Accepting the Citizens’ Charter for homeland security from
on Friday, a month after the Mumbai massacre, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that government had the primary responsibility to fight terror, but citizens could help in many ways.
“Fighting terror can only be a collective effort between the people and the government. The first way is to abide by laws. If the law is bad we can change the law. Citizens can share information with the police. There is unfortunately the fear of police stations. You must get over this fear,” he said.
The charter was the result of a fortnight’s public forum opened to the public by Hindustan Times and CNN-IBN, inviting suggestions on ways to fight terror. It drew 4,915 responses and 1,62,459 pledges to cooperate in helping authorities fight terror, which were evaluated by a panel of experts: Kiran Bedi, IPS (retired), Maj. Gen. (retired) Afsir Karim and Dr Amitabh Mattoo, expert on political strategy.
The jury shortlisted 10 actionable suggestions as a printed document, the Citizens’ Charter. In their note, the jury’s conclusion reflected the suggestion that “A central (security) agency will be able to monitor strategic progress and success of programmes for fighting terrorism.”
Reacting to the charter, the Home Minister said, “Every suggestion is unexceptionable.”
On the crucial issue of police reform as the first, basic defense against terror, the Home Minister said, “I can only advise, caution, nudge the state governments. Eventually it is the state governments, which have to set up their own institutions. We have called the chief ministers’ conference and now the time is ripe to accept and implement some of these suggestions. I share the anguish of the people, but what is needed now is to direct that anger against those who are not delivering on the ground.”