Let me begin by saying that I consider your conference a valuable opportunity to interact with the leaders of the police, intelligence and security agencies on vital issues relating to internal security. I hope you have been having discussions which will enhance and deepen our understanding of internal security matters and will also lead to a consensus on what needs to be done to strengthen the country’s internal security. I very much look forward to concrete, implementable recommendations emerging out of your deliberations on this very important subject. I congratulate all those officers who have been presented with the President's Police Medal for distinguished and meritorious service and I wish them greater success in the years to come.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our police forces, our intelligence agencies and our security forces in general for their contribution to the free and fair conduct of the recently held general for their. The relative peace that prevailed both during and before the polls was in large measure facilitated by your vigilant efforts. You deserve our country’s sincere thanks for this excellent performance.
My colleague, the home minister has outlined the internal security challenges our country faces. I would therefore briefly touch upon only a few of these issues. As far as terrorism is concerned, during the past year we have achieved some major successes. Many terrorist modules have been dismantled and arrests of several important terrorists have taken place. It is on account of your alertness that we have not had a serious terrorist attack since November last year. But our success in preventing terrorist attacks can be sustained only at the price of unrelenting vigilance. There are many developments taking place in our country and outside which have a bearing on our internal security. It is important to understand their true nature and the exact way they can and they could affect us. We also need to understand better why many more local youth are being induced into participating in terrorist activities and how they are being recruited, indoctrinated and trained. The factors that cause social disharmony and alienation should be clearly known so that we can work to eliminate them. I urge you to pay particular attention to these aspects.
I have consistently held that in many ways, the Left Wing Extremism is, perhaps, the gravest internal security threat our country faces. We have discussed this in the last five years and I would like to say frankly that we have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing this menace. It is a matter of concern that despite our efforts, the level of violence in the affected states continues to rise.
As I have stated before, dealing with Left Wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy, a holistic approach – it cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem. Despite its sanguinary nature, the movement manages to retain the support of a section of the tribal communities and the poorest of the poor in many affected areas. It has influence among certain sections of the civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth. It still retains a certain élan. All this adds to the complexity of the problem. I expect you to keep this in mind as you devise newer and better strategies to deal with this problem.
The situation in the Northeastern parts of our country is also far from comfortable. In two of the states, viz., Manipur and Assam, current levels of violence give us cause for concern. In addition, extortion and intimidation have become a menace across most of the states in the region and they have reached a point where they constitute a serious hampering of the implementation of a number of development projects in these states. I believe, it should be possible, to bring about a substantial improvement in the situation if there is better security management. I would, therefore, enjoin upon the DGPs of the states in the Northeast to insist upon, and achieve, higher levels of professionalism from the Forces they command. Firm but compassionate handling of law and order matters, can certainly bring about substantial improvement in the prevailing state of affairs. Particularly so, as in terms of number, we are dealing with a very limited number of people who have gone stray. If we do not and we cannot deal with them at the present stage of our development, it might be more difficult at a later date to tame these evil forces.
In the case of Jammu & Kashmir, we have reasons to be satisfied that elections to both the State Assembly and our Parliament during the past year were held in a peaceful atmosphere. The level of violence in the state has also come down and is perhaps at its lowest level since the beginning of insurgency in the late 80s.
But there is no scope for complacency. There are certain developments that are worrisome. Infiltration across the Line of Control and also via other routes such as Nepal, Bangladesh and the sea is going up. Encounters with armed militants have become more frequent in recent weeks and months. Secessionist and militant groups within the State are once again attempting to make common cause with outside elements and have embarked on a series of protest movements. The intention apparently is to create an impression of widespread turmoil in the state. We must not and I repeat we must not allow such a situation to develop. It is imperative that these disruptive efforts are contained, controlled and effectively checked.
