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Excerpts of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh intervention in Lok Sabha during discussion on the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai

New Delhi
December 11, 2008

“As I rise, I am acutely conscious of the fact that acts of terror are on the increase and we have lost lives of many citizens in these dastardly acts. I am conscious that our systems and procedures need review. On behalf of the Government, I would like to apologise to our people for the fact that these dastardly acts could not be prevented. 

As far as Mumbai is concerned, it was a very calculated and sinister attack, intended to cause widespread terror and damage to the image of India. The forces behind these attacks wanted to destabilize our secular polity, create communal discord and undermine our country’s economic and social progress. 

Each one of us has condemned this horrible incident and also extended our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and sympathies to those who have suffered injuries. We have all saluted the courage and patriotism of the Police and security forces, including the special forces, like the NSG and the Naval Commandos. This nation is proud of them. I also note with great sorrow the number of foreign nationals who have been victims of this onslaught. I have personally spoken and written to leaders of countries apologizing for the loss of their nationals. 

Nothing that we can say or do will compensate for the lives that have been lost. But it is important to ensure that the memory of their sacrifice does not get dimmed with the passage of time. Parliament must resolutely reinforce our nation’s determination to defeat terrorism and destroy it root and branch. The scourge of terrorism has to be, and will be, fought with determination. All means and measures needed for this purpose will be utilized. 

Our immediate priority is to restore a sense of security to the people of India. We will not countenance a situation in which the safety and security of our citizens are violated with impunity by terrorists or other militant forces. 

I believe that we have to work at three levels. Firstly, we have to galvanize the international community into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan. The infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled permanently. This is for the good of the entire world community, including the well being of the people of Pakistan themselves. 

Several Heads of State and Government have spoken to me in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Each one of them praised India for demonstrating restraint. They agreed that strong action should be taken against those responsible for these acts. I conveyed to them that we could not be satisfied with mere assurances. The political will of the international community must be translated into concrete and sustained action on the ground. It is time for the international community to squarely confront the challenge of terrorism. The use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is no longer acceptable. There should be no double standards in the global fight against terrorism. There are no good or bad terrorists. There is no cause that justifies the massacre and killing of innocent people. 

We need effective steps not only to bring those responsible for the Mumbai attacks to justice, but also to ensure that such acts of terrorism do not recur. 

I am happy that the United Nations has taken the step today to put sanctions on four individuals of the LeT, including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and on the front organizations under which the LeT was operating such as the Jamaat-ud-Daawa. This is the kind of purposeful action that we believe should be pursued in a sustained manner by the world community to ensure that the entire infrastructure of terror is dismantled. 

Secondly, we have taken up strongly with the Government of Pakistan the use of their territory for launching an attack of this kind and the need for the strongest possible action against the perpetrators of such ghastly acts. The world community must be convinced that action by Pakistan against the brutal perpetrators of these crimes against humanity will be effective and will be sustained over time. 

We have so far acted with utmost restraint. But let not our commitment to civilized norms be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. Every perpetrator, organizer and supporter of terror, whatever his affiliation or religion or location, must pay the price for such cowardly and horrific acts against our people. We have noted the reported steps that have been taken by Pakistan. But clearly much more needs to be done and the actions should be pursued to their logical conclusion. 

Thirdly, we need to recognize as a nation that we cannot depend on either of these two approaches for obtaining the outcomes that we desire. The Mumbai incident has highlighted gaps in our preparedness to deal with these kinds of assaults. We need to equip ourselves more effectively to deal with this unprecedented threat and challenge to our country's integrity and unity. 

The Home Minister has already outlined a number of steps that are being taken. The Administrative Reforms Commission report has taken a comprehensive look at the problem of terrorism and the course of action that the Commission has indicated is under the active examination of the Government. 

The need for stronger measures to protect our coastline has been highlighted before, but the progress on ground in this regard has obviously been tardy and too slow. We are strengthening maritime security against asymmetric threats from the sea. Since there are currently multiple agencies tasked with coastal security, it has been decided that the sole responsibility of guarding the coastline would be entrusted to the Coast Guard. The Indian Navy would provide the necessary back-up support to the Coast Guard for this purpose. This would come into effect immediately. Special security and protective arrangements are being put in place for all major ports. Similar steps have been initiated for guarding sensitive installations in the vicinity of our shore line. 

Arrangements for securing our air space taking into account conventional as well as non-conventional threats have been streamlined. Real time monitoring of aircraft movement jointly by the Air Force and the civil authorities has begun. Air defence measures to prevent intrusion of rogue / unidentified aircraft are in place. 

The attacks highlighted the need to be able to act in response to such incidents with much greater speed. We have worked out a mechanism for a comprehensive crisis management response. It has already been decided that the National Security Guard should be decentralized and dispersed and should be located in major metropolitan areas. At the same time, arrangements must be put in place such that rapid response units can reach other locations without loss of time. Till such time as the strength of the NSG is increased, and new units are trained, the Special Forces available with the Army, the Air Force and the Navy and other civilian agencies will be used. Commando units would be created by each State. 

We have already decided to strengthen the legal framework to deal with terror and also to set up a national investigation agency. As promised by the Home Minister these Bills would be brought to the House at the earliest. 

As has been indicated, mechanisms have already been put in place to provide more timely intelligence to pre-empt future terrorist attacks. Daily meetings at the level of the Home Minister are being taken. The Multi Agency Centre of the Intelligence Bureau will be concentrating exclusively on collecting, collating and disseminating information relating to terrorist threats. Integration and coordination among the various intelligence agencies is being improved. The States have been requested to energize intelligence collection at the district level to produce more actionable intelligence. 

While we will be taking a number of short-term and long-term measures, there is a general consensus that the long-term strengthening of our security will only take place by strengthening the police establishment, particularly at the local level. We are committed to police modernization and will spare no effort and no resource to undertake this task within a definite timeframe. We must provide our security forces with the modern and sophisticated equipment they require to tackle the increasing sophistication of terrorist crimes. The morale of our security forces is of utmost concern and importance and if there are any deficiencies these will be made good. The country needs a modern and efficient police force to deal with the twin challenges of security and development in this day and in this age. 

The terrorist attacks in India have tried to sow communal divide in the country and weaken our polity and our social fabric. We have emerged stronger with every challenge, and will do so again. I have no doubt that the Mumbai attacks will also fail in their nefarious designs. All political parties have an obligation to unite against communal hatred and discord. We cannot fight and win this war against terrorism if we are a divided house. 

In conclusion, I wish to say that it is in times of adversity that the true mettle of a nation is tested. We must remain calm and be resolute. We should stand firm as one nation and one people to meet this challenge posed by terrorism. We will give a fitting rebuff to our enemies. The idea of India as a functioning democracy and a pluralistic society is at stake. This is a time for national unity and I seek your cooperation. Truth and righteousness are on our side and together we shall prevail.”