J and K situation still a challenge: Sushilkumar Shinde
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Thursday said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is still a challenge for the Indian government. Speaking at the inaugural session of the three-day Conference of Directors General of Police (DGPs) being held here from Thursday, Shinde said
"These attacks indicate a nefarious game plan hatched across the border to demoralise our Security Forces and demonstrate to the people of J and K that the capabilities of militants remain undiminished."
Shinde said there have also been violent actions and ceasefire violations along the border, particularly in Poonch district of Jammu region.
"Our Security Forces have responded in right measure and succeeded in neutralising several militant commanders and eliminating 35 terrorists on the LoC this year," he said.
"Security Forces, however, cannot afford to lower their guard, particularly in view of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections next year," said Shinde.
He said a "fine balance" needs to be maintained by them between firm handling of terrorism and adequate restraint in public order situations.
"This is important to limit civilian casualties and to deny space to separatist elements for fomenting further disburbances," he said.
Shinde said the people of J and K remain undeterred by such threats from across the border and the huge voter turnout in the recent Panchayat elections bears adequate testimony to this.
"Peace in the last few years has paid huge dividends in terms of increased economic activities and record arrival of domestic and international tourists.
"The Government of India is committed to the development of J and K by focusing on infrastructure projects such as laying of a new rail line across the Pir Panjal range," said Shinde.
"Various employment generation schemes such as Udaan and Himayat are also being vigorously pursued," he said.
Following is the text of Shinde's speech:
"My distinguished colleague in the Ministry, Shri Mullapally Ramachandran, Shri Anil Goswami, Home Secretary, Director, Intelligence Bureau and Chairman of the Conference, Chiefs of Central Police Organisations, other delegates, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to inaugurate this Conference of DGPs and IGPs and address this gathering of top police leadership. I would like to congratulate those officers of Intelligence Bureau who have been awarded the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious Service. I pay homage to the brave policemen and women who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. I offer my sincere condolences to the members of the bereaved families and assure them that their welfare will always remain the topmost priority for the Government.
India is facing multifarious challenges on the internal security front in the form of militancy in J and K, insurgency in some parts of the North East, the threat of Left Wing Extremism and terrorism in hinterland of the country. Indian Mujahiddeen, which draws its motivation and sustenance from inimical forces operating from across the Western border has been responsible for 3 out of 4 major terrorist attacks in our hinterland this year. These include Hyderabad twin blasts and the series of blasts at Bodhgaya and Patna. Another blast that took place in Bangalore was the handiwork of some misguided fundamentalist youth and remnants of Al-Ummah. However, I am happy to inform you that all these cases have been successfully worked out. I compliment officers of Intelligence agencies and Police Forces for having made critical breakthroughs in this regard. Here, I would like to make a special mention of the apprehension of Yasin Bhatkal who was wanted in a large number of cases of bomb blasts in different parts of the country. Our security agencies have also arrested Abdul Karim also known as Tunda, a wanted terrorist in different bomb blast cases. These arrests constitute a major breakthrough in our fight against the terrorism and demonstrate the resolve of the Goverenment of India to bring to justice all those who commit crimes of terrorism in our country. It is important that the leads emanating from the investigations are vigorously pursued to apprehend all those associated with this network. Our security forces have to remain constantly alert and act in a cohesive manner to deal with these challenges.
In our fight against terrorism, the Multi Agency Centre has emerged as an effective platform for proper coordination between Central and State agencies. The scope of MAC is now being extended to more than 450 districts across the country. I believe there is a dire need for upward flow of intelligence into MAC for dissemination to stakeholders, which can be achieved by upgrading the capability of Special Branches of State Police. This is only possible if States upgrade their Special Branches for which Government of India is prepared to extend all possible help.
Left Wing extremism remains another major threat to our national security. Despite reduction in violence levels, naxals have continued to target Security Forces and those reposing faith in our democratic polity. The attack on political leaders in Chhattisgarh and the killing of an SP in Dumka district of Jharkhand are instances of Naxal brutality. Central and State Security Forces, however, have achieved notable successes in restricting their areas of influence, denying them fresh recruits and eroding their top leadership. There has also been a drop in the casualty figure of Security Forces from 111 last year to 97 this year. On the other hand, the number of Naxals killed has gone up to 97 from 71 last year for the same period. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Security Forces for their outstanding role in ensuring peaceful polling in the recently held Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh. The high voter turnout has sent the right message to the Naxalites that common people of the area have reposed faith in our democratic polity.
The Union Government remains committed to root out this menace. It will continue to help the affected States by placing at their disposal CAPFs and support various security as well as development related interventions in Naxal areas. However, the driving force to deal with this problem must come from local initiatives led by the States. The institution of Police Stations must be strengthened to play a focal role in this fight. It is also imperative to recruit personnel for special forces from local marginalised sections of the society. They would need to be trained and equipped for jungle warfare and put under command of the inspiring police leadership.
The situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be a challenge for us. This year, there has been an increase in targeted attacks on Security Forces resulting in nearly 50 personnel losing their lives. These attacks indicate a nefarious game plan hatched across the border to demoralise our Security Forces and demonstrate to the people of J and K that the capabilities of militants remain undiminished. There have also been violent actions and ceasefire violations along the border, particularly in Poonch district of Jammu region. Our Security Forces have responded in right measure and succeeded in neutralising several militant commanders and eliminating 35 terrorists on the LoC this year. Security Forces, however, cannot afford to lower their guard, particularly in view of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections next year. A fine balance needs to be maintained by them between firm handling of terrorism and adequate restraint in public order situations. This is important to limit civilian casualties and to deny space to separatist elements for fomenting further disburbances.
