Manmohan Singh says there is a need for a federal crime agency to fight terror

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Bagdogra (West Bengal), May 17 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said on Saturday there was a need for creating a federal crime agency on lines similar to the FBI in the United States to tackle terrorism and white collar crimes in various parts of the country.

Addressing a news conference here at the end of what he called a very satisfying and successful two-day visit to Bhutan, Dr. Singh said the proposal has failed to see the light of day because of the "reluctance" of states to "surrender" their powers on the subject of law and order.

"There is no doubt that terrorist elements have many objectives, but the primary one appears to be create communal disturbances ... We have to be mindful about these nefarious designs for which a counter-strategy has to be finalised," the Prime Minister said

"There is a case for creating a Federal Agency to tackle terrorist crime, white collar crimes and other forms of crime. So far, the states' are not cooperating. We must keep an open mind," Dr. Singh said, adding that over the past several months, he had had meetings with the chief ministers of all states, and specifically with the chief ministers of Naxalism-hit states and was yet to convince them about creating such an institutionalised mechanism to deal with terrorism, which no civilised community should face.

Singh said the creation of a Federal Crime Agency was the need of the hour as terrorism and several white-collar crimes have inter-state aspects.

He was quick to add that he was not apportioning blame on states, but added that the matter had to be looked into.

Singh said terror incidents should not become an issue of politicking and parties should put their minds together to see how the problem can be addressed.

Referring specifically to the serial blasts in Rajasthan capital Jaipur, which had claimed over 65 lives and caused injury to over 200, he avoided laying the blame wholly at the doorstep of the country's intelligence agencies, saying: "terrorists can surprise us" and that is the "reality".

When asked whether he had view on the way the investigations into the incident were taking place, Dr. Singh said: "I have no comment to make on the investigations in the Jaipur blasts. It is best left to the investigating officer to do the job. We will, however, look at all possibilities."

As far as the nation's intelligence network was concerned, the Prime Minister said: "There are new challenges for the intelligence outfits. Terrorism is coming up in new forms. They (the terrorists) can surprise us. A balanced view of the situation must be taken to counter the threat effectively."

Asked about the letter written to him by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seeking a conference with Chief Ministers to discuss the issue of terrorism, Singh said he had already had several such meetings on internal security, the recent one being on Naxalism.

"It is not a matter that should divide political parties. Congress, BJP all have obligation on their part to tackle the issue. We have to put our heads together," the Prime Minister said.

In the aftermath of Jaipur blasts, BJP has accused the government of being soft on terrorism.

He said no one talks about the role that intelligence apparatus plays when attacks are prevented but such questions are raised only when such incidents happen.

"I would not say that the intelligence apparatus has weakened," Singh maintained.

Referring to the prevailing situation in the northeast, he said that region needed greater attention, and his government had introduced a new northeast policy to fulfil this objective, but the acceleration of insurgent activity can and has affected the region's developmental activity

"Insurgent groups should not be encouraged. We must maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the northeast so that development can be achieved.

When asked about the evolving political situation in Nepal, and whether India is adopting a cautious approach in dealing with the Maoists, who have secured a simple majority in the April 10 Constituent Assembly polls, Dr. Singh said: "They (the Maoists) have assured us of new beginning, and their desire to make a success of democracy. I have not given up hope. Whatever influence we (India) have, we will ensure a resolution of the problem."

He was referring to the Maoist-led violence of the previous twelve years in Nepal.

He accepted that there is a systemic problem and that terrorism is a multi-state problem.

"We have to upgrade the quality of our law enforcement agencies. States' can do more. The sanctioned police force in some states' is not enough. If improved, things could change," he said. By Ashok Dixit

ANI

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