Terror Related Violence On Decline, Record Flow Of Tourists In J&K: PM

Terror Related Violence On Decline, Record Flow Of Tourists In J&K: PM

5 June 2013
The Daily Excelsior


New Delhi: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today said that security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has shown significant improvement as terrorist violence parameters of last year were lowest since the upsurge of militancy more than 20 years ago. 2012 saw a significant improvement in the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he said. “Our strategy to prevent cross-border infiltration by militants and our intelligence based counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a decline in the level of terrorist violence by about one-third in 2012 as compared to 2011,” Singh said inaugurating a conference of Chief Ministers on internal security here. The smile on the face of State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was quite visible as the Prime Minister made this remark. In fact, terrorist violence parameters in 2012 have been the lowest since the upsurge in terrorist activities two decades ago, Singh said. The Prime Minister said Jammu and Kashmir, which is otherwise considered as militancy-hit State, has seen a record number of tourists due to improved security situation. “The record inflow of tourists and pilgrims during 2012 also points to an improved security situation in the State. The implementation of several infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir is progressing well,” he said. Singh also said that the Centre’s initiative for providing skill development training for the youths of Jammu and Kashmir was bearing fruit. “The Himayat and Udaan schemes which aim at providing additional gainful employment to the youth have also achieved a fair measure of success,” he said, adding that all these were “welcome developments”. The Prime Minister said the Centre would convene an all-party meet on Monday to evolve a “broader national consensus” on the strategy to deal with Naxal violence. “To build a broader national consensus on the strategy to tackle the Naxalite challenge, Government has convened a meeting of all political parties on the 10th of this month,” the Prime Minister said. He said time had now come to view the challenges of terrorism, communal violence and Left Wing Extremism in a holistic manner. “I think each one of us needs to be completely objective in our approach to these issues, acting in national interest rising above narrow political and ideological divides,” the Prime Minister said. He appealed to political parties and all sections of society to work together to find effective ways and means of meeting these grave challenges. Describing as a “setback” the recent Naxal attack on Congress workers in Chhattisgarh, the Prime Minister emphasised the need for the Centre and States to work together to eliminate such largescale attacks. The Central Government on its part had already started taking steps in this regard, Dr Singh said. “The Cabinet Secretary, the Home Secretary and my office have been involved in an exercise that would lead to a further strengthening of our defensive and offensive capabilities against Left Wing Extremists,” he said and hoped that State Governments would fully cooperate and add to the effectiveness of these efforts. Assuring states that the challenges posed by Naxalism have received serious attention from the Centre for quite some time now, the Prime Minister said, “We have adopted a two-pronged strategy to deal with the challenge: conducting proactive and sustained operations against Maoist extremists; and, addressing development and governance issues in Left Wing Extremism affected areas.” He emphasised that the two-pronged strategy needed to be strengthened and pursued with rigour. “Even as we intensify our efforts to strengthen the security and intelligence apparatus in areas affected by Maoist violence, we should be able to ensure that people residing in Left Wing Extremist affected areas are able to live in an environment of peace and security and derive full benefits of our development efforts,” he said The Prime Minister stressed that the Centre and States should join hands to ensure that such events do not recur. “I have noted from the agenda papers that there is a separate session on Left Wing Extremism in this conference and I would urge you to make good use of this opportunity to come up with some concrete measures to deal with the very grave threat of Naxalism,” he said. Singh said the Chhattisgarh Naxal attack was a “setback” to the success story achieved by the Government in tackling the maoists. “In the last couple of years there has been a substantial reduction in the number of incidents and deaths caused by Left Wing Extremist groups and an increase in the number of Naxalite surrenders. “But, major violent attacks by Naxalites like the recent one in Chhattisgarh are setbacks that have occurred periodically,” Singh, who was flanked by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, said. He said the Centre had already started taking steps like further strengthening defensive and offensive capabilities against Left Wing Extremists. “I hope the State Governments will cooperate fully with us and add to the effectiveness of these efforts.” The Prime Minister, while talking about the North East, said the security situation in the region continues to be complex, with insurgency, extortion and agitations being the main disruptive elements in the hands of the insurgents. However, there has been considerable progress in dialogue with several insurgent and ethnic separatist groups in the North-East, he said and added that the Centre was committed to undertake and bring to a satisfactory conclusion dialogue with all groups which are willing to give up violence to seek solution within the framework of Constitution. On the issue of improving border management and coastal security, he said greater focus and priority than before was being given to the work of fencing and construction of additional Border Outposts along the India-Bangladesh border, construction and up-gradation of roads along the India-China, India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders as well as development of integrated check posts on India-Pakistan and India-Nepal borders. “The need for coordinated efforts by Central and State agencies to deal with terrorism and other security challenges, irrespective of whether they are internal or external in origin, has been emphasised in all earlier conferences…I would urge you once more to explore how we can achieve even better coordination between the Centre and States,” the Prime Minister said. He said Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been set up as an autonomous body in August 2012 to administer the Gorkhaland region and ensure its all-round development. “The Centre is committed to providing financial assistance of Rs 200 crore per annum for three years for projects aimed at developing the socio-economic infrastructure in the GTA areas,” he said. Singh sought setting up of an institutional mechanism for safety and security of women and