Prime Minister Manmohan Singh counted “religious fundamentalism” along with Leftwing extremism and cross-border terrorism as “serious challenges” and joined home minister P Chidambaram in giving investigators a pat on their backs for unravelling “new terror groups”.
Neither, however, named the groups or the source of religious fundamentalism — an oblique reference to Hindu groups — at the conference of chief ministers on internal security on Tuesday.
Last August, Chidambaram had cautioned against “saffron terrorism”, a remark that earned him the wrath of the BJP and led the Congress to distance itself from the description. On Tuesday, the government avoided the phrase but made sure the message was driven home.
Concern over rightwing terrorism has mounted over the last year with investigators linking Hindu groups to the blasts on the Samjhauta Express and in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer dargah.
Speaking of the new groups, suspected to be behind recent terrorist attacks, Chidambaram said: “We can’t shy away from naming these groups or exposing their designs. Whatever their religious affiliations, I have no hesitation in condemning every group that resorts to terror as a means of advancing dubious religious. Our policy in this regard is clear: every terrorist and terrorist group will be pursued and brought before the law and punished,” he added.
The PM noted the decrease in violent incidents in Naxal-hit states but said civilian deaths due to Maoist violence had increased. “Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand remain cause for concern. In Orissa and Maharashtra, too, the situation is serious,” he said.
Singh noted the vast improvement in the J&K situation due to steps taken by the Centre, including the appointment of interlocutors.
But, he expressed regret that several young lives had been lost in the state last year.