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PM to CMs: Tone up intelligence

Manmohan warns of terror attacks involving greater use of fidayeens to target economic and 'sensitive areas'.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 20:50 IST

A grim warning about "further intensification" of terrorist attacks involving greater use of fidayeen elements to target religious, economic and other "sensitive objects" was the centrepoint of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's address to the conclave of Congress chief ministers on Saturday.

He asked the chief ministers to tone up the intelligence machinery in the states, concentrate on "actionable" intelligence and make the entire bureaucracy accountable.

Addressing their two-day conclave presided by Congress President Sonia Gandhi here, he talked about the internal security situation, mainly the issues of terrorism, communal tension and naxalism.

He said the activities of externally-sponsored terror outfits were "equally worrisome" as their involvement in the country has grown.

"The concern is that there could be a further intensification involving greater use of fidayeen elements and targeting of a wider range of religious, economic and sensitive objects," Singh told the chief ministers of 14 Congress-ruled states.

He termed as disconcerting reports that suggest the existence of a number of terrorist modules and sleeper cells in some urban areas which provide the backup for foreign terrorist outfits.

He rejected the "erroneous linkage" made by the West in tarnishing the image of the Muslim community due to the actions of a few. He said that "pro-active" efforts were needed to address the underlying sense of insecurity among sizeable sections of this minority.

The Prime Minister contended that while every care was being taken to dispel any such notion, "still, a sense of insecurity seems to pervade the minority community. This can have terrible consequences for our polity."

"More proactive efforts to ensure that the individual acts of a few do not result in a fear complex enveloping the entire community leading to feelings of persecution and alienation, have become imperative," he stressed.

Singh decried "deliberate attempts" being made by "some elements" in Jammu and Kashmir to incite people using stray incidents and preventing return to normalcy by carrying out grenade attacks on tourists and innocent people.

"We need to continue pursuing our efforts with vigour -- both with the people of the State and with our neighbour, Pakistan -- in pursuit of our goal," he told the meet also attended by several Union Ministers including Shivraj Patil and P Chidambaram and top AICC functionaries.

Dwelling on the threats posed by terrorism, Singh said at the national level, intelligence agencies have been directed to employ innovative and modern analytical techniques while at the State level, Chief Ministers have been told to tone up their intelligence machinery.

"This should go down to the local police station levels," he said adding officers must be asked to explain whether all sensitive town are covered by intelligence agencies.

"It is not sufficient to react and make public pronouncements and take placatory measures. The entire bureaucracy should be made accountable," the Prime Minister said.

On the spread of Naxalism in states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, the Prime Minister said chief ministers should personally monitor the problems of naxalite-affected areas including the proper utilization of the large amounts of money provided underdevelopment programmes.

For dealing with Naxalite-related issues, an Empowered Group of Ministers was being constituted and it will be headed by the Home Minister and include select chief ministers, he said.

Singh said in the north eastern states while violence levels have fallen as compared to past years, the region "remains trouble-prone".

He said Manipur "remains currently the most disturbed" with almost 40 per cent of all violent incidents reported from this region emanating from this state.

He attributed one of the reasons for this to the "growing divide" between the Nagas and Kukis in the Hill districts and the Meiteis in the plains. Singh said the growing consolidation among various underground formations and ethnic groups was another factor. "This needs to be reserved".

The Prime Minister said while the internal security situation in the country was "by no means alarming", the growing complexity of this issue required "new thinking".

Elaborating, he said, "The key challenge we face in dealing with internal problems is that while taking necessary steps to maintain order, we do not undermine the basic principles and precepts on which our pluralist democracy is based".

Doing some plain speaking on the problems confronting the agriculture sector, he said, "We need to shift from subsidies for current consumption to step up investment in agriculture whose benefits will accrue in the long term."

To help farmers, short-crop term loans were being provided at seven per cent interest and cooperative credit system was being revived through a package of Rs 13,000 crore.

He said there was need to free agricultural markets from unnecessary regulations. The Prime Minister said Congress-ruled states must stand out as "role models" of good governance across the country.

First Published: Sep 23, 2006 19:58 IST