India PM: Center, States Must Unite Against Terror

Mumbai students march for peace and condemn recent terror attacks in the city, India, July 20, 2011.
Mumbai students march for peace and condemn recent terror attacks in the city, India, July 20, 2011.
Kurt Achin

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to reassure chief ministers of India's states Monday he is on their side in securing the country's internal security.

Hosting a high-level meeting in the capital, Singh tried to allay regional concerns that a new anti-terror initiative represents a power grab by the central government.

"Threats from terrorism, left-wing extremism, religious fundamentalism and ethnic violence persist in our country," he said, calling threats from Maoist rebels one of the country's most serious ongoing security challenges. "These challenges demand constant vigilance on our part. They need to be tackled firmly, but with sensitivity. It is an endeavor that requires the united effort of us all, both at the center and in the states."

Singh said the so-called Maoist insurgency now affects nine states. Rebels have said they are fighting what they call severe inequalities in land acquisition and natural wealth distribution.

Federal-State Balance Questioned
The annual conference of chief ministers comes at a time when parliament faces heavy criticism from state governments and even political allies. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a coalition partner of Singh's who has expressed concern over a proposed National Counterterrorism Center, saying it will disturb the federal-state balance of authority, is staying away from the meeting.

But Singh called the central government an ally, not an opponent, of states on internal security issues.

"State governments are the primary responders in most internal security situations," he said. "I would urge the states and the Ministry of Home Affairs to carry forward police reform and modernization to their logical conclusion."

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, perhaps the most outspoken advocate of the National Counterterrorism Center, warns that insurgents are becoming better armed and more sophisticated, and must be combatted on a national scale.

“The target is the Indian state and, naturally, every constituent of the Indian state," said Chidambaram. "In its offensive, the adversary does not recognize state borders; at the operational level, there is no conflict between central agencies and state police forces."

Narendra Modi, chief minister of India's Gujarat state and widely seen as a possible future prime minister, accused the government of acting "unilaterally" and not consulting states sufficiently on security issues.

The central government is scheduled to hold a separate meeting with chief ministers on the proposed counter-terror center early next month.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs