New Delhi, Feb 01 (Agencies): Naming leftwing extremism, cross-border terrorism and religious fundamentalism as serious challenges facing the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said there is need for better coordination and response from states to effectively deal with these challenges.

Inaugurating the conference of Chief Ministers' on internal security, Singh said there can be easing up in the government's efforts in the fight against terrorism and communal violence.

"...we all need to be conscious of the fact that serious challenges and threats - primarily from left wing extremism, cross border terrorism, religious fundamentalism and ethnic violence - still persist," he said.

The Prime Minister said as far as the the Maoist challenge was concerned, 2010 saw a decrease over the previous year in the number of incidents and causalities of security forces, though the number of deaths among civilians increased.

"Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand continue to be a cause for concern in view of the level of violence. The problems in Orissa and Maharashtra are also quite serious," he said.

Calling for greater cooperation between Central and State efforts to tackle the problem, he asked the CMs to consider increasing the number of joint operations by state police forces with the assistance of central forces.

Terror & Kashmir

The Prime Minister said there was a sharp fall in the number of terror attacks in India in 2010, except for two incidents in Pune and Varanasi.

"While our people and security agencies deserve credit in these areas, the importance of being constantly vigilant and on our guard cannot be over-emphasised. There can be no let up in our efforts if we are to succeed in our fight against terrorism and communal violence," he said.

Calling unfortunate the death of many young people in J&K during protests and stone pelting incidents in 2010, the Prime Minister said the agitation generated a vicious cycle of violence in the Valley.

"As we meet today, the situation in the Valley has improved following the visit of the all party delegation to the state, the subsequent announcement of the 8-point programme by the government and a number of positive measures jointly initiated by the government of India and and the state government," he said

He also said the 3-member team of interlocutors was also trying to reach out to various sections of the people for starting a dialogue with them.

Referring to stone pelting incidents, Singh said there was a need to work on non-lethal techniques and capabilities within Central and State police organisations to respond to
such forms of public protests and violence.

"I am given to understand that the Ministry of Home Affairs has prepared Standard Operating Procedures to this effect and these will be shared with the state governments during the conference," he said.

Right-wing terror

The Prime Minister also congratulated the National Investigation Agency for unravelling the activities of new terror groups and busting rackets in fake Indian currency notes in different parts of the country.

The NIA is currently probing the activities of saffron organisations and those allegedly involved in the bombing of Samjhauta Express, Ajmer Dargarh, Mecca masjid in Hyderabad and a mosque in Malegaon.

Northeast peace

Referring to northeastern states, the Prime Minister said he has time and again stated that the Constitution is a remarkably flexible instrument, capable of accommodating a diverse range of aspirations.

"What is essential, however, is a genuine desire for peace and a willingness to abjure the path of violence. It is the commitment of our government, that if these two conditions
are satisfied we will respond in full measure in considering the demands of various groups," he said.

There has been gainful engagement with various groups in 2010 and we wish to deepen this process of engagement this year, he said.

Strengthen police

Singh said while the Central and the State intelligence agencies were at work, there was a need to recognise the fact that the best, actionable and prompt intelligence on internal
security often comes from the police stations.

"But people will come forth to give information to the local policeman, only when they see him as a friend. We need to closely examine the functioning of police stations and bring forth changes to make policemen truly people friendly. We need to take three pronged action on community policing, police reforms and informed use of technology respectively to make this happen," he said.

The Prime Minister said the Centre and the states should work together to formulate guidelines for community policing and there was need to learn from global experience in
community policing.

"Bridging the gap of mistrust that exists between the police and community will go a long way in collecting actionable intelligence. This also brings me to the idea of involving the academia and professionals, who are experts in the field of data mining and cyber security, in policing," he said.

Singh said more needed to be done for the refresher training of police personnel and in the reorientation of cutting-edge police officers as they are the ones with whom members of public get in touch with on a daily basis.

"Till such time we cannot upgrade their skills and bring about a change in their behaviour and attitude – an attitude of 'service of the people' – we will not succeed in our efforts to set up a truly people-friendly and professionally competent and very good police force in our states and our country," he said.

Be sensitive

The Prime Minister said there was a need for the police officers to be receptive to the problems faced by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities, women and
elderly citizens.

"It is a shame for all of us that atrocities against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes still continue to exist in our country. It is the duty of our police officers to
ensure that no case of atrocity against these under privileged groups goes unpunished," he said.

Singh said like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, most of the women in the country also do not have a voice, they are often at the receiving end of violence which our society condones and sometimes even allows.

"I would expect the state governments to be alive to the need of protecting our women against violence by doing their very best to ensure punishment to the perpetrators of such violence," he said.

Admitting that the government was aware that many police commissions have made various recommendations on police reforms, the Prime Minister said policing of the society cannot be continued with archaic laws and policing systems.

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