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Centre's attempt to browbeat states is unacceptable

April 16, 2012 13:23 IST

I am afraid there is an emerging pattern wherein the powers vested with the States are sought to be abrogated without the attendant responsibility...

Every time, I visit the capital, I come with great hope of receiving assistance for Tamil Nadu which till now has eluded us.  Hope, however, springs eternal....

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa tells the Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security in New Delhi

Public order and police are subjects that top the list of items under the State List of the Constitution. The founding fathers of our Nation clearly delineated the functions of the Central and State Governments, and accordingly made Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies the law making Institutions for the smooth performance of these functions.  

It is in this context that the subject of internal security must be understood, and appreciated.

This conference on internal security seeks to address a host of issues such as the crime and criminal tracking network system, modernisation of the police force, border management, coastal security, preventing the circulation of fake Indian currency notes, strengthening of the intelligence wings and separation of criminal investigation and law and order.

Tamil Nadu, under my leadership, has taken the lead in the implementation of all police schemes. At the same time, I wish to emphasise that conferences of this nature should address major problems confronting the Nation and strive to find solutions for them. They should not be confined to an audit of the funds released to the States. The results achieved in maintenance of internal security should count much more than the mere statistics that the agenda notes seem to be focusing upon.

I now proceed to dwell upon major issues concerning internal security. The maintenance of public order is the primary test of internal security. Where people are provided an atmosphere of public tranquility, such a state is indeed a haven of peace. I am proud to inform this august gathering that Tamil Nadu has seen no instances of disruption of peace and public order in the last 11 months of my tenure.

Communal riots and clashes that threaten many a state in the country are absent in Tamil Nadu. In view of the government reaching out to the poor and needy with benevolence and care, the left wing extremist elements have not been able to gain a foothold in the state.

With sustained police vigil and no labour unrest the state provides the right climate for investors and level playing fields for men and women to participate equally in employment and development. The government has been constantly alert to any situation threatening to affect law and order and through proper anticipation, planning and intelligence has devised appropriate counter strategies to defuse any potentially explosive situation with an eye on ensuring the greater good of the common people.

Smuggling of essential commodities has been curbed with an iron hand and any interference in the process of law taking its own course is not tolerated.

Each state evolves its police working methodology in consonance with the dictates of its people and its needs. Given the changing socio-economic scenario in the state and the changing profile of crime, the development of specific sets of skills, orientation and equipment is the need of the hour. For example, the rise in cybercrime, and fake currency notes would not come under the purview of traditional policing.

Capacity building and amelioration of skills makes infusion of funds imperative. Sadly, the funds from the government of India are continuously being curtailed. 

The leverage and operational magnitude of the state is sought to be kept under control by tightening finances. We are getting accustomed to this formula being repeated in almost every aspect of revenue accrual from the Centre. The constant attempts to reduce states to the level of glorified municipal corporations heavily dependent on the Centre for funds is a travesty of the federal nature of our existence. This attitude is disturbing and the implication of such exercises is not conducive to either state or national growth. 

There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each state has its own distinct cultural, communal, social and economic aspects. 

A strong, efficient, well equipped and disciplined police force is the only answer to meeting the challenges posed by anti-social elements threatening to disrupt law and order.

Considering the multifarious functions of state governments and their limited potential to raise resources, the government of India should come forward to provide liberally for strengthening and modernising the police force. With all the avenues for raising financial resources being taken away one by one by the central government, the state governments are finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet.

Against this background, it is condemnable that the funds provided for modernising the police force are reduced year after year. For example, the Central share in the modernisation of the Tamil Nadu Police which was Rs.75.75 crore in 2007-08 has come down to a mere Rs.42.27 crores in 2011-12. 

In contrast, my government sanctioned Rs 357 crore for police modernization in the last financial year itself.  There is a Tamil proverb that says "The farmers who wield the plough are the ones who supply the men for the fighting forces".  Similarly, without the support of strong state governments (financially and administratively) there can never be a victory in the fight against terrorism.

I notice that in the agenda notes there is a reference to three incidents of terrorism in recent months. Our police force has been raised, encouraged and motivated by stalwarts like Sardar Patel, India's 1st Home Minister. There is no doubt that we will be able to vanquish terrorism, if we join hands and work together in a spirit of participation and co-operation and support each other's efforts instead of trying to lay down a pyramidal structure that arrogates to itself the right to dictate to the state police force from the Intelligence Bureau and other allied establishments. The members of the police force, whether they function in the state or in the IB or CBI, are recruited by the same agency, namely, the Union Public Service Commission and receive identical training in the National Police Academy.

Trying to intimidate and browbeat the states through top down structures particularly when 'Police' is a state subject is not acceptable. In other words, there are continuous veiled attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference which is detrimental to the national interest. 

Endeavoring to encroach on state powers either by creating parallel authorities monitored from the Centre or vicarious operations of State police powers through creation of Centre monitored caucuses within the states, as was envisaged in the Railway Protection Force, National Counter Terrorism Centre etc., to say the least, are contraventions of the Constitutional provisions which accord the Police priority status in the State list. 

