Struggle against terror long and hard: Chidambaram (Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) The struggle against terrorism will be “long and hard” but the nation will eventually triumph, Home Minister P. Chidambaram declared here Tuesday.”The struggle will be long and hard, but eventually, we will triumph in eliminating the scourge of terrorism,” Chidambaram said at a press conference after an almost eight-hour conference of chief ministers on internal security.

The home minister will be chairing a half-day meeting with the chief ministers of Maoist-infested states and would individually visit all the northeastern states for a focused study of their security concerns.

Chidambaram also said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) law could be revisited in parliament, if the need arises, after several state chief ministers expressed reservations over it at the conclave.

“I told the chief ministers that the NIA law was unanimously passed in parliament by MPs belonging to their states. I now plan to write to the chief ministers explaining the true scope of the NIA,” the home minister said.

The letter will clarify whatever doubts they have. If any still remain, they can write back to me. I have already said the NIA law can be revisited in parliament, if necessary, in February,” Chidambaram added.

Several chief ministers belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) expressed apprehensions about the functioning of the newly constituted NIA and the amendments brought in the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The NIA came into being Jan 1 with President Pratibha Patil giving her assent to a bill to create an exclusive agency tasked to probe terror crimes.

Chidambaram also noted that NIA “is not a substantive law”, like the CrPC, the Indian Penal Code or the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.

“NIA is meant to investigate terror crimes and prosecute the offenders,” the home minister added.

Detailing the steps initiated after the Nov 26-29 Mumbai terror attacks, Chidambaram said the carnage had “jolted” the states and “a lot of work had been put in” to strengthen the intelligence gathering and sharing mechanism.

“Work is in progress and we will come up with an action plan,” the minister said.

According to Chidambaram, “many states” had now recognised the need for creating a dedicated cadre in their police forces for intelligence gathering.

As an immediate measure, identity cards would be issued to all residents of the border states, while all fishing boats and fishermen would also be registered.

He also asked the states to conduct a security audit of iconic buildings, religious places, strategic establishments and key industries to ensure that they were provided with adequate security cover.

In this context, he pointed out that the cabinet had approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) act to enable it extend its services to private sector establishments on payment.

This apart, Maharashtra also proposed to create a state industrial security force, the minister said.

Addressing the conclave Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held the Pakistan government complicit in the Mumbai terror attack, saying there was “enough evidence to show” that Pakistani official agencies had supported the terror strike on Nov 26 in which “10 Pakistani terrorists… came by sea from Karachi”.

He also said Pakistan was an example of a “fragile” and “irresponsible” government that had “utilised” terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India.

This is the first time the prime minister has explicitly singled out Pakistan’s role in the Nov 26-29 attack and detailed how it continued to harbour terror groups that were antagonistic to India.

Manmohan Singh also announced the setting up of a permanent Crisis Management Group to handle the fall-out of major terrorist attacks in the country.

“I recently had the occasion to mention in Parliament that the time has come for us to establish a permanent Crisis Management Group to handle the fall-out of major terrorist attacks anywhere in the country. This is now being established,” he said.

In his address, Chidambaram exhorted the chief ministers to raise the level of preparedness to counter sophisticated terror attacks as well as enhance the speed and decisiveness of response mechanisms.

“Thirty-six days into this office, I am more convinced than ever before that we have to set for ourselves two goals,” he maintained.

Pointing out that the Mumbai terror attack was the tipping point, Chidambaram, who has already introduced a raft of measures to hone national security, said the key to raising the level of preparedness was gathering and sharing intelligence.

“Fear saps the energy of the nation. The security of the people ranks above other considerations. Liberty and equality have meaning only if there is security,” he said.

“One of the first tasks that I undertook was to re-establish and empower the Multi Agency Centre (MAC). Beginning Jan 1, the MAC has begun to function on a 24×7 basis and is now legally obliged to share intelligence with all other agencies,” Chidambaram pointed out.

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