Voicing concern over the "new danger" posed by the spread of fundamentalist and extremist ideas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said the "virus" of communal violence should be checked in time.
"....We need to guard against the new danger posed by the spread of fundamentalist and extremist ideas. We have, of late, been witnessing the emergence of such pernicious tendencies and trends, and there are elements in our society who are actively pursing such programmes," Singh said.
The Prime Minister was addressing the annual conference of Directors and Inspectors General of Police in New Delhi on the concluding day of two-day meet.
Singh also suggested setting up of a task force to initiate a 100-day plan to address "emerging challenges" in the areas of terrorism, naxalism and insurgency.
Describing communal violence as a virus that threatens the secular fabric of the country, he said it needed to be checked in time, "otherwise our multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-caste society could well unravel."
Noting that the police have a critical role to play, he said "whatever the circumstances, the police must not remain passive spectators when deliberate efforts are made by communal elements and others to disturb the peace".
While asking the police to create an image as "a fair and impartial entity", he said a major challenge before them will be to restore the faith of the people - especially those belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and weaker sections - in their impartiality and effectiveness.
"Today, aspersions are being made regarding police impartiality and capabilities.... This is so even when policemen die in the line of duty," he said in an apparent reference to the recent Batla House encounter here.
With the "globalisation" of terror, the Prime Minister cautioned that the scale of terrorist incidents could only grow in the future.
The Prime Minister said in the realm of security, globalisation has produced a whole new range of interactive threats and risks. "Globalisation has also led to a blurring of the distinction between external and internal threats," he said.
While noting that "time is not on our side", Singh said the country cannot afford a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati and some other urban centres.
He said every time a terrorist attack took place there was a public outcry over the failure of the government, accompanied by criticism of police and intelligence agencies.
"I am aware that many terrorist attacks have been prevented, thanks to the vigil of the police and intelligence agencies, but a single incident of reasonable magnitude causes repercussions, and calls into question the capability and the capacity of the Government and its various agencies," he said.
Observing that the globalisation of terror has made terrorism an all encompassing danger, the Prime Minister said "we should anticipate that the scale of such terrorist incidents would only grow in the future and this would then become a major test of our capabilities. You must therefore be prepared for such an eventuality".
Referring to "some misgivings" that exist as to whether the police is adequately geared to deal with today's complex security problems, he said the contours of internal security have changed fundamentally over the years, and the basic character of threats has become greatly enlarged and also more complicated.
The Prime Minister said a question often posed was whether the police have adequately upgraded their skills, have an indepth understanding of todays security problems, are technologically qualified, and have honed their abilities.
"This is particularly true of the threat posed by Left wing extremism, perhaps, the most serious internal security threat that we face." Singh rued that measures taken so far have not produced desired results.
"It is evident that despite the efforts that have, and are being made, the measures taken so far have not yielded desired results... The inability of the intelligence agencies and the police to obtain pinpointed and actionable intelligence and in time - has enabled these outfits to carry out some high-profile attacks," he said.
Suggesting augmentation of the strength of personnel in police stations, he said there were far too many vacancies, and much larger numbers need to be recruited into the police, particularly into the civil police.
He also said the intelligence machinery at centre and state levels needs to be upgraded and made more sophisticated.
"Police training has not kept pace with requirements. A quantum increase in the Police Budget across the country is also called for," he said.
While emphasising on setting up of a task force, he said risks are often unforeseen in today's work and threats were often hidden. This has made the work of law and order professionals far more challenging than ever before.
"When it comes to high-tech crimes, terror situations, insurgent problems, or complex law and order matters, the perception remains that the police have a great deal of leeway to make up. This is something that has to be taken up urgently," he said.
Calling for a better anticipation of terror threats, the Prime Minister suggested a task force under National Security Advisor to work on a six-point strategy to ensure a proper networked security architecture.
Singh said in a period of 100-days, the task force should come out with a roadmap regarding the detailed steps to be taken up immediately.
He advocated developing an integrated capability to address emerging challenges in areas such as Left Wing Extremism, Terrorism and Insurgency and improving ability to anticipate and prevent surprises, through closely networked intelligence collaboration.
Creating an awareness regarding the critical importance of strategic foresight with regard to social and political developments and net-centric information command structure that enables both state and central agencies to access and exploit information in a secure manner and well in time were also suggested by him.
Singh also favoured strengthening inter-state and inter-agency cooperation and ensuring innovation and technological leadership.
"I also suggest the setting up of a Standing Committee of State DGPs to advise the Government on police and police-related legal matters. This institutional mechanism could comprise five state DGPs taken on a rotation basis," he said.
The function was attended by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Ministers of State Sriprakash Jaiswal and Shakeel Ahmed (Home), Prithviraj Chavan (PMO), National Security Advisor MK Narayanan, Principal Secretary PM Nair and Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta.