Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maoist violence, coastal security to top chief ministers’ meet

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened an internal security meeting of chief ministers here Monday, with a concerted strategy to defeat Maoist rebels, the state of coastal security, border management and modernisation of police forces top on the agenda.
The meeting, a follow-up to a similar assembly held in January, is expected to review the steps taken by states for improving both technical and human intelligence, procurement of arms and ammunition, and filling up of vacancies in forces.

The home ministry has already drawn up an elaborate counter-offensive operation in Maoist strongholds across central India where 26,000 personnel drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force, and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police will be involved.

The upcoming offensive against the Maoists in seven affected states is timed for a launch in October and the objective is to secure the Maoist belts and then govern.

Manmohan Singh has described Left extremism as the country’s biggest internal security challenge and also made a mention in his Independence Day address that the government would “redouble its efforts” to contain the rebels.

The rebels hold sway in nearly 170 districts of the country in varying degrees. Already, the country has witnessed 1,128 incidents of Maoist-related violence till June 30 that has left 455 civilians and security forces dead.

The government is also said to be keen on state governments strictly following guidelines on the security of places of worship, historical monuments, iconic buildings, rail and transport links and hotels.

Guidelines have already been circulated to the state governments and Home Minister P. Chidambaram is likely to stress on deadlines for implementing these and preparing model laws.

Home ministry officials said discussions will also focus on the scheme of community policing and statutory provisions in State Police Acts to facilitate it.

“Any discussion about the internal security in India has to essentially deal with policing. In this context, the idea of effective community policing will be talked about,” said a senior official.

The meeting will also focus on operational preparedness of Quick Response Teams, strengthening of state Special Branches and intelligence wings and steps to tackle the fake currency menace.

Issues of coastal security including operationalisation of new interceptor boats will also be discussed.

A separate session has been earmarked for discussion on issues related to Leftwing extremism where chief ministers from the seven affected states will interact with Chidambaram. The states are Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal.

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