New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday that cross-border terrorism, the Maoist insurgency and separatist movements in the North-East were the gravest threats to India’s security, pledging to overcome the challenge they pose.
“Each one of these threats requires determination, hard work and continuous vigilance to tackle,” Singh said at a New Delhi conference of chief ministers on internal security. “These threats to our society and country constitute a challenge that we must and shall overcome at all costs.”
Singh’s speech coincided with the start of a 72-hour general strike called by Maoist rebels in five states and a partial strike in three states to protest talks between the state governments and the Centre on issues of price rise and internal security.
Tough words: Home minister P. Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting of chief ministers. Atul Yadav/PTI
“Hostile groups and elements operate from across the border to perpetrate terrorist acts in the country. The state of Jammu and Kashmir bears the brunt of the acts of these groups,” Singh said.
He urged chief ministers to develop specialist commando forces in their states to deter terrorist attacks and create special intervention units to “enhance the speed and decisiveness of quick response teams”.
Singh said the November 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai had “made us painfully aware of the need to strengthen our coastal security”.
He said the National Committee on Coastal Security had been constituted to adopt an integrated approach to the issue. “The committee has taken action to increase the level of patrolling and surveillance along the Indian coastline and bring about greater coordination between the various agencies that can contribute to security along our coasts,” he said.
“The issue of multi-purpose identity cards with biometric features to residents in coastal areas is expected to be completed by September,” Singh said, while the process of registration of boats and vessels has accelerated.
Home minister P. Chidambaram said the Centre had wanted to encourage state governments to talk to Naxalites, as Maoists are known, if they abjured violence, but the offer had been spurned by the rebels.
“Hence, in consultation with the chief ministers of Naxal-affected states, we decided to boldly confront the challenge...,” he said.
Maoists on Sunday blew up railway tracks on the Jhaja-Jasidih section of the East Central Railway in Bihar’s Jamui district and killed an alleged police informer in Orissa’s Sundergarh district during the shutdown.
The general strike had been called in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh, and a partial strike in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.