Thursday, December 03, 2009

India foils 12 terror attacks, says Chidambaram

2009-12-02 20:30:00
Last Updated: 2009-12-02 21:56:31

New Delhi: India foiled a dozen terror attacks in the last one year but it cannot afford to lower its guard as Pakistan has not changed its approach, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Wednesday.

'There has been no terror attack in the last one year and two days. In fact, we have foiled a dozen terror attacks,' he said while replying to a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the internal security situation.

'Against Pakistan, we have built capacity but we remain vulnerable as our adversary has not changed his approach,' the minister said. 'You will note that I have used the word adversary and not enemy.'

Chidambaram had referred to Pakistan during question hour too, saying the sub-continental peace process would not be resumed unless Islamabad took concrete action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage that claimed 166 lives, including those of 26 foreigners.
Chidambaram spoke on a variety of issues including jehadi terrorism, the dangers of Hindu fundamentalism and ways to counter Maoist guerrillas.

He also offered to respond within 72 hours if the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) made a statement in the next few days offering talks with the Indian government on ending its violent insurgency in Assam.

It was the second time the country's internal security scenario featured in the house Wednesday, Chidambaram having spoken during question hour on the Maoist movement.

The debate generally went along party lines. But Rama Jois of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stunned everyone by praising the manner the defunct Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) helped restore order during the 1975-77 Emergency rule.

'Something like this is needed now,' he said.

During his half-hour reply, Chidamabaram said: '26/11 rudely shook the nation. In the last year, we have taken a number of steps (to increase preparedness). These include revamp of the intelligence agencies, sharing intelligence in real time and building the capacity and confidence of the security forces.

'The security forces have the capacity to prevent another attack. If god forbid, there is an attack, our responsive will be swift and decisive,' he said

However, his reference to countering jehadi terrorism and the variety spawned by Hindu fundamentalism drew flak from the BJP.

'There have been attempts by Hindu militants too. The investigations into a blast in Goa will reveal the mindset of that brand of people,' Chidambaram said, as BJP members were immediately on their feet shouting in protest.

'I am not blaming any community. Terrorism is inspired by religious fanatics. Therefore, it is important that all of us not only swear by secularism but also strengthen (the) secular fabric,' he contended.

On the Maoist menace, Chidambaram admitted that 'all of us are to collectively blame for being in a state of denial'. But he was critical of a section of civil society for supporting the ultras.

Detailing the steps taken in the last one year, he said the centre and the Maoist-affected states had agreed to act in coordination to control the menace.

'We are not at war with the Naxals (Maoists) or the tribals. Our only intention is to restore the civil administration and follow that up with development. We will use the security forces only to the extent of reasserting authority,' the minister contended.

At the same time, he said the government was ready for talks with the Maoists if they abjured violence.

'I have not asked them to lay down their arms because I know they will not do so. I have only asked them to abjure violence,' Chidambaram pointed out.

Speaking about terrorism in the northeast, the minister said: 'The real threat was from ULFA. Their leadership is in disarray. In the next few days, ULFA will make a political statement. We are prepared for talks if they formally abjure violence.

'I will respond within 72 hours if they do so,' Chidambaram added.

Sixteen MPs participated in the 195-minute discussion but at any one time, there were fewer than 50 members in the house.

Chidambaram was the only minister present throughout the discussion, with A.K. Antony (Defence), Vayalar Ravi (Overseas Indian Affairs) and Mallikarjun Kharge (Labour) intermittently keeping him company.

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