New Government Must Prioritise the Internal Security Agenda
A new government has been installed in Delhi. There are great expectations. People of the country were just fed up with the lethargy, inefficiency and corruption of UPA II, and were yearning for a change.
The internal security situation of the country has become very fragile and would have to be given high priority by the new dispensation. It is proposed to suggest here such measures as the Government of India should take to contain the threats to internal security.
Terrorism, trans-national and domestic, poses a very formidable threat. The terrorists are opposed to the very idea of India and they want to destroy the country politically, economically and culturally. Government of India must come out with a clear policy on how the terrorist threat is to be dealt with. The policy will have to have components dealing with terrorists across the border, terrorists within the country, organisations harbouring and sheltering or supporting them (SIMI and Indian Mujahideen, for example), areas where the terrorist fish find it easy to swim, source of weapons and explosives, and how each of these aspects would be dealt with. The anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, would need to be given more teeth. MCOCA was extended by the UPA grudgingly to some states; it may be extended all over the country through a central legislation to curb the activities of organised criminal gangs.
The security of Pakistan border would need to be reviewed. There is a serious apprehension that with the gradual withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, some Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba elements may be diverted to India. They must be dealt with at the borders and not allowed to enter the hinterland.
Maoist problem is another major threat on the internal security front. Here also, the government must come up with a long-term strategic plan to deal with the insurgency. It will have to be a whole of government approach. To start with, the Maoists should be invited for unconditional peace talks and these negotiations should be held not with any interlocutors but with the CPI(Maoist) politburo/central committee members. If there is an agreement, well and good, but the chances are that the Maoists would come up with impossible and unreasonable demands. If that happens, government will have to embark on well-orchestrated operations to neutralise the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army. There cannot be a state within a state or two parallel armies within a country. The paramilitary forces are unfortunately not operating to their full potential. They will have to be asked to deliver. The bureaucracy must also play its role and establish the administrative infrastructure in areas cleared by the security forces. A proper surrender and rehabilitation policy must go hand in hand. There will have to be all-out efforts to win the hearts and minds of people in the
In Jammu and Kashmir, we have to remember that the people of Jammu and Ladakh constitute half the state’s population and 88 per cent of its total area, and these people are totally opposed to the politics of autonomy, self-rule or separation. It is high time that the state is gradually integrated with the rest of India. The separatist elements have been given too long a rope so far—so much so that criminal cases against them have been held in abeyance and their money laundering activities ignored. The rule of law should be enforced and the Hurriyat leaders cut to size.
In the Northeast, three things would need to be done immediately: accountability in the utilisation of development funds, strict enforcement of the rules of suspension of operations, which are violated by the rebel groups with impunity, and pushing the peace talks to a finale. Manipur has had a step-motherly treatment so far. It must get a fair deal and protected against frequent blockades by the Naga insurgent group.
The criminal justice system would have to be revamped and, in particular, the police would need to be reorganised and restructured in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court.
The working of National Security Council and the National Security Advisory Board would also need to be reviewed so as to make them functionally contribute to national security.