PM Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the Delhi HC bombing this week that killed 13 people served to remind everyone that the country could not afford to let down its guard and urgently raise intelligence gathering capacity.
"The terrorist attack in Delhi last Wednesday is a stark reminder to us that there can be no let-up in our vigilance," Singh told the National Integration Council (NIC) that has chief ministers, political leaders and eminent persons as members.
Singh counted terrorism and left-wing extremism as the two major challenges facing the country.
Singh said the country had to "continuously upgrade and strengthen our investigating agencies and our intelligence gathering apparatus" to keep pace with newer methods adopted by terrorists.
Echoing home minister P Chidambaram, the PM said the government had taken steps to bolster intelligence-gathering, sharing of information between state and central agencies and engaging with various groups.
But Singh admitted that "major challenges still remain".
The PM also emphasised that it was imperative that investigating agencies remained free of bias in probing terror strikes, a reference to security agencies rounding up minority youth as the first suspects.
"We need to ensure that our investigating agencies are free from biases and prejudices of any kind," he added.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, a member in NIC, argued that combating terrorism could be successful only if communalism and religious extremism was firmly checked.
Home Secretary RK Singh said NIC members were unanimous in their view that the big challenge before the country was to create jobs for 300 million young people set to join the workforce.
However, CMs of several states including UP, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan and Kerala didn’t attend the meet. Singh said the NIC will meet annually.
Extra frisking irks many at meet
On the backfoot after this week’s Delhi blasts, an overzealous security establishment walked an extra mile to meticulously frisked every person who entered Vigyan Bhavan for the NIC meet. The security personnel had everyone of them remove their belts — a standard practice in many places abroad —and then went ahead to frisk them irrespective of whether the door frame metal detector beeped. Meanwhile, home secretary RK Singh said he had received some complaints regarding the frisking and will take them up with agencies concerned.