Terror groups likely to cause disturbance in Lok Sabha, Assembly polls: Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday warned that there are possibilities of terror groups causing disturbances during the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly polls while addressing the country`s top police officials and asked them to remain alert.

New Delhi: There is likelihood of terror outfits seeking to disrupt forthcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday, while urging security forces to remain "scrupulously bipartisan" in dealing with terror cases to maintain people`s faith in a secular polity.

Addressing the annual conference of Directors General of Police (DGPs) here, the Prime Minister also advocated the need for an institutional mechanism to ensure safety of women.

Expressing deep concern over the substantial increase in incidents of communal violence in some states, he said state governments need to act with utmost firmness. He also called for solutions to prevent misuse of social media.

"Resurgence of terrorist groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Toiba, and increased infiltration attempts call for heightened vigil and coordination by our security forces. There is also likelihood of attempts to disrupt the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections," he said.

The Prime Minister stressed that security forces need to be careful and measured in their response to militant attacks and law and order disturbances.

Referring to terror attacks in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bodh Gaya and Patna, he said Indian hinterland remains an active area of operation for terror outfits while urging the skills of intelligence platforms should be constantly improved.

"However, while dealing with terror cases, care needs to be taken that security forces remain scrupulously bipartisan so that our people do not lose faith in the professionalism of investigative agencies and the secular nature of our polity," he added.

The Prime Minister said some states have witnessed a substantial increase in the number of communal incidents and added that major communal clash in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh last September took a large toll of lives.

"This is most worrisome. We simply cannot allow such a state of affairs to continue. Our law and order agencies must ensure that trivial or local issues are not exploited by vested interests to incite communal passions.”

"And once disturbances occur, they must be tackled with the utmost firmness and speed, without prejudice, fear or favour," the Prime Minister said, adding the states have the responsibility to ensure firm handling of communal situations.

"I expect all state DGPs to discharge this responsibility fully," he said.

Referring to the tragic rape and murder of a girl in Delhi last December, he said the incident had brought into sharp focus the issue of women`s safety and the rising expectations of the people from police in preventing such crimes.

"We have recently enacted several laws providing stringent punishment for such crimes and more sensitive treatment of victims during investigation and trial. We also need to put in place other institutional mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of women and children," he said.

The Prime Minister said he expected the police chiefs to show leadership in putting in this endeavour.

His comments come amid media focus in the alleged sexual assault on a woman colleague by Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal.

Referring to the misuse of social media to fan violence during Muzaffarnagar riots, the prime minister said there was a need to find creative solutions which do not unreasonably curb the freedom of expression.

Pointing to "declining trend" of Maoist violence over the last few years, he stressed that operations against the rebels "should not in any way affect or disturb the livelihood patterns of local people".

Intelligence Bureau chief Asif Ibrahim, who spoke earlier, suggested that foreign content providers on the internet be brought within the ambit of Indian laws. He also pitched for more funds as police forces enable good governance.

The Prime Minister also released a postage stamp to mark 125 years of Intelligence Bureau and gave away the president`s police medals for distinguished service.