The Coastal Security Group was first formed by me in Tamil Nadu in 1994 with the objective of preventing smuggling and to detect and block intrusion of anti-social elements into Tamil Nadu by the sea route. Tamil Nadu, under my leadership, was the first State in the country to set up physical infrastructure in terms of Marine Police Stations, Out posts and Check posts, under Phase-I of the Coastal Security Scheme. Under Phase-II, 30 Marine Police Stations, 20 boats, 12 jetties, 30 Four Wheelers and 60 Two Wheelers have been recently sanctioned. Sites for 30 Marine Police Stations have been identified and construction is due to start soon.  I have also sanctioned 12 All Terrain Motor Cycles and 12 All Terrain Jeeps from State funds.

I am afraid there is an emerging pattern wherein the powers vested with the States are sought to be abrogated without the attendant responsibility, either by the passage of bills or issuance of notifications.  Lack of consultation with the States and failure to take the States into confidence is a cogent commentary on the system of Governance in the Centre.

In this connection, I would like to say that the on-going joint naval exercise off the coast of Tamil Nadu in the Bay of Bengal, with US Nuclear Powered warships participating, has been decided unilaterally by the Government of India without taking the local State Government into confidence. This fact has already been brought to the notice of the concerned authorities in the Government of India by my officers.  As you will agree, such joint military exercises create panic reactions among the uninformed local public and consequently the local State Government is taken by surprise, caught fully unaware.

This is not all. Adding insult to injury, the Central Government did not permit the Consul-General of the US Consulate, Chennai, and senior Indian Navy Officials based in Chennai to meet me as the constitutional Head of the Government.  This implies that the Central Government has scant respect for constitutionally elected State Governments. In future, I hope the Central Government will follow the principle of prior consultation with the State Governments, whenever such important decisions are taken by the Central Government. No doubt, it is a pre-arranged exercise according to the prescribed tenets under covenant between two Countries.  Even so, is it too much to expect to be kept informed?

With regard to the CCTNS, there was a recent communication from the Hon'ble Minister of State about the need to adhere to the time schedule prescribed for completing the project.  I wish to say that my State will complete the project well ahead of schedule. We have finalized the System Integrator and commenced the project from 4th November, 2011. The feasibility survey for network connectivity has been completed and the web enabled version is being developed along with the Citizens Portal. The State Government, after finding that the Government of India was not receptive to the CCTNS being extended to the special units of the Police Force such as the Economic Offences Wing, Anti Idol theft Wing, etc., has decided to provide Rs.9.96 crores from its own funds for this purpose.

Separation of crime investigation from the Law and Order Police Wing as provided for in the Supreme Court Judgement on Police Reforms is indeed the right way forward. This is necessary to ensure speedier investigation, better focus and well trained professionalism in crime detection.  The State will examine the connected issues and take immediate steps in this direction.  However, here I wish to add a word of caution that such large scale changes can only be implemented gradually, since the common people should become familiar with the changing structures.

There can be no two opinions about the need for strengthening the intelligence wings of the Police.  At present, the strength for the State Intelligence Wing is being drawn from the regular Police strength and separate training is being given to them. They continue to serve in the Wing as long as they are willing, depending upon their performance and availability of vacancies at the time of promotions. They get their promotions along with their batchmates in the other Wings and local Police based on their seniority. Service issues such as, separate recruitment, training, promotion, lack of co-ordination between them and local Police, etc. would make things difficult and complicated if a separate dedicated cadre is created.  

Further, the officers and men, who are being drawn from various Branches in the Police Force are better placed to contribute to intelligence gathering and analysis due to the experience they gain from other branches. However, there is an imperative need to provide certain incentives to the personnel of the Intelligence Wing for attracting and retaining the cream amongst the Police Force. At present in Tamil Nadu, the personnel in the Intelligence Wing up to Additional Superintendent of Police have been sanctioned 10 per cent of their basic pay as incentive, as "Special Pay" and the system is functioning smoothly.  I request the Government of India to reimburse the special incentive paid to the Intelligence Wing. 

The Police Force in Tamil Nadu is fully geared up to face any eventuality and solve problems with alacrity and confidence. The smooth resolution of complex problems that surfaced in 2011-12 bears testimony to this. Various protests, either at Koodankulam or at the site of the Mullai Periyar Dam have been tactfully and successfully handled, protecting all segments of Society. The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant was successfully re-opened without any bloodshed or disturbance to law and order. The disturbances provoked by some unruly elements along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border were successfully quelled. Land grabbing and exploitation of the common people by the land mafia which was a scourge prevailing particularly in major cities such as Chennai, Madurai and Trichy has now become a thing of the past. 

We have received 34,703 complaints of land grabbing in various districts and lands worth Rs.758.04 crores have been retrieved so far. We have also sanctioned 25 Special Courts to try land grabbing cases.

The last eleven months have thus seen a total transformation in the functioning of the Police Department and the resultant effects on Society are there for all to see. Today, Tamil Nadu beckons people from far and wide and assures its residents an atmosphere characterised by stability, peace and order.

Every time, I visit the capital, I come with great hope of receiving assistance for Tamil Nadu which till now has eluded us.  Hope, however, springs eternal. I wish this Conference all success and look forward to some meaningful decisions being taken today.

Thank you.