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Naxal violence a growing worry: Chidambaram

September 15, 2011 14:48 IST
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Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who inaugurated the DGPs/IGPs Conference in New Delhi on Thursday, accepted the responsibility for violent Naxal incidents and said it was the government's duty to set out the context in which such terrorist attacks take place.

Here is the text of home minister's speech:

"This is the third occasion when I have the opportunity to address the annual conference of DGPs/IGPs. I thank Shri Nehchal Sandhu, DIB and Chairman of the Conference, for inviting me to inaugurate the Conference.

We meet this year under the shadow of two terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai on July 13, 2011 and Delhi on September 7, 2011. Innocent lives were lost; many were injured and, in Delhi, many are still in hospitals.

We share the shock and grief of the affected families and offer them our deepest condolences and sympathies. We also owe a duty to remember the members of the security forces who have laid down their lives in the last 12 months.

Between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011, 29 personnel were killed in the North East; 41 in Jammu & Kashmir; and 163 in Left Wing Extremism affected States. We pay homage to these brave men and promise their families that we will stand by them through their period of difficulty.

Under normal circumstances, I would have devoted the better part of my speech to take stock of what has been achieved and what remains to be done. However, I think the circumstances are unusual and difficult.

Questions have been raised about the capacity, competence and commitment of our security forces and, especially, of the intelligence community. Doubts have been expressed about the investigations that are underway and, especially, of the cases that remain 'unsolved'.

There is concern about the long time taken for completion of trials and conviction of the accused. Comparisons have been made between India and other countries, particularly the United States.

While I shall deal with these issues presently, I think the leaders of the police forces – and especially the intelligence community – need to communicate more openly and more often to the people.

I think it is necessary to tell the people what the police force in each State has been able to achieve in terms of capacity building, recruitment, procurement, training, induction of technology, intelligence gathering, solving cases and overall improvement in the level of violence and in maintenance of law and order.

At the same time, the police forces must also convey that years of neglect had left the security forces under-prepared to confront the multi-dimensional challenges that are before the country.

For many years, communal violence was the biggest blot on the record of governments. The eight years since 2003 witnessed, on an average, about 750 incidents a year, but the number of casualties was low and on the decline.

In the first six months of 2011, there has been a sharp decline in the number of incidents (271) and in the number of casualties. However, as long as there are forces that will attempt to communalise issues, there will be the danger of outbreak of communal violence. Hence, there is no room for complacency and I urge you to remain vigilant.

Another recurring challenge is how to deal with civil disturbances. The right to dissent and the right to protest are basic rights in an open society. However, we find that more often than not such protests turn violent.

We saw indiscriminate stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir in the summer of 2010. We have seen bandhs and rasta rokos in several states that caused widespread damage to property. There is also the new phenomenon of 'blockade' of national highways that cuts the lifelines to many parts of the country.

Even as I speak, NH 2 and NH 37 in Manipur are subjected to blockades. The question that arises is how much force may be used by the security forces to deal with such civil disturbances?

Following the turbulent summer of 2010 in Jammu & Kashmir, we advised the security forces to re-write the standard operating procedures and use only non-lethal methods to control civil disturbances, including stone pelting.

I compliment the J&K police and the Central Armed Police Forces for adopting a completely new strategy and successfully dealing with the incidents of stone pelting. This summer has, by and large, been peaceful in Jammu & Kashmir.

Three sets of numbers tell the story most vividly: the Amarnath Yatra attracted 635,000 yatris and concluded peacefully; over 630,000 tourists have visited the State so far; and the Vaishnodevi Shrine has been visited so far by 73,22,470 pilgrims.

I urge all State police forces to revise their standard operating procedures to deal with civil disturbances. The use of non-lethal methods to control unarmed civilian protestors must become the new standard operating procedure.

The remarkable improvement in the North Eastern States has not attracted the attention that it deserves. Last year, I referred to the appointment of two interlocutors to talk to various groups in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

I am happy to report further progress. We have ceasefire agreements with both NSCN(IM) and NSCN(K). We have Suspension of Operation agreements with NDFB, UPDS, DHD, ANVC, KNO, UPF and, more recently, with ULFA.

The commencement of formal talks with NSCN(IM) and ULFA has been enthusiastically welcomed by the people. Some splinter groups and some smaller groups are still holding out and refusing to accept the offer of talks. In Manipur, a united front of seven Meiti underground groups has been formed.

Therefore, a large presence of security forces in the North Eastern States is a necessity to deal with both the threat of violence and the cases of extortion. While we are happy with the decline in the level of violence, we can be satisfied only if the ongoing talks with different groups lead to the disbanding of armed cadres and honourable political agreements.

