PC Sounds Infiltration Alert1 February 2010
New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram Monday expressed concern over spurt in the infiltration bids along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the security forces and police to remain at a high level of alert against militant activities in the State. “The year 2010 began with the government cautioning the Jammu and Kashmir state to remain alert against militant activities. This was mainly due to increase in the attempts to infiltrate across the international border and the LoC”, he said this at a press conference here today. The Minister said that 10 attempts were made alone in January to infiltrate, “but were neutralised by the security forces.” However, he expressed satisfaction over the last year situation in the State, which witnessed lowest level of incidents and casualties in many years. “Looking back, it is a matter of satisfaction that Jammu and Kashmir witnessed very low incidents. There were 499 incidents in which 78 civilians and 64 security forces were killed and 239 militants neutralised,” he said. TALKS WITH PAKISTAN Chidambaram said that bilateral talks with Pakistani leaders could be on the anvil if he goes to Islamabad for the SAARC Interior Ministers’ Conference. “I presume if I go to Pakistan, we will hold bilateral talks if there is an opportunity. But remember SAARC is a multilateral forum,” Chidambaram said when asked about his proposed visit. Islamabad is to host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Interior Ministers’ Conference on February 20, and informed sources say that Chidambaram could make the trip. There has been no ministerial visit from India to Pakistan since the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The last visit was by Pranab Mukherjee in May 2008 who was then the external affairs minister. The SAARC conference will be attended by ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and is expected to discuss regional cooperation for dealing with terrorism, narcotics and organised crime. NSA’S ROLE Chidambaram was non-committal on the role of National Security Adviser related to internal security saying it was for the Prime Minister who will decide on this as well as on the issue of reorganising the Home Ministry. “That is for the Prime Minister to decide. In the (proposed) National Counter Terrorism Centre, we have not discussed the role of NSA. He advises the government and the Prime Minister. It is entirely the privilege of the Prime Minister to entrust him with any responsibility,” he said. Chidambaram was asked if he had redefined the role of new NSA Shiv Shankar Menon in the wake of exit of M K Narayanan from that post recently. INTERNAL SECURITY MINISTRY Chidambaram said there is no forward movement on a dedicated internal security ministry, an idea mooted by him in December last year. The minister said he had decided to create an internal arrangement in the ministry and delegated matters not related to security to his two junior ministerial colleagues - M. Ramachandran and Ajay Maken - till his December idea fructifies. This leaves the home minister concentrating full time on internal security issues like insurgency in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir and tackling Maoist problems in tribal-dominated central Indian states. “It is a matter of reorganising the ministry of home affairs. That will be decided by the prime minister. There is no forward movement as such. But I have decided that all work related to non-internal security matters will be allocated to two ministers of state,” Chidambaram said. He said the arrangement would help him so that “I can conserve my time for internal security matters”. Chidambaram had suggested in December that a division of the current functions of the ministry of home affairs was necessary. “Subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate ministry or should be brought under a separate department in the home ministry and dealt with by a minister, more or less independently, without referring every issue to the home minister,” he had said while delivering the Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture in New Delhi. The home ministry under its jurisdiction has also to deal with issues not related to security, which include centre-state relations, disaster management, census and even freedom fighters. NAXALISM Home minister said the situation in states affected by Left-wing extremism continues to be a cause of grave concern and the number of deaths last year indicated a rising trend. Last year, there were 1,125 deaths - these included 591 civilians, 317 security personnel and 217 militants. This is far more than the 721 deaths in 2008, and the toll of 696 in 2007. “The situation in the states affected by Left-wing extremism continues to be a cause of grave concern. The number of deaths in 2009 indicated a rising trend,” Chidambaram said.