Chidambaram confident of India's capacity to deal with terror

New Delhi, Feb 11 (ANI): Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said that India's capacity to deal with terror is better today than what it was two years ago owing to the recruitment of more police personnel and improvement in intelligence gathering.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Chidambaram said he has shored up security forces since the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, handed him the reins of the Home Ministry after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

"We have recruited more policemen, we have substantially augmented our capacity to train them, we have equipped them better. Our intelligence gathering has improved considerably in order to be able to deal with challenges of terror," said Chidambaram.

After taking over as the Home Minister, Chidambaram also launched an unprecedented crackdown on the Maoists, taking the fight to them in dense jungles.

The Maoist militants are fighting against what they see as the corporate exploitation of mineral-rich land that belongs to tribal populations.

The insurgency has gained momentum in recent years, and the leftist rebels control swaths of several states in India's heartland.

Chidambaram said the Government is trying to step up efforts to win over local populations with development programmes.

The Government recently began disbursing a package of about 330 million dollars to 60-Maoist affected districts, where it can be used to build schools, hospitals and other development projects.

"These three officers have been given full freedom to do what needs to be done after consulting the village. That will avoid the kind of frustrating bureaucratic delays that can occur when New Delhi assigns special committees to draw up "fancy schemes" for poverty-alleviation programs. "I think half the time nothing gets done," he said.

The Home Minister further said the move against Maoists is making progress, though he acknowledges a 'stalemate' with militants in some regions, including the central state of Chhattisgarh, where an ambush last year killed 76 government security personnel.

"Resolving underlying tensions with Maoists requires balancing the interests of landowners with those of businesses," he said.

Without directly hinting at the Environment Ministry and all those against mining, Chidambaram said: "Ultimately, the minerals are only of value if you mine them. If they continue to remain in Mother Earth for another million years, it benefits nobody." (ANI)

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