The people of J and K remain undeterred by such threats from across the border and the huge voter turnout in the recent Panchayat elections bears adequate testimony to this. Peace in the last few years has paid huge dividends in terms of increased economic activities and record arrival of domestic and international tourists. The Government of India is committed to the development of J and K by focusing on infrastructure projects such as laying of a new rail line across the Pir Panjal range. Various employment generation schemes such as Udaan and Himayat are also being vigorously pursued.
In the North East, there has been an improvement in the general security scenario. Mizoram and Sikkim have remained peaceful while Tripura has shown significant improvement. Pursuant to the policy of the Government, a number of insurgent outfits in Assam like ULFA/pro-talk and NDFB of Ranjan Daimary have come forward for peace talks. Some others, such as the anti-talk faction of ULFA have spurned the overtures of the Government and their leaders have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, particularly Myanmar. An effective border management is, therefore, needed to prevent trans-border movements of such outfits. The lower Assam and Karbi Anglong areas of the State remain vulnerable to ethnic and communal tensions because of demands of separate states by various groups. Special efforts are required to check the growing mistrust, particularly between Bodos and non - Bodos in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District and its adjoining areas.
In Meghalaya, the Garo insurgency remains a concern. In Manipur, the increased targeting of non Manipuris is an alarming trend. In Nagaland and in 3 districts of Arunachal Pradesh, namely, Tirap, Changlang and Longding, inter factional clashes and extortion activities of NSCN/IM and NSCN/K continue to cause considerable hardship to the people.
Agreements for ceasefire and suspension of operations have been struck with several insurgent groups in the North East. However, many of these agreements are being flouted by militants who are indulging in extortions affecting the lives of common people. Recently, there have been public protests in certain areas against such extortion activities. The State Police Forces need to enforce these agreements so that relief could be provided to the people.
Now, I would like to draw your attention to attempts being made to vitiate communal harmony, especially in the States of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. While all these States have witnessed a rising trend in the number of communal incidents this year, the most disturbing communal clashes took place in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining areas in Western UP. More than 50 people lost their lives and nearly 50,000 people were displaced as a result of violence. In most of these States, the triggering factors for communal incidents were trivial in nature and could have been nipped in the bud by effective, prompt and unbiased administrative action. It is essential for all District Administrations to put in place an early warning system for immediate detection of communal issues. For this, local administrations should maintain constant engagement with all communities, particularly in disturbance prone areas. I am happy to learn that this Conference would devote considerable time to evolve a strategy in this regard.
India is an emerging economic power and therefore, security of our industrial infrastructure and coastal areas remains high on our agenda. Government of India has initiated multiple schemes to strengthen coastal security and also the capabilities of the CISF for protecting our industrial assets. However, States have to do much more to strengthen coastal security by upgrading coastal police infrastructure. Disaster Management is another area where Police has an important role as early responders. I am told that this is another area which is going to be examined by this Conference for improving Police response to tackle natural calamities.
As we move along the path of modernisation, newer challenges emerge. Government has succeeded in increasing the density and spread of internet connectivity right down to village level. This has made us prone to sophisticated cyber crimes and cyber attacks. Extensive networking of computer systems, particularly in sensitive areas has increased our vulnerability to such attempts from hostile elements. Security Agencies and Police forces would need to develop expertise for a coordinated response to counteract these problems.
A related issue is that of misuse of social media. While Government favours freedom of expression, mischievous use of this medium to foment trouble needs to be checked. Last year, social media was exploited by vested interests to generate fear amongst the people of the North East in Bangalore, which resulted in their exodus in large numbers. More recently, the Muzaffarnagar riots were fanned by similar misuse. Once again, I am glad that this Conference has taken up these issues as part of its agenda, to discuss in detail and find a way forward.
On the subject of misuse of cyber space, I would also like to draw your attention to the attempts being made to revive militancy in certain States by unleashing distorted narrative about emotive events and issues on the internet to mislead and misguide the youth. One such sinister attempt was nipped in the bud by an alert Punjab Police. It had come to notice recently that in Punjab some self-radicalised groups had made attempts to vitiate the atmosphere by targeting some important leaders. We need to closely monitor such situations arising out of the pernicious propaganda circulating on certain websites.
Finally, I would like to remind you that it is your duty to ensure the safety and security of all our people, particularly the weakest amongst them, including senior citizens, women, minorities and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, both in the cities as well as in rural areas. As leaders of Police Forces in India it is your responsibility to formulate a roadmap for creating a sensitive, well trained and effective police infrastructure which is capable of dealing with the diverse security related issues that our country faces. Police stations remain central to all security related activities. It is extremely important to strengthen this vital institution. While States are responsible for maintaining law and order, I can assure you that Government of India is always prepared to help them in building a better and efficient police machinery.
I would conclude by saying that I and my Ministry would eagerly look forward to the deliberations and recommendations drawn at this Conference on subject affecting the security of our Nation. I wish this Conference all the very best and hope that you would look into the issues flagged by me in order to improve the security scenario in our country."
(Posted on 21-11-2013)