children, especially in urban areas, saying collective action was required for their protection. He said the issue which requires collective action was that of crimes against women and children for which the Government has enacted several laws providing stringent punishment and more sensitive treatment of victims during investigation and trial. “We also need to put in place institutional mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of women and children, particularly in the urban context. “Such mechanisms include sensitisation of police personnel, particularly at levels with which the victim comes into contact, setting up dedicated helplines, measures for safety at the work place, and so on. I would urge all of you to explore how these outcomes can be best achieved,” he said. The Prime Minister referred to the recently enacted Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 for safety and security of women and children. Singh also drew the attention of the Chief Ministers to the increase in number and intensity of incidents of communal violence in 2012 than the previous year saying this requires special attention. “I am sure that all of us agree that maintenance of communal harmony in our country is critical for our continued growth and prosperity. It is absolutely imperative that we deal very firmly with communal forces of all types. Simultaneously, we also need to recognise and address the special needs of minorities and weaker sections of our society, particularly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes,” he said. Meanwhile, India today blamed Pakistan for trying to revive Sikh militancy and said youth are being trained in ISI facilities to carry out terror attacks in the country. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said there have been significant developments on the Sikh militancy front and its commanders based in Pakistan are under pressure from the ISI to further the Pakistani intelligence agency’s terror plans not only in Punjab but also other parts of India. “Sikh youth are being trained in ISI facilities in Pakistan. Interdictions and interrogations have revealed use of jailed cadres, unemployed youth, criminals and smugglers by Pak-based Sikh terror groups for facilitating terror attacks,” he said addressing the conference of Chief Ministers on internal security. Shinde said Sikh youth based and settled in Europe and the US were also being motivated towards militancy and a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives, including RDX have managed to find its way into Punjab through the borders. He said a significant quantity of RDX has since been recovered in police action in Rajasthan and Punjab in the last one year. The Home Minister said India continues to face serious challenges to its internal security scenario from Jehadi terrorists and terror groups were taking advantage of communication channels which have become more sophisticated over a period of time. “From mobile phones, terrorists today have moved on to use of satellite phones, Thuraya sets, use of spoofed IDs and coded transactions over e-mail and chat sessions, besides Voice over Internet Protocol to communicate across the border,” he said. The Home Minister said India’s long and porous border with Bangladesh and Nepal have been used by Pak-based jehadi groups to ex-filtrate terrorists out of India for training in Pakistan and induction of terrorist elements, hardware and finance into India. “Jehadi tanzeems in Pakistan with affiliation to LeT, JeM and IM have set up channels for transfer of funds from Pakistan to India via Gulf and Nepal, besides using Western Union Money Transfer and Hawala channel. Moreover, ex-SIMI cadres and similar militant elements based in Gulf have also been observed collecting money for causing destruction in India,” he said. Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, Shinde said the declining trend in violence continues in the state with 35.29 per cent decline in incidents in 2012 compared to 2011. There has also been a decrease in civilian and security force casualties by 51.61 per cent and 54.54 per cent respectively. The terrorist strength in the Valley has also declined. “However, the cross border terrorist infrastructure is intact. The training camps continue – as do the infiltration attempts. Nepal route continues to be exploited for infiltration of militants,” he said. He said there were reports that terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have come down to 21 from 42 but that needed to be verified. Shinde said to combat terrorism, there exists a very close and effective coordination amongst intelligence agencies at the Centre and State level and intelligence inputs about possible designs and threats are shared with the State Governments concerned on a regular basis. “The Multi Agency Centre (MAC) has been strengthened and reorganised to enable it to function on 24×7 basis for real time collation and sharing of intelligence. This has resulted in busting of many terrorist modules and a number of possible terrorist attacks have been averted,” he said. Referring to the security situation in the North East, the Home Minister said suspension of operations agreements have been entered with various insurgent groups, which have shown willingness to give up violence and seek solutions for their problems peacefully within the Indian Constitution. “Our Government is ready to talk with any group or outfit which is willing to abjure violence and lay down arms,” he said. Commenting on probe of terror attacks by investigating agencies, Shinde said most of the incidents which happened after 26-11 have been worked out and in almost all the cases, accused persons have been arrested, several declared absconders and Red Corner Notices issued and charge sheets filed. “However, a few cases like Varanasi blast, Mehrauli blast and blasts in Hyderabad and Bengaluru are under investigation and we are hopeful of a breakthrough,” he said. The Home Minister said India continues to face the problem of high quality state-sponsored counterfeiting and the menace of counterfeiting is assuming serious proportions because of its links with money laundering, terrorist financing and international crime syndicates. “Indian investigating agencies have collected hardcore forensic evidence to support the conclusion that high quality counterfeit currency is being produced in our neighbouring countries and smuggled into India either directly or through other transit routes,” he said. Shinde said forensic and other technical analysis clearly indicate that fake Indian currency notes are produced in sophisticated currency printing machines using many of the raw materials and processes used to print regular currency notes. “We live in a troubled neighbourhood and forces inimical to the country are working day in or day out to hit at the roots of our polity. “On our part, we will continue to do our best to support the State Governments to tackle the menace of terrorism. I agree that we have to go a long way in fighting this menace. At the same time, we are sure that with your cooperation we will give a firm reply to these forces of destabilisation,” he said.