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Terrorism will be contained, says PC Chidambaram

July 13, 2012 19:01 IST

The country has been free from major terrorist violence in the last four years and the government is confident it will be able to contain terrorism, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.

"We are not free from terrorist threat, we have to be vigilant.... I am confident though that we will be able to contain terrorism," he told reporters, adding that if anyone tries to foment any trouble, strong action will be taken.

The minister also said that the Centre was keeping a very close watch on groups and individuals who were trying to revive terrorism in Punjab, which had witnessed the dark days of militancy in 1980s and early 1990s.

He said the "there is threat of terrorism" in Punjab, though it is not the same as before.

Chidambaram, who earlier in the day presided over a meeting of Northern Zonal Council here, said prior to 2008, "we had an average of five incidents a year, now we have had three major incidents in the past three-and-a-half years."

"But that does not mean we are free from the threat," he said.

He said that in the north-east this has been the most peaceful year.

Last year was also peaceful. All groups in the north-east are holding talks with the government of India, he said.

"In J&K, this calendar year, seven civilians and six security personnel were killed, the figure being in single digit. This number used to be in hundreds even 4-5 years back.

"We have had nine lakh tourists so far visiting J&K while 3.75 lakh pilgrims have already visited the Amarnath cave shrine this season," said Chidambaram, who was flanked by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

With no major incidents of terror occurring in J&K, Chidambaram said that "all of us should rejoice and pray that the peace that appears to have returned to J&K is a durable peace."

On the Maoist problem, he said there had been marked improvement in some states including West Bengal while attempts were on to deal with the problem as a whole in other states including Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Chidambaram said the Centre had a two-pronged strategy of development and political action to deal with naxalite problem.

Asked about attempts being made to revive terrorism in Punjab and the Congress targeting the ruling Akalis on the issue, the minister said, "I don't want to get into any political arguments. This is not the place. There are other fora.

"As far as terrorism is concerned in Punjab, we keep a very careful watch and I keep a very careful watch over the situation. There has been no militant terror incident in Punjab in the recent past, but that does not mean there are no groups or individuals trying to revive militancy".

Chidambaram said that nine persons were arrested for terrorist-related activities in 2011 while 47 were arrested in 2010.

"The persons arrested disclosed certain information on the basis of which we conclude that certain threat of terrorism remains (in Punjab), it is not the same which it was in 80s and 90s...there is threat of terrorism," he said.

He also made a mention of the seizure of 5.6 kg of RDX on October 12, 2011, at railway station, near Ambala cantonment and subsequent arrest of two BKI terrorists in this regard in December that year.

"This is a clear pointer that terrorism has not been completely wiped out. But central government is extremely vigilant.

"We regularly share information with the state government and we regularly ask them to share information with us from time to time," the minister said.

On the controversy over setting up of Operation Bluestar Memorial inside the Darbar Sahib Complex at Amritsar, Chidambaram told reporters that there are two versions to setting up of this memorial.

While some fear that it may propagate the extremist ideology others maintain that it was just a Gurudwara that was coming up, he said.

He said that at present moment, SGPC was handling things and he is not in a position to comment what exactly is going to come up there.

"All I know that SGPC and some others have just laid a foundation stone. What is going to come up there and what shape it is going to take, I am not in a position to say," Chidambaram said responding to the question on the memorial.

Ambika Soni cautioned that nothing should be done that may "divide the people of Punjab".

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