Combating Maoists and Terrorists

 By H.K. Dua

H K Dua (Nominated): Mr Deputy Chairman, Sir, I thank you for restoring order in the House and now we can resume the debate.

Last week the Home Ministry was being discussed in the House. The Department of Disaster Management is a part of the functions of the Home Ministry and as such the House was discussing natural calamities.  I think, there was a general consensus that most of the natural calamities are man-made.  Indeed, we have to be careful about environment.. (interruptions).. But today I would like to focus attention equally, possibly on a more serious situation which is on the agenda of the Home Ministry that is about the internal situation, and issues like our preparedness to fight threat from terrorism.  They are also man-made and equally daunting challenges. The internal security situation and our preparation for fighting terrorism, both call for serious consideration, and also our preparations to meet unforeseen challenges.  As we find over the years, terrorism has really been troubling us, and retarding our orderly progress. The most sophisticated weapon the terrorists have is: Surprise. Against most of the attacks by terrorists, we have been found wanting.  The terrorist groups have always surprised us.  They strike at the places of their choice. They strike at the time of their choosing. And often we do not know what is going to happen.

Let us see what happened in November 2008.  The terrorists came by rubber boats. Nobody could have thought, they would have come by rubber boats, land at Badhwr Park and then fan out and create havoc in Mumbai.  I do not want to go into the grisly details of that day.  But as a nation we were just not prepared for it. The responses, at that time by different agencies were ad hoc.  There was a Coast Guard failure.  There was a local police failure.  There was not even a beat constable at Badhwar Park who could have asked the people who were coming out of the rubber boats: “Where have you come from? What are you going to do there?” That is a fishermen’s village, not very far from Colaba, main arterial road of Mumbai. Then, response by various agencies was initially somewhat improvised and inadequate. The local police, the Naval authorities, Coast Guard authorities, the National Security Guard, at that time, I am just giving an example, were off guard.  The National Security Guard was to be flown in from outside. The planes were in Chandigarh.  The National Security Guard campus was at Manesar near Gurgaon. The planes had to come and the people who came from Manesar were flown to Mumbai. We lost a lot of time. But they fought brave battles; There is no doubt about it. There was lack of coordination however, between different authorities. Every day five or six news briefings were given to newsmen and the media which again was creating confusion.  Often conflicting versions were given. We lost over 160 people in the  26/11 terrorist attack. One can cite instances when everyone was surprised. The lack of vigil has cost us a great deal during the last few years.

So far as the internal security situation is concerned, it continues to be very bad.  I particularly refer to what is happening in Central India. They are questioning the very idea of the State – the very idea of India they are questioning. They want to have a State of their own.

H.K. Dua (contd): They want to  have a State of their own. While China has given up Mao, the Maoists in our country want to follow the Maoist philosophy and establish the so-called liberated zones.  We have not found, over the years, as a nation, answer to this serious problem.  Broadly, two strategies have been followed, and basically they are correct.  The question is of implementation.  One,  the socio-economic development of tribal areas and, two, the law and order problem where the Centre and the States have got to cooperate.  The Central Government cannot fight and the State Governments also cannot fight either terrorism or the Maoist threat in central India alone. The Centre and the States have to work together. Tribal development has not been taking place at a speed at which it should have taken place.  On the contrary, alienation of Tribals is the root cause of the problem, is becoming more serious by the day, and there is no real progress happening on this front.  One reason is, the law and order situation is bad, development authorities cannot work there and no progress can be achieved.  There is another problem about Tribal welfare.  In each State where Tribals are there, they are supposed to have a StateTribal Council.  There has to be a National Tribal Council also. It was decided in 2010 that the Prime Minister should preside over the National Tribal Council. State Tribal Councils have to be presided over by the Governor, under the Constitution.  Under the Constitution, the Governor  has been given a special responsibility to preside over the State Tribal Council every year and monitor what is being done or not done on the ground for the Tribal welfare and tribal area’s development. I am sorry to report to this House that over the years, all the Governors have abdicated that authority and the State Chief Ministers presided overstate Tribal Councils. Once you give it to the State Chief Minister, the function of presiding over the Tribal Development Council, (a) it is against the section 5 of the Constitution, and (b) it gets subjected to various lobbies who have interest in tribal land and the development of Tribal areas on different lines. The Tribals have no say in the development of the tribal areas in most States because the Governors have given up their authority and responsibility. I would suggest that the Home Minister should particularly look into this aspect that the Governors should exercise their powers under Section 5 of the Constitution, which the Governors have been given for tribal development areas.

