New Delhi: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Saturday expressed concern over the use of social media as a threat to national security.
Addressing 47th Conference of the DGPs, IGs of Police of States/UTs, Heads of Central Armed Police Forces and Central Police Organisations at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, the PM said: “The use of bulk SMSes and social media to aggravate the communal situation is a new challenge that the recent disturbances have thrown before us.”
He further underlined the need to “fully understand how these new media are used by miscreants”, adding: “We also need to devise strategies to counter the propaganda that is carried out by these new means.”
The PM also emphasised to carefully weigh any measure to control the use of such media against the need for the freedom to express and communicate. He further hoped that police forces would be able to “work out effective strategies to deal with these tendencies”.
Lauding the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in India as a source of strength and vitality to the country, the PM said that an increase in communal incidents in the country in the past few months and “the revival of ethnic tensions in the North East in recent weeks have been particular causes of concern to all of us”.
“The ethnic disturbances of the North East assumed a national dimension with the flight of people belonging to the North East from various towns of South and Western India. This further strained the communal situation in the country, which was already showing some signs of deterioration, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.”
Addressing top police officers of the country, the PM said erosion in inter-community relations should be worrisome. He also stated that the capacity of the administrative set-up as well as of police administration to check such decline seems to have weakened.
“There is, therefore, a case for re-orienting our police forces to effectively track the sentiments of the people and inter-community tensions as they rise. Advance identification of potential trouble makers, timely use of preventive sections of the law, alongside seeking cooperation of the community for maintaining peace should be the first instruments to be deployed, well before the situation deteriorates.”
He further hoped that policemen would pay attention to the fact that the role of a vigilant and effective beat constable can be vital in detecting communal tensions.
Dr Manmohan Singh also expressed concerns over national security, saying that terror groups would try to use sea route to come into the country.
Addressing the top cops, the PM underlined that infiltration attempts along Line of Control and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir are on the rise.
He, however, lauded the collaborative efforts of Police and Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir which have led to a significant decline in the number of operating terrorists.
“Improvement in the security environment resulted in a successful Amarnath Yatra this year and in a record number of tourists visiting the state. The State has also successfully conducted the Panchayat elections and is now poised to take up the responsibility of conducting elections to the Urban Local Bodies.”
On Left-wing extremism
The PM also talked about the ability of Left-wing extremists to gradually increase their numbers, enhance their `military potential`, and entrench themselves in some areas of the seven affected States in India, saying it should be a cause of worry.
“The State police forces on their part must ensure that Left-wing extremists that are apprehended are prosecuted quickly and effectively. The Left-wing extremists affected States also need to improve the police-population ratio, strengthen police infrastructure and equip their police forces with better weapons, better communication systems and better training.”
On other issues
The PM urged police leaders to dedicate themselves to planned technological upgradation of their forces. He also acknowledged that India’s vulnerability to cyber crime is escalating “as our economy and critical infrastructure become increasingly reliant on interdependent computer networks and the Internet”.
“The Government is working on a robust cyber security structure that addresses threat management and mitigation, assurance and certification, specially building capacity and enhancing research.”
On increasing violence against women and the elderly growing in the metropolitan cities, the PM stressed that “policing the metropolitan areas, especially controlling the organised crime and protecting the vulnerable in these areas requires the focused attention of our police forces”.
Bi-annual conferences of DGPs and IGPs have been held since 1950. Annual conferences started to be held since 1973. The Indian Police force is more than 150 years old and the Police Act was enacted on March 22, 1861.