Saturday, February 06, 2010

PM ADDRESSES CHIEF MINSTERS’ CONFERENCE ON INTERNAL SECURITY

11:30 IST

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security in New Delhi today. In his address, the Prime Minister called for effective coordination between the Centre and the States to face the challenges of Internal Security. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:

“We have gathered here today to discuss issues relating to our internal security, an area that require utmost vigil, sustained and coordinated attention of both the Central and the State governments. We must periodically together review the systems that are in place for ensuring the safety and security of our country and our citizens, assess the threats that we face and take appropriate remedial action to deal with those threats. It is in this spirit that this Conference is being held. I compliment the Home Minister and his team for organizing it and for the good work that they have done in the last one year. I welcome and greet each one of you and I sincerely hope that the deliberations of this Conference will contribute substantively to the strengthening of our internal security.

All of you are aware of the major threats to our security. Hostile groups and elements operate from across the border to perpetrate terrorist acts in our country. The State of Jammu & Kashmir bears the brunt of the acts of these groups. There is insurgency and violence in the North-East. Many States are affected by Left–Wing extremism, which I have in the past referred to as the greatest threat to our internal security. There are also those trying to divide our society on communal and regional lines. Each one of these threats requires a strong effort, determination, hard work and continuous vigilance to tackle. These threats to our society, to our polity and our country constitute a challenge that we must and we shall meet effectively at all costs.

When we met last time in August 2009, I had mentioned the steps we had taken to improve our internal security environment between January and August. These included the setting up of four regional hubs of the National Security Guard at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad and the setting up of the National Investigation Agency. Since then we have made further progress. The Multi Agency Centre (MAC) in the Intelligence Bureau now shares intelligence with other agencies, including those of the State Governments and Union Territories on a continuous and real time basis. Reciprocally, the other agencies are also obliged to share intelligence with the Multi Agency Centre. The Centre operates on a 24 hour basis and I expect that this arrangement for sharing and exchange of information and intelligence will greatly help us not only in apprehending those responsible for acts that vitiate our security environment but also in preventing such acts. I also understand that the Ministry of Home Affairs has initiated action to set up dedicated and secure online connectivity for exchange of real time intelligence and security related information between the Centre and the States. I would urge all Hon’ble Chief Ministers to benefit from these facilities and arrangements.

We have also made progress in some other areas. To enable quick movement of anti-terrorist forces, the Director General of the National Security Guard and certain other designated officers are now empowered to requisition aircraft. The Central Industrial Security Force Act has been amended so that the Force can provide security to establishments and undertakings in the joint and private sectors. The National Investigation Agency has started its work with cases for investigation and prosecution having been assigned to it. It is my expectation that the States would make the fullest possible use of this agency so that our fight against terrorism can be a forceful and united effort.

The terrorist strikes in Mumbai in November 2008 had made us painfully aware of the need to strengthen our coastal security. The National Committee on Coastal security under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary has been constituted to adopt an integrated approach to this very vital issue. The Committee has taken action to increase the level of patrolling and surveillance along the Indian coastline and bring about greater coordination between the various agencies that can contribute to security along our coasts. The issue of multi-purpose identity cards with biometric features to residents in coastal areas is expected to be completed by September 2010. The process of registration of boats and vessels has gathered momentum. Standard operating procedures have been finalized and communicated to the State Government. These and other steps being taken should help substantially in making our coastline safer and secure.

While we have made progress on different fronts, we are also aware that we have a lot more to achieve. I would like to take this opportunity to assure all of you present here that there will be no let up in our commitment and in our efforts. However, our success also depends in large measure on the response of the State Governments. While speaking to Chief Secretaries of States a few days back I had said that many issues in today’s world require a response that is coordinated not only between the affected States but also between the Centre and the States. Internal security is certainly one such issue, and for that matter a critical issue which affects the pace of our growth and development.

Apart from coordinating efforts, there are certain specific steps which the States could take. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Chief Ministers to create Special Intervention Units in their States to enhance the speed and decisiveness of the Quick Response Teams. The States may also like to develop specialized commando forces which could be deployed to act as a deterrent to terrorist acts. I would urge Chief Ministers to make full use of the scheme formulated by the Central Government to assist the Special Branches of States in strengthening their intelligence capabilities.

A very basic pre-requisite of any internal security system is an adequate number of policemen who are well trained. The problems of inadequate number of policemen and deficiency in training of the police personnel have been underlined time and again. Unfortunately there has not been adequate progress in these areas. The figures collected by the Ministry of Home Affairs show that at the end of September 2009, about three lakh ninety four thousand of the sanctioned posts in the State and Union Territory police forces were lying vacant. This constitutes a large proportion – about 20 percent - of the total sanctioned strength. I would urge State Chief Ministers to take expeditious action to fill these vacant posts. There is also a need to ensure good infrastructure for our police forces to be effective and efficient. At present for all States as a whole, around 80 percent of the police budget is used for salaries, allowances and pensions. The States should increase the proportion of the budget earmarked for police infrastructure and police training. I hope to see greater efforts from States and enhanced allocations in State budgets for recruitment and training of police personnel and for improving the infrastructural facilities available to our police forces. We should also think of special incentives for policemen, and indeed other government officials, posted in difficult areas.

During the course of this Conference, the internal security issues that we face will be discussed in detail. I will only touch upon a few of them. As far as Jammu & Kashmir is concerned, there has been a marked decline in the number of terrorist incidents from 2008 to 2009. But, infiltration levels have shown an increase. Recently there have been some incidents which are disturbing. In the North-East also, the number of incidents has gone down in 2009 as compared to 2008. The number of incidents related to Left-Wing extremism has however increased in the same period, as has the number of civilians and security personnel killed in these incidents. This is worrisome. The Left–Wing extremists continue to target vital installations and kill innocent civilians in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. The Centre and the States have to find ways and means of jointly fighting this menace. As I have said earlier, our response to Left–Wing extremism must be calibrated to avoid alienating our people, especially those in the tribal areas. It must also go hand in hand with social and economic development of areas affected by Left–Wing extremism, bringing them into the mainstream of national progress. Tribal communities in particular, should get full benefit of our development schemes and development programmes. This is only possible by improving service delivery in tribal dominated areas.

I would also like to make a mention of the menace of counterfeit currency notes. There are indications that Fake Indian Currency Notes are being printed and smuggled into India from outside our country. There is obviously a need for a coordinated approach by the Central and State agencies to tackle this menace; which has serious implications for our economy. In some instances of recovery of fake currency, especially by banks, there has been a reluctance to register the First Information Report. This has to be avoided and all such cases must be thoroughly investigated. The States could also designate a nodal agency to investigate cases of seizure or recovery of Fake Currency Notes and set up a state level committee for continuous vigilance in the matter, as has been suggested by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

We have a hard task ahead but one that can be and must be achieved with determination and coordinated action. As we deliberate upon the serious issues that constitute the agenda of this Conference, it will be in the spirit of strengthening each others’ hands. We will only succeed if we are united as a nation in addressing the concerns related to our internal security. In conclusion, I wish you all the very best in your endeavours and hope that this conference will lead to a better understanding of internal security issues and will also result in more effective responses to the threats we face as a nation.”

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