Calling two recent terror attacks – blasts in Mumbai and Delhi — “blots” on his government’s record, Union home minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said the challenge of terrorism was a formidable challenge that required a comprehensive strategy of counter terrorism.
He also said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were epicentres of terror and most of the terror group based in the neighbouring country continued to target India.
Addressing top cops of the country at a conference, Chidamaram said: “The two terrorist attacks in the space of two months are indeed blots on our record. Naturally, the Central government and the security forces have been severely criticised. While we accept the responsibility for the incidents and the legitimate criticism, it is our duty to set out the context in which such terrorist attacks take place.”
Stating that no country in the world appears to be entirely immune to the threat of terror, he said: “In 2011, up to August, there have been 279 major terrorist incidents in 22 countries. The worst affected are Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicentre of terror is Afghanistan-Pakistan. Four out of five major terrorist groups are based in Pakistan and three of them – LeT, JeM and HM – continue to target India”.
He also admitted that there was no let up in attempts to infiltrate from across the line of control in Jammu & Kashmir. Besides, there are attempts to infiltrate terrorists via Nepal and Bangladesh into India as well as find a safe transit route from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, he added.
The home minister also spoke about Indian modules, saying they seem to have the capacity to attract radicalised youth to their fold. “Some modules are loosely knit under an organisation called Indian Mujahideen. Many old cadres of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India have morphed into IM cadres. There are other Indian modules that espouse the cause of right wing religious fundamentalism or separatism. Many of these modules have acquired the capacity to make bombs,” he said.
Asking police chief to build capacity to deal with several threats, the home minister said: “We do not have just one pre-eminent threat; we have several. We must build the capacity to deal with these multiple threats. Capacity building is work in progress. It requires time, money, human resources, technology and harnessing the capacity of every agency and organisation in the country”.
Citing United States example, Chidambaram mentioned that following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States identified the al-Qaida as its pre-eminent security threat and declared war on al-Qaida and its affiliates and adherents. Over a period of 10 years, the US created the Department of Homeland Security; brought together 22 agencies and bodies under that department; fought two wars; and sent its agents and troops into other countries. 6,000 soldiers died; 137,000 civilians lost their lives and 7.8 millions became refugees. The cost was USD 4 trillion. And in a document put out in June 2011 the US admitted that the job is not yet done. During the last 10 years, there were three terrorist attacks on US soil (with 16 dead and 34 injured) and three nearly successful terrorist attempts that providentially failed.
The home minister in his speech gave details of what India has done in the last over two years in terms of capacity building but said: “Yet, we have not done enough. There are still over 5,00,000 vacancies in State police forces. After the cadre review, the authorised strength of the IPS was increased to 4,720. On January 1, 2011, there were 3,393 officers in position and it will take seven years to reach the optimum level. Not all states have enacted the new Police Act nor set up the State Police Establishment Board. Not all states have adopted the transparent recruitment process”.
Admitting that money is a big constraint, he said: “While the expenditure on internal security by the ministry of home affairs has increased from Rs 25,302 crore in 2008-09 to a budgeted amount of Rs.40,834 crore in 2011-12, all the States and UTs put together have provided to their police forces only Rs.61,024 crore in 2011-12. Thus, we will spend Rs.101,858 crore this year on policing the whole country. This figure must be compared with Rs.164,415 crore that has been budgeted for the Defence services. It is obvious that the Centre and States must provide more money to their police forces”.