I would like to compliment my friend, the home minister and his team for the efforts they have made in the last many months to improve our internal security situation. I am happy that action is being taken on the report of the task force that I had announced in this very last conference. This, together with the Action Plans drawn up by the home ministry, should go a long way to improve police performance, make the security Agencies more responsive to terrorist threats and improve their overall efficiency.
I would particularly like to commend to you the idea of our agencies developing strategic foresight to anticipate future surprise attacks like the one that took place in Mumbai in November last year. Improved intelligence generation and coordination are critical to developing such a capability. Also, like in other areas of governance, new technology and technological innovations can go a very long way in improving our performance in all dimensions of the internal security challenges. I am confident that the establishment of a secure net-centric information command structure would substantially improve the capabilities of our Agencies to deal with the internal security challenges.
Let me now move to certain areas in which the central and state governments need to take quick action. It is absolutely imperative that we strengthen policing at the grassroots level. The Police Station has to be the fulcrum around which this needs to take place. A large increase in the number of police stations along with raising the strength of police stations has to be undertaken. We need far higher numbers of policemen and policewomen to improve the present low police-population ratio of 145 per hundred thousand of population. As a first step, I would urge all of you to do everything possible to fill up the large number of vacancies that exist today at various levels in our police force. At the same time greater attention has to be paid to the provision of adequate amenities for the constables and I would like to particularly emphasize a provision of housing facilities for our policemen. A situation in which a large number of policemen are compelled to make private arrangements for renting houses is fraught with serious problems, particularly, from the view point of enforcement of effective law and order.
But increasing numbers will not be enough. We need a new-age policeman who is more professional, better-motivated, suitably empowered, well-trained, one who places greater emphasis on technology for investigation and other tasks. Emphasis should be on capacity building from the police station level itself, so that the police is better equipped. Each police station should aim at being self-sufficient and needs to be given the required resources in terms of anti-riot gear, better weapons, the nucleus of a mobile forensic unit and be connected to a networked criminal data base management system. Every city should have a modern police control room with digitized maps. The key here lies in the plans for the modernization of our police force. I am aware that the police modernization framework is being substantially enlarged, but I would still urge that modernization of the Police should receive the highest priority. Our police forces must operate on the frontiers of modern technology. We must also design systems and procedures which will minimize scope for corruption. We should have a sufficiently long-term perspective in this area and also the required amount of funds should be made available for the purpose.
I must specially emphasize here the critical importance of training for policemen. I understand that on the average a police officer is retrained only once in about 20 years. This is totally inadequate in the changed circumstances and this must be rectified. It would also help if the police were to benchmark their training curricula with the syllabi and training methodologies of police training institutions elsewhere in the world to ensure better quality. The world is changing and changing very rapidly and Police training must keep pace with the best practices being followed in the world.
Today, there is little research in subjects related to the police and policing. An analytical approach to the problems and difficulties that come in the way of better policing could prove extremely useful. I would like the proposals for the setting up of a National Police University and also of a national institute for law and order-related subjects to be pursued more vigorously. We need first-rate institutions to come up, which are capable of looking at all such issues in a truly holistic manner paying particular attention to problems of effective policing in rural areas as well as in major metropolitan cities and thereby create a body of literature on all these vital subjects.
I conclude by reminding you of your solemn obligation towards the common citizen, someone who has little by way of resources to defend himself or herself against crime and criminals. Indeed, it is your solemn duty to protect the weak and the defenceless. Those who seek to promote communal violence and discord have to be dealt with firmly. Special efforts must be made to establish a relationship of trust and confidence between our police forces and the minority communities. You must not fail in this aspect. The underprivileged and weaker sections of our society- the minorities, the SCs and STs, women and senior citizens- should feel adequate confidence in the ability of our police force to protect. The common man should go about his daily life with a sense of security. He should have faith in the policeman and the police station. And this I believe is the real test of our efforts, a test that we cannot afford to fail.
As I conclude, I wish you all the very best practices being efforts to strengthen India’s internal security. I am confident that we will collectively succeed in meeting this enormous challenge. May God bless your paths