Acknowledging the “improved” security scenario in North East, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that he favoured a reduction in deployment of central forces in the region. The Union Home minister said it while chairing the meeting of Chief Ministers of the Northeastern states at Guwahati, Assam.
“In the wake of improvement in security scenario, there is a need to review deployment of security forces in the region. At present the deployment is more than it was when the insurgency was at its peak,” Rajnath Singh said addressing the meet.
He also asked the respective chief ministers to conduct an assessment on the requirement of Central Paramilitary forces in their states.
“I would urge all the Hon’ble Chief Ministers to conduct a realistic audit of deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in their states. However, I assure you of our endeavour to help you in the deployment of central forces when actually needed,” he added.
The Union Home minister was accompanied by his deputy MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. Addressing the meet further, he said there had been substantial strengthening of state police forces in the past few years. He also congratulated all the chief ministers on their sustained efforts in improving the security scenario by focusing on development resulting in an “all-time low” level of insurgency in the region.
“Mizoram, Tripura, large parts of Assam and Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh, except its three eastern districts, are almost free of insurgency. There is a strong popular desire for peace in Nagaland and Manipur too,” the Union Home minister said.
However, he admitted that there are still several small residual insurgent groups operating from their safe havens across the border and are engaged in kidnapping for ransom. Talking of few specific instances, he said in Garo Hill district of Meghalaya, some new splinter groups were kidnapping people for ransom or looting businessmen at gunpoint.
“I would like to make it absolutely clear that the central government would not talk to such criminal elements. Such criminal activities must be dealt with firmly…I would like to reiterate and emphasize that we have zero-tolerance policy on insurgency,” he said.
Laying special emphasis on welcoming the youth, who had strayed into insurgency, back in the mainstream, Union Home Minister said, “They are welcome to the mainstream. However, those who have committed heinous crimes and acts of terror will have to face the law and meet the justice”.
The meeting assumes significance in the wake of army ambush in Manipur last month that killed 18 jawans of Dogra regiment and a special counter-insurgency operation by the Indian army on the north-eastern border along Myanmar, in response to the ambush.
(With inputs from the PTI)