24 Nov 2013

Prime Minister’s speech at the annual conference of DGPs

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s speech at the annual conference of DGPs in New Delhi today: 

“This is probably the ninth year that I have been addressing this important conference. I don’t know if I have anything new to say on this occasion, that I have not said earlier. But it is a pleasure for me to be associated with the Intelligence Bureau completing 125 years of its existence. I therefore begin by extending my very warm greetings to all past and present members of the Intelligence Bureau on completion of 125 years of its existence and service to our country. 

I am very happy that the Intelligence Bureau, or IB as it is commonly called, has achieved some major successes in this very special year. It was, I have been told, the intelligence gathered by the organisation that led to the arrest of some suspects of several terror attacks. I congratulate the IB on these achievements. 

The past year also saw a massive tragedy in Uttarakhand. A large number of officers and men of the police and para-military forces made a stellar contribution to the relief and rescue operations that were undertaken in the State. I particularly pay homage to those who lost their lives in attempting to save others. 

Very recently our intelligence organisations and police and para-military forces have done commendably well in maintaining law and order during polls in the naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh. 

The successes that I have just mentioned also point to the diverse range of challenges that our security apparatus faces. I understand that the important ones of these challenges are a part of the agenda of your conference. I am sure that over the past 2 days you have had productive discussions on the issues before you. I only propose to add my own perception of some issues to what has already transpired in this important conference. 

But before I do that, let me congratulate the very fine officers who have received medals today. I wish them even greater success in the future. 

During the current year some States of the Union have witnessed a substantial increase in the number of communal incidents. A major communal clash in Muzaffarnagar and the adjoining districts of Western Uttar Pradesh in September took a large toll of lives and displaced thousands of innocent people. This is most worrisome. It sounds like a cliché but is necessary to say that we simply cannot afford such a state of affairs to continue. Our law and order agencies must, therefore, ensure that trivial or local issues are not exploited by vested interests to flame communal passions. And once disturbances occur they must be tackled with the utmost firmness and speed, without prejudice, fear or favour. The State Governments have the responsibility to ensure this, and State DGPs present here have the responsibility to ensure that their police forces act in the required manner in preventing communal tensions and dealing with them once they do take place. I expect all State DGPs to discharge this responsibility fully. 

We witnessed misuse of the social media and SMSes to fan violence during the recent disturbances in Muzaffarnagar, and also last year, when disinformation spread through these means contributed to a mass exodus of people belonging to the North-East from southern States like Karnataka. It is widely accepted that social media facilitates exchange of knowledge, information and ideas and can be used for constructive purposes. Therefore, in preventing its misuse we need to find creative solutions which do not unreasonably curb the freedom of expression and the ease of communication that social media does provide. 

This leads me to the related issue of cyber security, an area which has been in the news internationally in recent times. I think there is a vast scope for improvement in our present capabilities in this area. Apart from finding technological solutions, we must also concentrate on designing our processes in a manner such that our vulnerability to cyber attacks is minimized. I would be interested in knowing about the proceedings of this conference in this important area and also about their follow up. 

A little while back I spoke about the recent successful conduct of polls in the naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh. The high voting percentage that was witnessed in these areas clearly underlines the faith of the local population in processes of our functioning democracy. We have also witnessed a declining trend of naxal violence over the last few years. This is a result of the combined efforts of the Central and State Governments and is a really encouraging development. It is important that we don’t let up on our efforts to root out the menace of naxalism and continue to build on our successes. This necessarily implies that we also have to improve the quality of governance and the pace of development in the naxal-affected areas. I would also like to emphasize here the need to maintain the centrality of the local police forces in any anti-naxal operation and the need to sensitize the security forces being inducted into any of the naxal-affected areas to the socio-cultural practices of the local people. 

This year, Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed a few brazen attacks on our security forces. The situation along the International Border and the Line of Control, particularly in Poonch district of Jammu region has remained volatile with several ceasefire violations. Resurgence of terrorist groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba and increased infiltration attempts call for heightened vigil and coordination by our security forces. There is also a likelihood of attempts to disrupt the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. The security forces also need to be careful and measured in their response to militant attacks as well as law and order disturbances. 

As I have said on a number of occasions, there should be nothing which affects the role of innocent citizens in leading their normal lives, and our attack on naxals and other such bad elements, should not in any way affect or disturb the livelihood patterns of local people. The security situation in the North-East continues to remain complex, with insurgency, extortion and agitations being the main disruptive elements. Persistent efforts on part of the Government have resulted in considerable progress in the dialogue with insurgent and ethnic separatist groups. Further, the susceptibility of Lower Assam areas and Karbi Anglong region of the State to ethnic and communal tensions, the growing mistrust between tribals and non-tribals in Bodo areas, the Garo insurgency in Meghalaya, the increasing targeting of non-Manipuris in Manipur are also areas of considerable concern. We need to tackle all these issues with collective resolve and firm determination. 

As far as terrorism is concerned, four major incidents occurred this year, in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bodhgaya and Patna. The disclosures made by the arrested members of the terrorist outfits confirm our apprehensions that Indian hinterland remains an active area of operation for these outfits. Therefore, we need to ensure that our security apparatus and intelligence sharing platforms such as the Multi Agency Centre constantly hone their skills to stay ahead of the nefarious designs of these terrorist outfits. However, while dealing with terror cases, care needs to be taken that security forces remain scrupulously bipartisan so that our people do not lose faith in the professionalism of investigative agencies and the secular nature of our polity. 

The tragic rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi last December not only brought into sharp focus the issue of women’s safety but also the rising expectations of the people from the Police in preventing such crimes. We have recently enacted several laws providing stringent punishment for such crimes and more sensitive treatment of victims during investigation and trial. We also need to put in place other institutional mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of women and children. I expect the DGPs of States to show leadership in this area. 

Before I end, I would also like to draw your attention to the growing challenges of Policing in metropolitan areas. This is a subject which I have touched upon in my earlier interventions as well, but it is worth repeating again. The process of rapid urbanization that we have witnessed in the past few decades will further accelerate in the future. Factors like the anonymity offered in the urban landscape, individualistic lifestyles and floating populations make the detection of metropolitan crimes difficult, and therefore we need special techniques to tackle this growing menace. There is also a need to place greater emphasis on the concept of community policing which not only helps in the prevention and detection of crimes but also encourages citizens to associate themselves voluntarily with the local police in solving neighbourhood problems, thus generating greater public confidence in our police forces. I urge you to intensify efforts towards promoting and institutionalizing community policing initiatives. 

I realize that most of these issues have already been discussed at length in this three-day conference over the past two days. Nevertheless, I would expect the participants to go back and continue the process of serious deliberation to come up with creative solutions to the many challenges to our internal security, and also to implement the ideas that they have learnt here. I am sure that you will show the leadership that our country and our people expect from you. I wish you all the very best in your valiant efforts.” 

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