Terrorism, communalism major challenges: PM

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New Delhi, Aug 15 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today appealed to all sections to help the Government douse the incendiary flames in Jammu and Kashmir-- raging for the past several weeks over the Amarnath land transfer issue-- as he outlined ''terrorism, extremism, communalism and fundamentalism'' as major challenges to the country's unity and integrity.

''The (Amarnath) shrine is a shining example of our secular tradition, where Hindu pilgrims have been looked after for years by their Muslim brothers,'' Dr Singh said in his 45-minute speech from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the 62nd Independence Day.

''Dividing people in the name of religion can complicate the issues (relating to Amarnath shrine) which can pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the country,'' he said and called upon the people and political parties to help the Government in establishing peace in the State through dialogue Referring to the challenges posed by communalism, extremism, and terrorism, he said ''politics of consensus, not confrontation'' was required to overcome them. ''(These) cannot be won by a nation divided.'' The Prime Minister also sent out a strong message to Pakistan that the peace initiatives between the two countries would come to naught if the issue of terrorism was not addressed.

''The terrorists and those who support them are enemies of the people of India and Pakistan, of friendship between the two countries ad of peace in the region and the world. We must defeat them,'' he said.

Denouncing last month's terror attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, he said it had cast a shadow over the efforts to normalise relations with Pakistan and to bring a lasting and honourable peace in the region.

He also condemned the recent terror strikes in Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, and urged all State governments, political parties, civil society groups, and social and religious leaders to come together to root out terrorism.

''We will examine the functioning of our intelligence agencies and police and security forces and take all possible steps to tackle this challenge,'' he said.

The Prime Minister, who has come under attack over soaring prices, said his government was taking ''determined measures'' to bring inflation under ''reasonable control''.

Without mentioning the controversial India-US nuclear deal, he said nuclear agreement India was negotiating with developed countries would end the country's nuclear isolation.

''It will enable us to provide electricity to meet the needs of our farmers, our artisans, our traders and our industry,'' he said, emphasising that it was necessary for the 10 per cent growth of the economy.

In an apparent reference to the Singur violence and the recent farmers's agitation in Noida over the land issue, he said: ''If industrial development has any adverse impact on some of our rural folk, we will ensure that there is reasonable compensation and proper rehabilitation.'' ''A new Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy has been formulated and we will seek Parliament's approval for it.'' Apprehensive that climate change could disrupt the economy in several ways, he said a national consensus should be to evolved on effective policies to deal with the issue.

With General elections due in eight months, the Prime Minister used the occasion to highlight the achievements of his Government in the past four-and-a-half years.

In this context, he specifically mentioned the Rs 71,000 crore waiver to the farmers, the increase in bank credit for the agricultural sector from Rs 81,000 crore to Rs 225,000 crore, and the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations modified to give higher emoluments to more than five million Government employees, including defence personnel.

He said India hoped to send its first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I, this year, which would be an important milestone in the development of the country's space programme.

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