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Terrorism, Naxalism twin threats: PM

In his I-Day speech, he asks Pakistan to take concrete steps to end cross-border terror. Full Text | Highlights | In pics

india Updated: Aug 16, 2006 09:12 IST

With the Mumbai serial blasts weighing heavily on his mind, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said terrorism and Naxalism were twin threats to the country's internal security.

"India is facing two major threats to its internal security - terrorism and Naxalism," he said in his Independence Day address from ramparts of the Red Fort.

Singh said just over a month ago, Mumbai witnessed the most inhuman terrorist attack in the recent past, killing and injuring hundreds of innocent citizens.

"Terrorists want to undermine our growing economic strength, destroy our unity and provoke communal incidents. We cannot allow this to happen. Our strength lies in our unity. We will not allow the secular fabric of our country to be broken," he said.

"Let those who want to hurt us by inflicting a thousand cuts remember -- no one can break our will or unity. No one can make India kneel," he said.

Hailing Mumbai for demonstrating its courage and patience in the wake of the terrorist attack in the recent past, the Prime Minister recalled that it could not be business as usual in the wake of the such incidents.

Assuring the nation that the Government would do its utmost to preserve its unity and integrity, he said, "We will modernise, strengthen and properly equip our security forces and our intelligence agencies. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that terrorist elements in India are neutralised and smashed."

PM asks Pak to end cross-border terror

Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to take concrete steps to end cross-border terrorism to enable the peace initiatives to succeed.

"We have taken several initiatives...To be successful, these initiatives need an atmosphere of peace. It is obvious that unless Pakistan takes concrete steps to implement the solemn assurances it has given to prevent cross-border terrorism against India from any territory within its control, public opinion in India, which has supported the peace process, will be undermined," he said.

Singh said all countries in our region must recognise that terrorism anywhere is a threat to peace and prosperity everywhere. "It must be confronted with our united efforts".

Observing that there was a large constituency for peace and shared prosperity "among our people and we must work together to build on that", he said the dream of a South Asian community could hardly be realised if terrorist violence and the politics of hate and confrontation continue to cast a dark shadow.

"We are prepared to work together with all our neighbours to usher in an era of peace and prosperity for our peoples," he said.

Checking prices priority

Singh expressed concern over the prices of essential commodities and assured citizens that "we will do whatever is required to keep prices under check."

Singh broadly hinted at revising kerosene and cooking gas prices, saying there was a 'limit' to subsidising petro products in the face of surging global crude prices but committed to keep prices of essentials under 'check'.

Stating that crude prices had shot up from 30 dollars a barrel to 75 dollars a barrel in a span of two years, he said: "We have succeeded in insulating our consumers to a great extent. Prices of kerosene and LPG have not been raised.

"But there is a limit to which we can go on subsidising the consumption of petroleum products in the face of rising import costs. How much more can the government treasury bear this burden?" Singh wondered.

NREGA, Bharat Nirman weapons in the war on poverty

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to provide income security for those living in extreme poverty and the Bharat Nirman programme to modernise villages "are our weapons in the war on poverty", he said.

He said NREGA will be "expanded gradually" to cover the entire country. "This pathbreaking Act is the most important social safety net for our poor. I am confident that this Act will help us in eradicating poverty," he said.

At present over two crore families have been registered under the Act, which currently covers 200 districts.

Describing Bharat Nirman as another programme which will modernise villages, Singh said "as our villages get fully electrified and get connected by roads and telephones, their economies will prosper. As they get better irrigation facilities, their agriculture will grow. As drinking water and housing facilities improve, their living conditions will improve. They will participate in the growth which is already visible in urban India," he said.

Noting that the most effective weapon against poverty was employment, Singh said higher economic growth was the best way to generate empoloyment.