New Delhi : Underlining the need to shore up the country’s internal security machinery, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday called for superior intelligence capabilities that could prove as timely alerts to impending threats.
Manmohan Singh also pointed to the global face of terrorism and how police forces needed to go far beyond conventional responses in facing terrorist threats.
“The internal security situation in our country continues to remain a cause for concern for both the central and state governments. I have often said that most of the challenges we face are at home. Among them, the internal security challenge is one of the key ones,” said the prime minister, addressing Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police here.
Detailing the brazenness of terror attacks in recent months including the twin blasts in Hyderabad that killed over 40 people in August, violent acts in Assam and the rise in Maoist violence, he said such incidents should not only prove as a wake-up call but strengthen the resolve to improve the internal security machinery.
“Hyderabad was witness to a heinous act of terrorism recently in which many innocent lives were lost. It was committed with intent to terrorise ordinary citizens and demoralize our security apparatus,” said Manmohan Singh.
“Naxalites attempted to eliminate a former chief minister in Nellore. Violent incidents continue in some states of the North East, particularly in Manipur and Nagaland. The ethnic overtones of violent acts in Assam are particularly disturbing.”
The prime minister was making a pointed reference to the attack on former chief minister N. Janardhan Reddy last month that came after a series of setbacks suffered by Maoists in Andhra Pradesh though there were clear indicators to show that cadres were regrouping.
A day earlier, home minister Shivraj Patil while addressing the same audience emphasised that new age terror was a grave problem to contend with and said police could not afford to lag behind and had to adopt newer methods and approaches to combat the threat.
While maintaining that violence level in Jammu & Kashmir was down and security on the ground had shown improvement, Manmohan Singh lamented the spate of vigilante justice incidents around the country, especially the four back-to-back incidents in Bihar last month.
“We are seeing many incidents of vigilantism and citizens taking law into their own hands, particularly in Bihar. While some of it could be a result of personal frustration, some of it also arises out of dissatisfaction over the functioning of the law enforcement and justice system,” he said.
“We need better police forces – better in all senses – be it training, skills, equipment, resources, mobility or attitudes. We need superior intelligence capabilities which can alert us to impending threats,” Singh exhorted the country’s top police brass.
“We need greater discipline, lesser politicization and zero corruption. We are committed to supporting your efforts in this direction. However, you need to provide the necessary leadership and direction to the forces under your command.”
While pressing police chiefs to usher in better policing techniques and hone intelligence mechanisms, Manmohan Singh reminded them that maintenance of law and order should not impinge on citizenry.
“It is my belief that citizens want a secure environment in which to live and carry out their activities. Safety of their bodies and their property is their priority,” he said.
“Their worries centre around petty nuisances, harassment by local criminals or gangs, goondaism, dadagiri, and in some areas, threats of violence and even kidnapping and extortion. Women and senior citizens are concerned about their safety. Girls worry about eve teasing. Parents worry about child abuse.”
“As we get more urbanized, these offences are increasing. White collar crime too is seeing a rise.”
“Are we tackling these problems adequately? It is only by addressing these will police forces be able to reach out to citizens and win their confidence and affection. People should be willing to approach a policeman with the same assurance with which they visit a doctor. That should be your goal.”
Manmohan Singh also made references to the Justice Malimath committee on the criminal justice system and Dr Madhav Menon’s draft national policy paper on criminal justice and how work was on to see the recommendations were acted upon soon.