There is more talk than action on security

December 18th, 2007 - 6:43 pm ICT by admin  

Attn: News Editors/News Desks: Following is an article by Mr. I. Ramamohan Rao, former Principal Information Officer, Government of India, and now Chief Editor, ANI. We do hope this will be of interest to your esteemed publication.
ANI News Desk
There is more talk than action on security
By I. Ramamohan Rao
New Delhi, Dec 18 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold a meeting on security in the Capital on Thursday, which will be attended by the Chief Ministers of different States.
The agenda for the meeting is almost identical to the one that was held almost two years ago in April 2005. The present meeting is being held in the backdrop of the prison break in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, where 299 Naxals broke out in a matter of 20 minutes two days ago.
There have been jailbreaks earlier, statements have been issued that steps have been taken to strengthen security at all sensitive establishments. One waits for the next major incident.
Almost every day, one hears of violence erupting in different parts of India. Most of them are committed by militants of various hues, particularly in western and north eastern parts of the country.
The country has been witness to terrorist violence for over a decade or more. Terrorist organizations seem to have plenty of resources to provoke communal tension, create a wedge between communities, and to target vital installations, including places of worship.
Almost every part of India has been affected by violence and, there is a feeling of drift.
In Jammu and Kashmir, what started of as a proxy war promoted by Pakistan almost two decades ago, has gathered its own momentum. Pakistan is today engaged in controlling the situation within its boundaries. However, in Kashmir, there are organizations and individuals for whom militancy has become a profession.
In the north-east too, what started as an underground movement in Nagaland in the 1960s supported by China, has lingered on. It has had a contagious effect in Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam itself.
In Assam, trouble started when the people of the State wanted migrants from Bangladesh to leave the area. The United Liberation Front of Assam was born, and paradoxically, the leaders of the ULFA have been given shelter in Bangladesh itself.
In Manipur, ethnic Nagas have been campaigning for a Greater Nagaland. The people of Manipur have started their own brand of militancy. Now, each political group in the State is reported to have its own militant outfit.
The situation in the north-east has deteriorated to such an extent that different militant groups have been levying a tax on traders and government servants. They also have a say in the running of the administration.
The greatest threat that the country faces is from the Naxalites. One estimate is that they have influence in 55 districts. To start with, they styled themselves as Leftists or Communists, and were active in Andhra Pradesh. When the Communist movement split, they became Marxist Communists and later the Maoists.
According to a recent survey, 35 districts in the country have been worst affected by Naxalism. They are in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, even parts of Karnataka and Kerala.
The Central Government has issued statements which proclaim that it is committed to strongly deal with the Naxalites. The Centre has also made efforts to have a unified approach to counter it. The movement thrives on the deprivation of the people, and the Centre has earmarked resources for development efforts in the areas.
These grants are being made available under programmes like the Backward Region Grant Fund, the Prime Ministers Gram Sadak Yojana and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.
Similarly efforts are being made to modernise the police forces. The Centre has also undertaken to reimburse the security related expenditure of the States even to the extent of 100 per cent. Unfortunately, in many cases, the money is not spent
One of the main needs for fighting Naxalite violence is the availability of good intelligence, both strategic and tactical. There is a need to strengthen it.
However, law and order being a State subject, each State is reluctant to allow the Centre to interfere. In the initial years after Independence, the Congress Party ruled in almost all States in the country and the directive from the Centre used to have the needed impact.
Thankfully, today there is no lack of resources in the country, both economic and otherwise. One only knew of the Central Reserve Police in the early years. Now, we have the Border Security Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, and different States have raised Special Forces. The Indian Army is also being used for counter-insurgency operations.
Funds have also been earmarked for development activities in Naxalite-affected areas and to tackle the problem in a holistic manner. Two years ago, addressing the conference of Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister said that extremism is not merely a law and order issue. Development, or rather the lack of it, has a critical bearing, as do exploitation and iniquitous socio-political circumstances. .
But what does one do, as the Prime Minister said when schools do not run, dispensaries do not open and PDS shops remain closed.
We have heard in the past that the Centre is working out a strategy to deal with the security situation in the country. We have been told that efforts are being made to ensure integrated functioning of the States in a Federal set up as far as security is concerned. .
It would mean the strengthening of the Intelligence Bureau at the Centre as also the Special Bureaus in the States. It would also be necessary to have a Central investigation agency which would be able to investigate matters which have inter-state or international linkages.
One also hears a great deal about Police Reforms, particularly after the directive issued by the Supreme Court. Will the States take action as directed or try to circumvent so that they do not lose control over the Police.
The fear is that there will be much talk and little action. One hopes we will not have to wait for the next jail break or terrorist attack.
I. Ramamohan Rao, former Principal Information Officer, Government of India.
Alternate E-address: (ANI)

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