New Delhi, Feb.19 (ANI): Candidly admitting that the nation is facing a difficult period on many issues, especially on ones relating to national security, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday said it is time to come out of a "state of denial" to make the task of dealing with threats like terrorism, Naxalism and insurgency easier.
Interacting with the Women's Press Corps in the capital, Chidambaram said: "It is a difficult period on many issues. We have been in a state of denial. This makes my task more difficult, but there is a general silver lining."
"I feel encouraged in doing my job, as the people's consciousness has been aroused. They are asking questions and this will help," he added.
Stating that there were no halfway measures to dealing with threats to national security, the Home Minister said: "For 14 months after Mumbai, it was a terror-free period. But, let me tell you, terror never went away."
He said there were two reasons for the lull in terror - (1) Intelligent slew think and (2) Luck, but added that terrorism could not be thwarted by luck alone.
"But you cannot thwart terrorism (by luck alone) as one saw in Pune," he said referring to last Saturday's bomb blast at the German Bakery that claimed nine lives.
"After 26/11, there was peace in India for one year. The Pune attack is a blot and a soft target. We had information, provided inputs, and beefed up security on hard targets, but attackers slipped through and chose a soft target. It cannot be termed as an intelligence failure," Chidambaram said.
"We need to do a lot more. We have to start a media campaign as we did in the past to make people aware and more vigilant. Every country is vulnerable and we have to be more alert in future to avoid similar attacks," he added.
The Home Minister said that a National Intelligence Grid (NIG) and a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) would come up by December 31, 2010 in order to strengthen the intelligence sharing and analyzing mechanism in the country.
He also said the 26/11 attack on Mumbai should not be seen as a declaration of war on India.
He said: "No purpose will be served by declaring 26/11 as a war on India and, I would say, it is a colourful word. 26/11 was a dastardly attack on India to which the nation responded with anger and anguish."
When asked what was the state of progress on getting terror suspect David Headley extradited to India for interrogation for his role in providing inputs to Pakistan-based terror groups ahead of the 26/11 attack, Chidambaram said: " We are cooperating with the US. They have given us vital information and we will go though the legal process."
In the course of revealing the steps that the government was taking to counter the terrorist and naxal menace, the Home Minister highlighted the fact of there being a shortage of security personnel. For instance, he said, that there was a need for 30,000 constabulary, there were 35,000 vacancies in the Indian Police Service, the equipment was poor, and the training facilities were less than satisfactory.
"This is accumulated neglect over 20 years. We can't change that in two years," said Chidambaram. (ANI)