Thursday, July 23, 2009

Terror threat to India has not diminished: Chidambaram

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Delhi: Cautioning against any complacency on dealing with terrorism, home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said government will remain alert against the menace with the epicentre of terrorism lying on India's border.

"Let there be no illusion. The terror threat to the country has not diminished. During the last six months, a significant number of potential terrorists including Madani have been arrested.

"Our objectives are three-fold. Raise the level of preparedness meet any terror threat directed against India, respond swiftly and decisively to any terror threat or any terror attack and we have to remain on guard against terror and cannot lower our guard," he said replying to the discussion in the Lok Sabha on demands for grants of his ministry for 2009-10.

He said terror was a global phenomenon but that did not give any solace to India because "one of the epicentres of terror is the country on our border".

He rejected a member's contention that people of the country were living under fear and said he had great confidence in people of the country which had shown tremendous resilience and face such challenges in history.

In his 45-minute speech, he touched on various internal security issues and threats like Left-wing extremism, insurgency in the Northeast and situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Offering an olive branch to insurgents in Northeast, Chidambaram said the government was prepared to hold talks with any group that was prepared to abjure violence and surrender arms.

"As long as they indulge in murder, threat, extortion, there's no question of talking to them. How can an insurgent group offer ceasefire to a sovereign nation," he said ridiculing reports that government would accept ceasefire offer by DHD-J alias "Black Widow" militant group in Assam.

Chidambaram said home secretary G K Pillai would visit Assam on July 30 and the Centre has advised the state government to do everything between now and then to encourage the DHD(J) group to come to the negotiating table.

Dealing with the Naxal violence, the home minister said over the years it has been underestimated with the result that MCC and PWG had merged in 2004 as CPI(Maoists), strengthened themselves, acquired arms and expanded their area of operations.

They became so powerful that they took the decision to merge and declared that they would continue a class struggle through guerrilla war, he said.

Chidambaram took digs at the Left Front government in West Bengal for not taking suitable action against the Maoists on the belief that the two were involved in the same class struggle.

"The CPM did not take suitable action against the Maoists. You paid the price in Lalgarh," he said.
Chidambaram said after a police station was captured by Maoists in West Bengal with 100 policemen locked inside, the state government could not open it.

"The state government was not willing to commit its forces. I put my foot down and told the chief minister that your forces should have to fight from the front and the paramilitary forces will assist them. The chief minister understood that I meant business and then gave the state government forces," he said.

The home minister said the government has two-pronged approach to deal with the Left-wing extremism -- clear and hold the territory held by Naxals and then carry out development. "We will face the challenge squarely," he said.

On Jammu and Kashmir, he made it clear that Army would continue to be deployed in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir where there is a terrorist threat.

He said he had never made any statement that the Army would be withdrawn.

On paramilitary forces, the minister said the government would try to follow the Punjab-model by encouraging the Jammu and Kashmir Police to take the lead role in fight against the terrorists and the paramilitary forces would assist them.

However, he conceded that it would not happen overnight and would take a long time.
On the issue of withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, he said the government had taken note of the demand and will revisit the issue at an appropriate time. "We will review," he said.

Source: PTI

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