PM rethinks J&K strategy

PM rethinks J&K strategy

Centre will revisit crowd control measures in the Valley, says Singh

PM rethinks J&K strategy

Addressing the annual conference of states’ directors-general and inspectors-general of police, organised under the auspices of the Intelligence Bureau, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the public order dimension in Kashmir had become a “cause for serious concern”. Kashmir was among several other internal security issues, including the government’s response to the Maoist insurgency, that figured in Singh’s speech.

The Kashmir issue also figured in the Lok Sabha where the BJP and the Left parties attacked the government for its inept handling of the recent turbulence. The two Opposition parties, however, differed on the question of granting autonomy to the border state.

While the BJP criticised the prime minister’s recent statement that the Centre was prepared to consider the autonomy demand if a consensus could be evolved across the country’s political spectrum, the Left parties favoured a political and economic package, including “broadening the framework of autonomy within the Constitution”.

 At the DGPs’ conference, however, the prime minister skirted the issue of autonomy, focusing instead on the “need to revisit standard operating procedures and crowd control measures to deal with public agitations with non-lethal, yet effective and more focused measures”. Changes in the security forces’ standard operating procedures were tried earlier when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed assumed chief ministership with the Congress support in 2002. At that time, the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had tried to win the people over by its “hearts and minds approach”.

Singh’s speech at the conference reflected the government’s cluelessness on dealing with a new type of people’s agitation for which, he said, there “cannot be an one-size-fits-all” approach. “I understand that instead of a single standard sequence for the use of force, other countries have put in place procedures that vary according to the specific needs in different situations”.

The prime minister said the experience begun successfully by the Rapid Action Force “for non-lethal crowd control” needed to be examined for being followed by other police forces as well. He hoped these aspects would engage the attention of police establishments and sought the Union Home Ministry’s help to establish a high-power task force to suggest a set of recommendations on these issues in the next two to three months.

Naxal challenge
Singh said after a relative lull in 2009, challenges to internal security seem to have re-emerged in more virulent forms. Referring to Naxalism, he said more efforts were needed to meet the challenge, particularly training of officers and policemen involved in counter-insurgency operations.

“We recognise that the Naxalites are our own people and are ready to talk to them provided they abjure the path of violence”, Singh said.
While pointing out that the situation in the North-East in general was better today than it was in the recent past, the prime minister reminded the country’s police top brass that the situation in the Darjeeling Hills area needed careful watch.
DH News Service 

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