Thursday, December 03, 2009

‘India as vulnerable to terror as before’

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

First Published: 21:00 IST(2/12/2009)
Last Updated: 00:08 IST(3/12/2009)

Some terror groups operating in India may have linked up with al Qaeda, home minister P. Chidambaram told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The home minister said India remained vulnerable to terror strikes with jihadi groups coordinating their actions.

Replying to a discussion on internal security, he said, “We are as vulnerable (to terror) today as we were a few months ago. I say this with a sense of responsibility. The adversary has not changed its approach towards India.”

He said should there be any terror attacks, India’s response would be “swift and decisive.”

The minister said there had been no major terror attack in India after the 26/11 Mumbai strikes partly due to a revamp of the intelligence set-up, better sharing of intelligence and building confidence in security forces that they were capable of dealing with terror.

Luck, too, had a great part to play, Chidambaram said. The minister recalled asking a top US intelligence official as to why another 9/11 had not taken place. “The official said luck had been on their side. He was not being facetious. I have been reasonably lucky during the last 12 months,” he said.

More than a dozen terror attacks had been foiled during the last one year. He said religious fanaticism was the source of terror and there was no difference between terrorism inspired by jihadis or Hindu militants.

‘Minimum force against Naxals’
The minister stressed security forces would use minimum force against Naxals for reasserting authority in areas where the administration had lost control.

Allaying fears that the Centre would mount an all-out offensive against Naxals, he said, “We are not at war with Naxals or tribal people. We only want to restore civil administration and follow it up rapidly with developmental measures.”

He said India had collectively failed to assess the character of the Naxal movement, believing that it was confined to
small pockets. “We were all in a state of denial,” he said.

The minister said Naxals had expanded their area of activity and intensified their actions. He said it was time for everyone, including activists who plead the cause of Naxals, to decide whether they wanted to support democracy or the violent methods used by the Naxals.

‘Don’t create Frankensteins’
Taking part in the debate, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury accused a UPA ally of patronising Maoists. He was referring to the Trinamool Congress.

“Let us not create Frankensteins to remain in power. You already have a mandate to rule for another five years,” he said.

The BJP accused the government of rolling out the red carpet for US investigating agencies after 26/11 even though Washington had not provided access to Indian investigators in the David Headley case.

On Naxals, CPI’s D. Raja said, “We cannot treat our own people as aliens or use armed forces against them. Can you wage war against tribal people? The government should be realistic.”

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