January 17, 2004
New Delhi

PM's speech at the Conference on Internal Security

“I am pleased to be here with you this morning. The meeting of Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police on internal security has become a regular annual event. It provides an opportunity to all Central and State Government officers responsible for maintaining internal security to sit together for taking stock of the existing as well as new threats to internal security and initiating necessary steps to strengthen it.

I had an opportunity of interacting with a few Chief Secretaries personally a short while ago. I was happy to learn that your conference has had fruitful discussions on a number of issues that impinge upon India’s internal security.

For many years, terrorism has been the biggest threat to the internal security situation in the country. It is true that the violence profile in Jammu & Kashmir and in the North Eastern region has shown signs of improvement. Nevertheless, the twin bomb blasts in Mumbai in August last year did revive the memories of the 1993 serial bomb blasts caused by the underworld mafia in collaboration with anti-India forces abroad. These anti-India forces continue to pursue their nefarious agenda of ‘Intelligence Encirclement’ of India.

Our internal security apparatus has to maintain a high state of vigilance. We need to strengthen our policing across the country, particularly in vulnerable and border areas.

We are all well aware that India’s internal security is often impacted by certain factors in our regional environment. Accordingly, one of the principal objectives of our foreign policy has been to address these factors. It is a matter of much satisfaction that a new era of cooperation amongst South Asian countries has begun with the 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad early this month.

We thank His Majesty the King of Bhutan and his Government for their firm action recently to dismantle the terrorist camps on Bhutan’s soil. This is a praiseworthy example of both good-neighbourliness and security self-interest. We hope that others will emulate this example.

As you are aware, India and Pakistan have taken some confidence building measures recently. They have led to an understanding between us about the way forward towards relations of peace, in which security and stability can be enhanced. We hope that the commitments undertaken will be implemented sincerely and that we can move forward to focus on development and growth, rather than be caught in suspicion and hostility.

Terrorism remains a serious threat to the civilized world order. India has intensified its diplomatic efforts to strengthen international unity and cooperation to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

In recent months, certain initiatives taken in the North East have produced the desired results. The elections to the Mizoram legislative assembly passed off peacefully without any major untoward incident. My recent visit to Nagaland reinforced my conviction that there is a strong yearning among all sections of the people for a lasting peace and accelerated development. There is a need to consolidate these gains and redouble our multi-pronged efforts to achieve further progress in the region.

Organised crime in some parts of the country has attained serious dimensions. The circulation of fake Indian currency notes, some of which are intended to fund the terrorist activities, seriously threatens the integrity of our financial system.

Friends, the entire country is outraged by the outbreak of the fake stamp paper scam in many States. An ordinary law-abiding citizen is baffled and pained by the fact that this massive scandal went on for so long involving so many people at various levels, including possibly some in the law enforcing agencies.

The fake stamp paper scandal has highlighted another important issue. Its simultaneous spread to several States has necessitated proactive inter-agency coordination, particularly in gathering and sharing criminal intelligence among States. The creation of a comprehensive database on terrorists, militants and underworld elements and also coordination amongst different police forces both at the Central and State levels are of paramount importance to fight such organized crimes. I also suggest an open debate on the desirability of a federal law for dealing with federal crimes, without in any way infringing on the powers of State Governments.

I am told that the provision of housing for police personnel, especially at the lower levels, is highly inadequate in many States. This is not only demotivating, but also lowers their prestige in the eyes of the public.

Recently, the Government has unveiled a major housing programme for the defence personnel. I would like the Home Ministry, in consultation with State Governments, to prepare a programme for large-scale housing for police and paramilitary forces, with the aim of doubling the satisfaction level within the next 3-4 years.

Crimes against weaker sections of society, particularly women, children and people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, are a blot. The mechanisms for monitoring and controlling of such crimes need to be constantly reviewed and strengthened.

One of the fundamental reasons for the ills of insurgency, extremism and crimes affecting internal security is the lack of good governance, especially at the cutting-edge level. Success in combating these problems is directly related to responsive, sensitive and transparent administration. Good governance forms the bedrock of any strategy to counter these maladies. An administration that provides basic services, maintains law and order, is free of corruption, in which the citizen reposes trust and faith, will be in a better position to tackle these problems. There is a need for effective mechanisms for redressal of public grievances and for providing good governance, particularly in areas which are backward or prone to terrorism. I would like Chief Secretaries to regularly monitor the performance of their administrative machineries from the point of good governance for improved internal security.

The system of administration of criminal justice is another important component of the management of internal security. The present system is very dilatory and expensive. It does not act as an effective deterrent to the criminals. The trials are lengthy and there is a huge pendency of cases in the courts. Topmost priority must be given for setting up Fast Track Courts and making them functional.

The report of the Malimath Committee on Reforming Criminal Justice System was circulated to all State Governments seeking their comments on the recommendations of the Committee. State Governments need to convey their comments most expeditiously so that action to implement the decisions may be initiated without further delay.

India is vulnerable to various natural disasters. Till recently, the focus was on post-disaster response and relief. No significant measures were taken for prevention and mitigation of disasters. This resulted in loss of thousands of lives in major disasters besides enormous loss of property. Developmental gains achieved over decades are wiped out by one single major disaster in the areas affected by the disaster. There can be no sustainable development without taking measures for disaster mitigation.

The Government has now brought about a paradigm shift in policy and our focus is now on prevention, mitigation and preparedness. A National Disaster Management Framework has been formulated and sent to all State Governments. A National policy on Disaster Management is being finalized. This is another area that calls for a common policy approach and close cooperation between the Centre and the States. Friends, though internal security situation in the country has improved in recent months, it does not leave any scope for complacency. The Centre and the State Governments have to continue to make concerted and coordinated efforts to meet the emerging challenges and threats to internal security. We must together ensure a more secure and peaceful environment in the country to enable India’s speedy march towards all-round progress and prosperity.

Thank you.”