal violence in Chhattisgarh," Mr. Patil said.

The Home Minister said factional violence, agitations, extortion, kidnapping, siphoning of development funds, money laundering, easy availability of arms from across the borders and shelter given to Indian insurgent groups in neighbouring countries remained areas of concern for internal security.

Improved security

Referring to the significant improvement of security in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Patil said terrorist-related incidents reduced by 22 per cent, civilian deaths by 21 per cent and those of security personnel by 33 per cent in 2005 compared to those in 2004.

Similarly, infiltration reduced by 54 per cent in 2005 over 2004. Security forces foiled 49 infiltration bids, killing 189 terrorists last year compared to 43 bids in 2004 where 95 terrorists were killed.

"In the first quarter of this year, only 30 infiltrators are reported to have crossed over to our territory. Local support for terrorist activities is receding," the Home Minister said.

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