CMs one on internal security
New Delhi, February 7
“There was not a single discordant note in the conference” of CMs and Administrators of all 35 states and Union Territories, Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters, summing up the proceedings at the day-long meet.
The most striking feature of the conference was that all states and UTs, irrespective of the fact that these were ruled by various political parties, “were on the same page,” Chidambaram said.
“This in itself is an achievement of sorts. It means that the whole nation and especially those who are in charge of governing the nation are responding in the manner they are expected to, that is in the spirit of unity, for safeguarding India’s internal security,” he said.
States had agreed to recruit an additional 1.5 lakh police personnel within a year and achieve “zero vacancy”. In the past about 10 months, the states had recruited 1.1 lakh police personnel, considerably reducing the vacancy list, he said.
Asked about the rationale behind India proposing Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan at a time when the “dark forces” represented by the 16-party United Jehad Council headed by Syed Salahuddin had issued a threat from Muzaffarabad on the Kashmir issue, Chidambaram said the dialogue was not with separatist groups. India would defeat the dark forces “whenever and wherever they challenge us”.
The minister also denied that there were differences of opinion between his ministry and that of external affairs. “We assess the threat to internal security and that is the government assessment in which the Home Ministry plays a part, maybe an important part. The government also makes an assessment of the overall political, external situation and decides to make certain moves. There is no difference of opinion between the ministries of home affairs and external affairs. Both ministers are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security.”
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister expressed concern over the increase in infiltration attempts and identified left-wing extremism, cross-border terrorism and insurgency, besides attempts to whip up communal passion as challenges for internal security.
At the same time, he said the government’s response to left-wing extremism must be “calibrated” to avoid alienating the people, especially those in tribal areas. “It must also go hand in hand with social and economic development of areas affected” by such problem, bringing them into the mainstream of national progress.
The Prime Minister also cited the menace of counterfeit currency notes printed and smuggled into India from outside as a serious problem that had grave implications for the economy.
PC: Sikh militancy resurfacing
New Delhi, February 7
“There are some signs of militant groups belonging to the Sikh community trying to raise their head in Punjab and Rajasthan,” Chidambaram told reporters while addressing the media at the end of a day-long conference of Chief Ministers on internal security here.
He said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot raised the problem of Sikh militants entering his state at the conference.
“The Rajasthan Chief Minister did mention it. But in my assessment that is not a very acute problem… The Director-Generals of Police of Punjab as well as Rajasthan assured me that they could handle the problem.” The Haryana police chief also held similar views.
“I don’t think it is a serious problem. But we will keep a watch,” the Home Minister told reporters while replying to queries on the statement by Gehlot.
On government’s stand on Naxalites, Chidambaram told reporters that after Naxals had “spurned” the offer for dialogue, it was decided to “confront” them. The next meeting on Naxalites would be held in Kolkata. “We are clear in our view that the governments must reestablish the control of the civil administration and, therefore, forces will be deployed. If that means some kind of battle on the ground, so be it,” he said.
Chidambaram ruled out piloting the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill as it did not conform to the present thinking of Parliament, which had repealed POTA.
Three provisions under GUJCOC were against the wishes of Parliament, he said. These pertained to the confessions made to police officials, the stand of public prosecutors and the bail to the accused.
Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil on Sunday made no reference to any security needs of Chandigarh of which he is also the Administrator.
At the CMs’ conference on internal security, Patil spoke on every issue except about his own Union Territory. He made no reference in terms of Chandigarh's internal security needs in his marathon speech that lasted nearly 25 minutes, the longest speech by anyone at the conference.