Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called for countering the challenge of terrorism “comprehensively” and a firm response to terror, not only security forces but also civil society and all political parties.
“Our government is determined to fight and root out terrorism and the ideologies that justify and seek to sustain it,” Singh told the internal security conference of DGPs and IGPs hours before the Opposition stalled Parliament, accusing the UPA government of being soft on internal security and Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal’s hanging.
Home minister Shivraj Patil had on Wednesday outlined the security situation in the country on Wednesday and articulated the security establishment’s approach and priorities. There was, however, no explicit reference to Pakistan who Delhi intends to keep engaged in the composite dialogue process rather than rhetorics; Singh also stuck to this script and only made an oblique reference.
“There are misguided elements at home and in our neighbourhood. Their ideologies negate all that our country stands for,” Singh said, as he spoke about the threats that “open societies” were increasingly vulnerable to from disruptive sources. These groups have embraced violence and committed themselves to use terror as a tool to weaken our polity and hamper our economic progress.
“We need a firm response from our security forces. We also need a resolute response from all those who constitute civil society and all our political parties”.
Singh said there was evidence to take terror threats from Jammu and Kashmir to other parts of the country to create fear. In the same breath, he also credited security forces for ensuring that such attempts “have remained largely unsuccessful”. “But there is no scope for complacency. We cannot be satisfied with status quo”.
Positive developments in the state had kindled the hope that “political solutions” can be found to address public grievances. The prime minister also backed Shivraj Patil’s emphasis on the imperative of bringing down the level of violence in J&K to ensure that the political process takes the desired direction. Sustaining the anti-militancy effort requires strong will and determination “but with greater sensitivity”, he said, a polite reminder to the top police brass that they may need to work harder on sensitising security personnel out in the field.
This was an area that seemed to concern Singh in other parts of the country as well. He spoke in favour of more responsive police machinery at the grassroots level; gender sensitive, humane and respectful of the rights of citizens. He also stressed the need to strengthen the civil police at the cutting edge of police station level and speedy action on police reforms.
Referring to the need for faster development of naxalite-affected areas, the prime minister suggested greater focus on employment generation, on land reforms, on redistribution of land, better education and health facilities, backed up by firm police action wherever needed.