On both — fighting Maoists as well as terrorism — you need to have more intensive coordination and consultation between the Centre and the States. The Central Government wanted to set up a National Centre for Combating Terrorism (NCTC). Some States refused to cooperate with the Centre and they invoked their right that they alone have the authority for law and order.  Sir, law and order is certainly a State subject. But when terrorists strike any part of the country it is no longer necessarily the State subject. No State can fight terrorism on its own. To expect Maharashtra alone to fight a terrorist threat like the 26/11 in 2008, frankly speaking, is too much. It would be a very inadequate response. The Centre has a primary duty, the States also have a primary duty and both have to function together.  So a well-meaning suggestion was made to set up a National Centre for Combating Terrorism. That centre has still not come up, nor has a substitute body been created because the States are obstructing. Will the Home Minister, I would like to have a categorical answer on this question, call a meeting of the State Chief Ministers again and set up a Central authority like NCTC? If you require modifications in the old scheme, by all means, it should be improved, if there are some areas where States have to be accommodated. Please do it. But there has to be cooperation between the Centre and the States on fighting the Maoist threat as well as the terrorism threat by setting up this centre or a substitute body…. (Time Bell).. Sir I will take four to five minutes more.

Mr Deputy Chairman:  Just two minutes more. There is one more speaker and I will have to be fair to him as well.

H K Dua:  I will try to wind up. Sir, there are steps to be taken by the Home Minister. Maybe, Chief Ministers have to be called here and there has to be a more intensive consultation. The conflict between the rights of States and the duties of the Centre has to be resolved to tackle threat to the nation – both the Maoist threat and the terrorist threat.

Sir, one area which I would like to emphasise is Police Reforms. The Dharam Vira Commission was appointed way back in 1970, and the Report was submitted in eight volumes. It is one of the world’s most exhaustive inquiry into police system of a large country. But, I am sorry to say, Sir, even after nearly 45 years, this Report has not been implemented.  There have been so many committees and Sub Committees appointed to examine the Report of the Dharam Vra Commission, but the States are reluctant to implement crucial reforms of the Report of the Dharam Vira Commission.

Mr Deputy Chairman: Please conclude now. There is another speaker.

H K Dua: The former Chief of the BSF, Mr Prakash Singh, went to the Supreme Court with a PIL to demand its implementation. The Supreme Court appointed the Soli Sorabjee Committee to examine why States are reluctant to  do this. They gave their recommendations. There are two or three points – I will be very brief. Why the matters are stuck and why some States are not implementing it or are refusing to implement it. One is , Sir, There is a nexus between Chief Ministers and the Directors General of Police of that State.  The moment a new Chief Minister comes, he changes the Director General of Police. There is no fixed  tenure for the Director General of Police. The Director General of Police want to oblige the new Chief Minister, and they in turn would like to have a convenient Police Chief so that he can do their bidding. So, a fixed tenure for the Director General of Police  was suggested. But that is not being accepted. Another key issue is who is to appoint the Director General of Police? A Special Establishment Board was supposed to be set up for this purpose. There are other instances also where police was being given some autonomy…(Time bell).. But it seems I don’t have time to go into that.

The point which I am making is that unless the Home portfolio is handled well, this task will get more complicated; I don’t envy his task. Then, there is social cohesion which is badly needed where the Home Ministry has to keep vigil. Every communal riot, every social tension, will complicate his tasks further and the idea, of an independent and a strong India and its progress, will get slowed down.

(Transcript of Mr H K Dua’s speech during the debate on the working of the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 11, 2014 in the Rajya Sabha.)