November 25, 2006
PM's speech at Harish Chandra Memorial National Seminar on Terrorism, Law and Development
"I am delighted to be with you this morning. I compliment my friend Shri Narayanasamy for taking this initiative. The theme of your national seminar is of great contemporary importance for the well-being of our people and for the successful struggle of our people against mass poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflicts millions and millions of our citizens. It goes without saying that the development and the rule of law are mutually inter-related and therefore any threat to peace is a stumbling block for sustained development. In this particular context, terrorism, in particular, poses today a serious danger to the economic stability of any civilized society. It subverts the economic and financial environment for growth and deprives ordinary men and women of their basic needs, and even livelihood. It also necessitates enhanced military and security expenditure which under more normal conditions could have been devoted to tackling the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease to which I have made a reference a moment ago.
Today we see many different forms of terrorism. Having large financial and material resources at their disposal, terrorist groups are today able to use modern communication systems and state-of-the-art technology to pursue their agenda. They have become far more sophisticated, better networked and also highly motivated in carrying out their nefarious designs. A matter of extreme concern is also their linkage with organized crime, like drug trafficking, gun running, counterfeit currency, and money-laundering. Terrorism therefore has emerged as one of the most serious threats to international peace as well. Terrorists do not believe in democracy and the Rule of Law. They are against all tenets of a civilized society. Terrorism is essentially the outcome of pursuit extremism and intolerance.
Apart from terrorism, we also face the threat of insurgency and extremism in some parts of our country. Here too, our response has to be clear and purposive. While pursuing development and empowering all sections of our society, we must also ensure that law and order is maintained and strengthened. No cause, real or imaginary, can ever justify pursuit of violence. No democratic Government can tolerate the targeted killing of innocent citizens. While our Government is willing to talk to any disaffected group prepared to abjure violence, it stands firmly committed to enforcing 'zero tolerance to terrorism' within the framework of our existing legal system.
Extremism is not merely a law and order issue. It has deep socio-economic dimensions and roots. Development, or rather the lack of it, often has a critical bearing on it. So does poor governance. Therefore, effective enforcement of laws and good governance are both critical for the prevention and control of extremism and terrorist activities.
To counter terrorism, our government has taken many steps for improving the intelligence collection system and intelligence sharing, for enhancing capabilities, and for better coordination between various security agencies. We also need to use relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to cut off the flow of funds to terrorist groups. We also need to streamline our investigation and prosecution machinery to apprehend culprits involved in acts of terrors. We have to pursue investigation and prosecution of such cases in a professional and scientific manner. At the same time, in our attempts to deal with terrorism the police and security agencies should make every determined effort to ensure that innocent citizens are neither harmed nor subjected to undue harassment. Judiciary at different levels also has a vital role in ensuring that such cases are tried expeditiously and offenders are brought to justice without undue delay. Certain and swift punishment is often effective deterrent to potential wrongdoers.
Terrorists have no religion or faith. They do not belong to any community. No community or religion can and should be blamed for irresponsible and violent acts of a few individuals of that community or religion. Terrorists have to be dealt with as terrorists per se.
I do sincerely believe that people of all communities, faiths, religions and regions want to live a life of peace, security, self-respect and dignity. They well recognize that the future prosperity and well being of our nation and all our citizens lies in maintaining peace and communal harmony in the country. I urge leaders of all communities to ensure that the fringe elements seeking to disrupt our society are identified, isolated and, wherever possible, encouraged to join the national mainstream.
Apart from a strong and sustained police action against anti-national and terrorist elements, civil society also has a major role to play in preventing terrorist activities and in fighting the ideologies of extremism. Constant cooperation from our more enlightened and vigilant citizenry, especially the media, is extremely important in our fight against terrorism. Our aim is to forge a meaningful partnership to successfully meet the challenge posed by terrorism.
I derive great satisfaction from the public reaction to terrorist incidents in the recent past. Our citizens have stood firm and united against attempts to disturb communal harmony. I have unwavering faith in the innate religiosity, secularism and patriotism of all our people. It is my sincere belief that nothing can undermine India's resilience in the maintenance of peace and communal harmony.
I earnestly hope that the deliberations in the seminar will be productive. I hope they help sensitise our judiciary and legal fraternity to the need for efficient, speedy dispensation of justice. This is an important means of fighting terrorism and promoting development. I wish the deliberations all success and I thank Shri Narayanasamy for giving me the opportunity to be with this august gathering".
Printed from the website http://www.pmindia.nic.in