Text of PM’s speech to top police officials


New Delhi : Following is the text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech at the Directors General of Police and Inspectors General of Police conference in Delhi:

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“Let me, at the very outset, extend my heartiest congratulations to the recipients of the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. This award is an acknowledgement of your dedicated contribution to the maintenance of law and order. I also take this opportunity to convey my deep appreciation of the police fraternity for their significant contributions in fighting the forces of terrorism and instability with determination. And all this, despite heavy constraints and scarce resources.

A policeman – like a farmer, a worker and a teacher – is an essential pillar of a civilized society. I believe that a nation and a society can be judged by how it treats each these professions. A nation that has diligent and productive farmers and workers, dedicated and committed teachers and policemen, is a truly fortunate one. The rule of law is the bedrock of any modern society. And as the key instrument for enforcing this rule, the police is one of the vital institutions of the state. I assure our police personnel that we are fully committed to their welfare and professional development. In turn we expect our police to be fearless, dedicated, competent and tough. At the same time, we expect them to be fair, humane and honest.

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.

As we scan the internal security scenario, we notice a large number of incidents which should alert us to the formidable challenges we face. Hyderabad was witness to a heinous act of terrorism recently in which many innocent lives were lost. It was committed with an intent to terrorise ordinary citizens and demoralize our security apparatus. 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. While the situation in Jammu & Kashmir has shown some overall improvement, violent incidents keep recurring. And last but not least, 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.

These incidents – and many others you are well aware of – should only strengthen our resolve to constantly improve our internal security machinery. 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. 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.

We need to work with greater commitment to eliminating the threat posed by naxalism. I have said in the past that there are many dimensions to the problems of naxalism. While concerted efforts are being on the development front to remove any feeling of alienation, the police forces need to redouble their efforts to control the spread of this phenomenon. Some states like Andhra Pradesh have demonstrated that where there is a will, there is a way forward. Other states need to work with determination and in tandem to eliminate this menace.

Terrorism has become a global phenomenon of our times. In terrorist organization, you face determined, committed and highly motivated adversaries working with evil intent. We need to go far beyond conventional responses in facing terrorist threats.

The security problems of the North East and Jammu & Kashmir have many dimensions unique to these regions. The government is working on many fronts – through dialogue processes, through development activities and through improved communication links – to tackle the problems here. All the same, the police forces have an obligation to continually work towards a safe and secure environment for the ordinary citizen.

That brings me to an important issue which often gets neglected, is certainly not a high profile issue, but is of great concern as far as ordinary citizens are concerned. This is the maintenance of law and order on matters which directly impinge citizenry. This is the bread and butter work of any police which can get neglected due to other pressures. Each one of you should ask yourself – what are people’s concerns as far as policing is concerned? What do people expect from the police. And are we effectively addressing their priorities?

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. 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.

Coming to the urgent need for reforms in the Criminal Justice System, we have the report of the Justice Malimath Committee and also the work being done by the committee under the chairmanship of Dr Madhav Menon on preparing a “Draft National Policy Paper on Criminal Justice”. I am happy that the Home Minister has initiated actions on these two reports. We must move speedily and with determination to make the required changes in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system should facilitate the creation of a social climate conducive to equitable development and social justice.

Broadly speaking, these recommendations are in two categories – one requiring wider discussions and consensus and another that can be implemented in a shorter time frame. I am hopeful that there will be forward movement on a large number of issues such as multiple criminal codes, standard of proof, trial procedures, courts ordering further investigation, admissible confessions, protection of victims and witnesses, etc. I am glad that the Home Minister has chaired a meeting of the Steering Committee of the National Police Mission. This Mission should help us create a new vision for the police and bring about a paradigm shift in their working.

Through the Mission, we need to take a hard look at police functioning. We must make them more accountable, enhance skills and competency at the grassroots, where people come in contact with police. A culture of excellence must be developed in our police force. We must also make better use of science and technology in police functioning, making them more technologically capable and equipped.

The Police Mission needs to also study modern policing issues like community policing. I would like the mission to come forward with practical solutions to problems like non-registration of FIRs. The Mission may also examine new methodologies of crowd dispersal and develop a more user-friendly police uniform. The Mission must reflect on the new inter-state and trans-national ramifications of crime and also study the Centre-State dimension of internal security administration, especially with respect to what may be called “federal crimes”. I would like Universities and Law Schools to be associated with these studies. The Home Ministry may consider funding Professorial Chairs and Research Projects in Universities and research institutions to promote research on such issues.

I will conclude by going back to what I said earlier. Seek out the citizen, identify his needs and expectations, address them on priority. Try to improve their satisfaction levels. The instruments and methods you decide to choose should be driven by this goal. Our government will support you fully in your endeavours in this direction.

I compliment and commend you once again on the vital responsibility you are so bravely discharging. I hope the conference will chart out new directions for you to work on and make the police an effective instrument of public service.