Left Wing Extremism is the most violent movement in the country. The CPI (Maoist) is the most violent organisation in the country. I have always maintained that dealing with Left Wing Extremism is a shared responsibility of the Centre and the states.

Although the number of incidents and the number of casualties seem to indicate a decrease in the level of violence, this is largely attributable to the changed situation in West Bengal.

I regret to point out that there is no significant decline in violence in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa. Even in West Bengal, there are reports that the State unit has been instructed by the CPI (Maoist) to develop guerrilla bases in Jangalmahal and to intensify the conflict.

The CPI (Maoist) has added at least four companies to the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army and its goal remains seizure of power through an armed liberation struggle.

The Central Government has shouldered its share of responsibility in dealing with the Left Wing Extremism. We have deployed 71 battalions of CAPFs as against 37 in 2009.

The Budget allocation under SRE Scheme has been increased to Rs 337 crore in 2011-12 as against only Rs 80 crore in 2008-09. Likewise, the Budget allocation under SIS Scheme has been increased to Rs 140 crore in 2011-12 as against only Rs 30 crore in 2009-10.

We have offered to fund 400 fortified police stations at a cost of Rs 2 crore per police station. We have sanctioned the raising of 13 Special IR Battalions that will have security and engineering components to support and implement development works.

More helicopters are being inducted and other technological support is also being provided. The Integrated Action Plan has placed Rs 3,300 crore with the District Administration of 60 districts and 67,175 works are under implementation.

18 more districts will be added in 2012-13 and I am told that the Ministry of Rural Development will implement the scheme next year with the changes suggested by the Conference of District Collectors held two days ago. In addition, more funds will be provided under the flagship schemes.

I wish to appeal to the Directors General of Police that they must take ownership of counter insurgency measures and devise short and medium term strategies against Left Wing Extremism. The cooperation between the Centre and the states has yielded good results but there is still a long distance to travel and more years of hard work.

I shall now speak on the threat of terror. Two terrorist attacks in the space of two months are indeed blots on our record. Naturally, the Central government and the security forces have been severely criticised.

While we accept the responsibility for the incidents and the legitimate criticism, it is our duty to set out the context in which such terrorist attacks take place. No country in the world appears to be entirely immune to the threat of terror, the United States included.

In 2011, up to August, there have been 279 major terrorist incidents in 22 countries. The worst affected are Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicentre of terror is Afghanistan-Pakistan. Four out of five major terrorist groups are based in Pakistan and three of them -- LeT, JeM and HM -- continue to target India.

There is no let up in attempts to infiltrate from across the line of control in Jammu & Kashmir. Besides, there are attempts to infiltrate terrorists via Nepal and Bangladesh into India as well as find a safe transit route from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu.

There are Indian modules too. They seem to have the capacity to attract radicalised youth to their fold. Some modules are loosely knit under an organisation called Indian Mujahideen.

Many old cadres of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India have morphed into IM cadres. There are other Indian modules that espouse the cause of right wing religious fundamentalism or separatism. Many of these modules have acquired the capacity to make bombs.

The challenge of terrorism is a formidable challenge and requires a comprehensive strategy of counter terrorism. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States identified the Al Qaeda as its pre-eminent security threat and declared war on Al Qa'ida and its affiliates and adherents.

Over a period of 10 years, the US created the Department of Homeland Security; brought together 22 agencies and bodies under that department; fought two wars; and sent its agents and troops into other countries. 6,000 soldiers died; 137,000 civilians lost their lives and 7.8 millions became refugees.

The cost was $4 trillion. And in a document put out in June 2011 the US admitted that the job is not yet done. During the last 10 years, there were three terrorist attacks on US soil (with 16 dead and 34 injured) and three nearly successful terrorist attempts that providentially failed.

We do not have just one pre-eminent threat; we have several. We must build the capacity to deal with these multiple threats. Capacity building is work in progress. It requires time, money, human resources, technology and harnessing the capacity of every agency and organisation in the country.

Have we done enough to build capacity since the Mumbai terror attacks? The answer is yes and no. 36 Battalions comprising over 36,000 personnel have been raised after November 2008 and 21 more Battalions are being raised.

Since 1971, States have raised 132 IR Battalions and the Central Government has reimbursed Rs.1,002 crore for this purpose. 13 training institutions are being upgraded and 17 new institutions are being set up. 16 out of 21 new CIAT schools are functional. The CAPFs recruited 91,761 constables in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

On their part, State police forces have reported that they have recruited 1,07,238 constables in 2009 and 90,359 in 2010. In 2011-12, CAPFs will recruit 92,168 constables and 29,370 officers and other ranks. I am confident that State police forces will recruit another nearly 1,00,000 personnel in 2011.

