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PM warns of terror attacks
Donít polarise minorities, Sonia tells CMs
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Nainital, September 23
Obviously concerned at their party's dipping popularity among the minorities, both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took up cudgels for the minority community and asked the security agencies and state authorities to desist from branding all Muslims as terrorists as this would lead to their alienation.

Addressing the seventh conclave of Congress chief ministers here today, which is focussing on the twin issues of agriculture and internal security, Dr Singh went a step further and even took a swipe at the West (read the US) which, he said, makes the erroneous linkage of treating the actions of a few as typical of the entire community, thus tarnishing the community's image.

The Prime Minister's reference to the West was clearly aimed at fending off criticism over the UPA governmentís growing proximity to the United States of America which is perceived as being anti-Islam.

Stating that a sense of insecurity seems to pervade the minority community, Dr Singh came down heavily on the law enforcing agencies which, according to him, tend to accuse members of minority communities of being terrorist sympathisers and line up the entire population of a locality for questioning. He urged the state authorities to take appropriate measures to dispel the misgivings of the minority community. In this connection, he made a strong case for augmenting the number of police personnel from the minority communities.

On her part, Ms Sonia Gandhi maintained that tough anti-terrorist actions should not lead to polarisation and should instead ensure that no community feels under siege.

Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi's observations were also a clear reference to the complaints received in the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts and the Malegaon violence when representatives of the Muslim community had charged that they were being prosecuted by the police.

Expressing concern at the growing activities of externally-sponsored terrorist outfits in the country, Dr Singh warned of these being further intensified and involving greater use of "fidayeen" elements. The Prime Minister said the involvement of external terrorist groups had grown over the years. There is unlikely to be any let-up in their activities in the coming days with more religious and economic places being targeted by them.

"The concern is that there could be a further intensification involving greater use of fidayeen elements and targeting of a wider range of religious, economic and sensitive objects," he told the chief ministers while asking them to step up vigil against any such attacks.

In addition, Dr Singh said, they had also received disconcerting reports suggesting the existence of a number of "terrorist modules" and "sleeper cells" in certain urban areas, which provide the necessary back-up support to foreign terrorist outfits.

The Prime Minister and Ms Gandhi also focussed on the growth and spread of Naxal violence. Describing it as a socio-economic phenomenon and a multi-state challenge, the Congress president felt that the Centre should play a more proactive role in dealing with this problem. Dr Singh said the Centre had set up a joint task force and other coordinating mechanisms to curb this menace. 

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