Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday pitched for a comprehensive maritime domain awareness scheme, as there were indications that terrorist groups are maintaining their ability to use the sea route.
On the concluding day of a three-day long meeting of directors and inspectors general of police in New Delhi, Dr Singh also said that there were increasing infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir. "In Jammu and Kashmir, we are beginning to see increasing infiltration attempts, across the Line of Control and even the International Border. There are also indications about terrorist groups maintaining their ability to use the sea route," the PM said.
"Vigilance, therefore, needs to be exercised not only on our land borders but along the coastline as well. The comprehensive scheme of Maritime Domain Awareness to be led by the navy would help strengthen coastal vigilance, whereas deployment of more permanent border obstacles and better sensors could improve the situation along the land borders," he said at the conference organised by the Intelligence Bureau.
Though the PM did not name any terror outfit, Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Tayiba terror outfit had used the sea route to infiltrate into Mumbai in November 2008 and went on a shooting spree killing over 160 people. The PM also said that terror threat in the hinterland continues to be a cause for worry.
"Although 19 interdictions have taken place, terrorists were able to strike in Mumbai and Delhi last year and in Pune this year. Investigations in these cases are yet to conclude," Dr Singh said.
The PM said his government was working on a robust cyber security structure that addresses threat management and mitigation, assurance and certification, specially building capacity and enhancing research.
Calling upon private players to join in the plan of the government, Dr Singh said, "Our country's vulnerability to cyber crime is escalating as our economy and critical infrastructure become increasingly reliant on interdependent computer networks and the Internet. Large-scale computer attacks on our critical infrastructure and economy can have potentially devastating results."
He also called for devising a strategy to counter the propaganda carried out in social networking sites and said while working on a plan to counter it, a careful examination needs to be done that it does not infringe on the rights of freedom of expression of the people.
"The use of bulk SMSes and social media to aggravate the communal situation is a new challenge that the recent disturbances have thrown before us. We need to fully understand how these new media are used by miscreants. We also need to devise strategies to counter the propaganda that is carried out by these new means. Any measure to control the use of such media must be carefully weighed against the need for the freedom to express and communicate," he said.
He expressed hope that police forces would be able to work out effective strategies to deal with these tendencies and asked the top brass of the police to dedicate themselves to planned technological upgradation of their forces.
There are many emerging areas where the police forces need to develop new expertise which include controlling use of new media by miscreants to spread rumours and falsehood.
On terror threats in the hinterland, the PM said, "We are still in the process of developing capabilities to take pre-emptive action in respect of terrorist threats. Realignment of operational approaches, training of police personnel and more effective collaboration among states and between states and the Centre should form part of our overall strategy of dealing with the menace of terrorism," Dr Singh said.
Speaking on left wing extremism, he said there was an ability of Naxals to gradually increase their numbers, enhance their 'military potential', and entrench themselves in some areas of the seven affected states "is and should be a cause of worry."
Acquisition of indigenous capacity for fabrication of hardware and the ability to ideologically sway sections of society into raising a clamour about violation of human rights only adds to the complexity of the situation.
"The paramilitary forces have to play an important role in minimising the loss of lives due to the use of IEDs and preventing exploitation of inter-State boundaries by left wing extremists," Dr Singh said, adding the state police forces on their part must ensure that Naxals are apprehended are prosecuted quickly and effectively.
He also asked Naxal-affected state to improve the police-population ratio, strengthen police infrastructure and equip their police forces with better weapons, better communication systems and better training.
Dr Singh expressed concern over the recent communal clashes in various parts of the country especially in the northeast and said, "The ethnic disturbances of the northeast assumed a national dimension with the flight of people belonging to the northeast from various towns of South and Western India."
"This further strained the communal situation in the country, which was already showing some signs of deterioration, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala," he added and asked police forces to re-orient themselves and make attempts to marginalise "overtly intolerant and aggressive" elements of the society.
The PM expressed concerns over the growing violence against elderly and women in metropolitan cities. "There is a feeling that violence against women and elderly is growing in metropolitan cities...Maintaining a secure environment in our cities requires special skills built around our knowledge of technology, economics and sociology," he said.
Dr Singh said 3.9 lakh police and central armed police forces personnel have been recruited in the last 30 months and 6.35 lakh people have been trained.
There is a "need for filling up all existing vacancies in our police forces and their adequate training...But more efforts need to be made by the states to fill the vacancies," he said.
The PM said maintaining a secure environment in our cities requires special skills built around our knowledge of technology, economics and sociology.
"Therefore, policing the metropolitan areas, especially controlling the organised crime and protecting the vulnerable in these areas requires the focused attention of our police forces," he said.