In addition, huge quantities of rifles, carbines, pistols, BP jackets, night vision devices and vehicles have been procured for CAPFs and State police forces.

Yet, we have not done enough. There are still over 5,00,000 vacancies in State police forces. After the cadre review, the authorised strength of the IPS was increased to 4,720. On 1.1.2011 there were 3,393 officers in position and it will take seven years to reach the optimum level.

Not all States have enacted the new Police Act nor set up the State Police Establishment Board. Not all States have adopted the Transparent Recruitment Process. Money is a big constraint. While the expenditure on internal security by the Ministry of Home Affairs has increased from Rs 25,302 crore in 2008-09 to a budgeted amount of Rs 40,834 crore in 2011-12, all the States and UTs put together have provided to their police forces only Rs.61,024 crore in 2011-12.

Thus, we will spend Rs 101,858 crore this year on policing the whole country. This figure must be compared with Rs 164,415 crore that has been budgeted for the Defence services. It is obvious that the Centre and States must provide more money to their police forces.

There are other works in progress too. For example, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). From time to time there have been slippages but we have taken corrective steps and I am hopeful that the nationwide network will be in place by March, 2013. Some States have not yet selected the system integrator; some have not yet set up State Data Centre.

These are matters that require the personal attention of the DGP of the State. The other ambitious project is NATGRID. Government approved the project on June 6, 2011 and I believe that it is proceeding according to schedule and the phases that have been approved will be completed in 18 months.

The most important unfinished agenda is the National Counter Terrorism Centre. It was an idea that I had unveiled in my Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture delivered in December, 2009. The underlying premise is that there is a subtle difference between anti-terrorism and counter terrorism.

To borrow a phrase from the National Strategy for Counter Terrorism published by the US Government in June, 2011, the goal must be "to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat" the terrorist groups. Today, we do not have an organisation devoting its whole time and energy to that task.

I hope to secure a government decision on setting up the NCTC. Once there is a decision, I am confident that the core team of NCTC can be installed within 60 days and the full structure can be put together within 12-18 months.

Meanwhile, the Intelligence Bureau and the intelligence wings of State police forces must continue to do their silent and solid work. Because they are silent and largely invisible, little appreciation will come their way.

Given the size of our population and the territory, the size of our intelligence agencies is modest. They are engaged in intelligence gathering not only in respect of terrorists. They are required to gather intelligence about infiltrators, insurgents, Left Wing Extremists and peddlers of fake Indian currency.

Yet, the intelligence agencies have achieved significant successes in the battle against terrorism. Since 26/11, security forces and intelligence agencies have neutralised 51 terror modules. To illustrate, Abdul Latif and Riyaz who were planning to attack ONGC installations were arrested in Mumbai in March, 2010.

 Zia ul Haque was arrested in Hyderabad in May, 2010 and a major terrorist action against a multinational company was disrupted. A 10 member SIMI module was busted in Madhya Pradesh in June, 2011 and their plan to assassinate three Judges was foiled.

I have also compiled a list of 48 terrorist cases since 2000. Of these, 37 cases have been chargesheeted and these include some cases taken over by the NIA where it has become necessary to further investigate the case.

Out of the 37 cases, convictions have been obtained in 8 cases from Courts in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chandigarh. That leaves 11 yet-unsolved cases. This is not a record to be scoffed at, although I agree that we ought to do better and I am sure that the State police forces will do better to investigate, chargesheet and obtain convictions of the terrorists.

I have dwelt at some length on the counter terrorist work of the agencies both at the Centre and in the States because this is an opportunity for me to speak to the people of the country and ask them to reflect on the work done by you in the face of formidable challenges.

Of course, there are weaknesses in the system; there are delays in the processes; there is slackness on the part of individuals; but no one should doubt your commitment and your determination to fight terrorism and insurgency. As leaders of state police forces and Central Police Organisations, it is your duty to assure, by your words and deeds, that you will secure the life, liberty and property of the people of India.

On behalf of the Government of India I promise you our fullest cooperation. As I said at the beginning, the security of India is a shared responsibility of the Centre and the States. In return, I ask the State governments to look upon the Central government as a friend and collaborator. Let us work together to make India a country that is safe and secure for all those who live on this land.

I have great pleasure in inaugurating the Conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police and wish your deliberations success."

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