New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who until the other day was accused of blowing cold on the issue of terror attacks on Indian soil by Pakistan-based groups, blew hot on Monday and warned that he had intelligence that militants from across the border were plotting new attacks on India and asked the security forces to stay on high alert.
Action plan: (from left) National security advisor M.K. Narayanan, home minister P. Chidambaram, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ministers of state for home M. Ramchandran and Ajay Maken, and principal secretary to the Prime Minster T.K.A. Nair at the inauguration of the conference in New Delhi on Monday. Shahbaz Khan / PTI
The warning was reiterated by home minister P. Chidambaram. “We shall not lower our guard...we must keep our powder dry,” he told reporters. “That does not mean that there is an imminent attack.”
Both Singh and Chidambaram were speaking at a conference of chief ministers on the subject of internal security.
“There is credible information of ongoing plans of terrorist groups in Pakistan to carry out fresh attacks. The area of operation of these terrorists today extends far beyond the confines of Jammu and Kashmir and covers all parts of our country,” Singh told the chief ministers.
“After the Mumbai attacks, we have put in place additional measures. There is need for continued utmost vigilance,” he added, referring to the 26 November terror attacks in Mumbai by a Pakistan-based group in which 166 people were killed. New Delhi had suspended talks with Pakistan after the attack saying that the process could resume only after Islamabad takes steps to dismantle the terrorist network on its soil.
In July, Singh and his Pakistani counterpart issued a joint statement saying action on terrorism should not be linked to the dialogue process.
Singh’s move to delink the dialogue process from Islamabad’s action against terrorist elements on its soil drew sharp criticism from the opposition as well as some of the allies of the Congress party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies, Centre for Policy Research, a Delhi-based think tank, said Singh’s statement seemed to show an effort to correct that mistake.
“It is strange admission by the Prime Minister. Normally, the Prime Minister does not scare the people,” he added.
In the meeting with chief ministers, Singh spoke about the growing threat posed by the Maoist movement.
“There are also indications of yet more offensive action by these groups. The problem of Left-wing extremism is indeed a complex one. There is need for a balanced and nuanced strategy to deal with it,” he said.
Chief ministers of states most affected by this movement, in a separate meeting with the home minister in the evening, asked the Centre to work out a decisive strategy to combat Left-wing extremism.
Raman Singh, chief minister of Chhattisgarh, one of the worst-affected states, wanted the Union government to categorize “Naxal violence as national disaster so that the affected persons can get relief from National Disaster Relief Fund”. He has also asked the Centre to create a police force trained in jungle warfare.