PM recommends anti-terror task force, gives 100-day deadline (Roundup)

November 23rd, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) With terror bombings mounting across the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday recommended a task force under National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan to address “Leftwing extremism, terrorism and insurgency”, and urged the police to avoid stereotypes that might enlarge “fault lines in our society”.Addressing the director generals of police (DGPs) and inspector generals of police (IGPs) at their annual conference here, Manmohan Singh said it was imperative to improve the intelligence machinery and undertake police reforms to be able to deal with such threats.

The task force under Narayanan, with suitable representation from central and state agencies, should draw a roadmap within 100 days to develop an integrated capability to address emerging challenges of Leftwing extremism, terrorism and insurgency, the prime minister said.

He pointed out that the country could not afford to have a “repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks” as witnessed in recent months.

“I only wish to emphasise here that time is not on our side. We cannot afford a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati and some other urban centres,” he said.

Noting that the technology of terror has become miniaturised and terrorists have the advantage of surprise, the prime minister said a “networked security architecture” was essential as “risks are often unforeseen” and “threats are often hidden”.

“We need and should evolve a networked security architecture. Risks are often unforeseen in today’s work. Threats are often hidden. This has made the work of law and order professionals far more challenging than ever before. We need, therefore, to be able to anticipate better,” he said.

According to home ministry figures, the country has witnessed 64 bomb blasts in less than six months this year, which left more than 215 dead and over 900 injured.

“In a period of 100 days, the task force should come out with a road map regarding the detailed steps to be taken immediately, as also the subsequent steps to be taken over the next several months so as to translate this vision of an integrated neo-centric capability into reality,” Manmohan Singh said.

Restoring the people’s faith was also a major challenge before the police force, the prime minister said and exhorted police officers to avoid stereotypes that might enlarge “fault lines in our society”.

Stressing that the police must become more professional, fair and improve its image among people, he said: “A major challenge before the police will be restoring the faith of the people - specially those belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the weaker sections - in the impartiality and effectiveness of the police.”

Manmohan Singh referred to no particular case but many questions have been raised of the police role in several high-profile terror investigations.

These cases include the Sep 19 shootout in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar where two suspected terrorists and a policeman were killed, the reported torture of 21 Muslim youth in Hyderabad who were picked up as terror suspects by the police, and the arrest of two Kashmiri youth in the capital who were branded as Al-Badr terrorists but actually turned out to be police informers.

“It is important that you have a proper understanding of the complex forces that are at work today in our country. You will need to avoid stereotypes that might wittingly, or unwittingly, enlarge the fault lines in our society,” he said.

“You must introspect deeply why this is happening. An adverse image of the police undermines its efficiency.”

Referring to the globalisation of terror that has made terrorism an all-encompassing danger, the prime minister said police forces should anticipate that the scale of such terrorist incidents would only grow in the future and become a major test of our capabilities.

“You must, therefore, be prepared for such an eventuality.”

In addition to new-age terror, which he dwelt on extensively, Manmohan Singh also mentioned the new danger posed by the spread of fundamentalist and extremist forces but made no direct mention of the sectarian riots that have rocked Orissa, Karnataka, Assam and Mahrashtra in the last few months.

“The virus of communal violence that threatens the secular fabric of our society needs to be checked and checked effectively in time, otherwise our multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-caste society could well unravel.

“This cannot be done by the police and law and order agencies alone, but the police are often the first responders and have, hence, a critical role to play.”

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