April 10, 2020
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'Two Kinds Of Lapses'

'....the perpetrators of terrorist acts cannot go unpunished. There is a cost and they must realise there will be a cost.. We must have the right to defend ourselves, we have a right to protect ourselves and we will do that. At the same time, we do n

'Two Kinds Of Lapses'
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Concluding remarks by the home minister in Rajya Sabha -- unedited, verbatim

Mr. Chairman, Sir, I wish to thank all the hon. Members who have spoken in this debate since this morning. I also wish to apologise that I was not present for most of the day, as I was required to be present in the Lok Sabha. I believe my colleague was here and I have also looked at the notes of the speeches.

Sir, it is very heartening that all sections of the House have shown great unity of purpose and have offered support to the Government in the measures that Government will take to stamp out terrorism in this country. Sir, as I said in the statement which was made in the morning, the evidence that we have gathered so far unmistakably, unerringly points to the territory of one neighbour, Pakistan. When I say that, it is not in a spirit of acrimony or a sense of revenge, I say that with great pain that despite efforts over the last many years by successive Governments to restore normal law to build good relations with Pakistan, the territory of that country is being used to launch terrorist attacks against India. There have been successive Governments in Pakistan. Some Governments actively supported these terrorists, some sponsored them, some pretended that these terrorists do not exist and the present Government says, 'these are non-State actors'. Sir, non State-actors are not Stateless persons. Non-State actors also belong to a State. Therefore, we hold the Government of Pakistan responsible for the actions of these terrorists even if Pakistan were to describe them as 'non-State actors.' The territory of no country can be made available for launching terrorist actions against any other country. Sir, the United Nations Resolution 1373 is very clear, and every country is obliged to ensure that its territory is not used for terrorist actions against any other country.

There is much to be done. How do we deal with Pakistan? Fortunately, we have been able to build, in the last two weeks, enormous goodwill and support for India in taking up this issue with Pakistan. Many Prime Ministers, Presidents and Foreign Ministers have been in touch with our Prime Minister and our Foreign Minister. Many interlocutors have offered their good offices. I think, Sir, we should allow diplomacy and our friendly interlocutors some space to prevail upon Pakistan to crack down upon these terrorists. There is some information flowing from Pakistan, not entirely credible, but still, there is still some information flowing from Pakistan which says that some people have been put under house arrest and some have been arrested. These have to be verified, but I think the correct course is what the External Affairs Minister said this morning-- to allow space for diplomacy and the interlocutors to prevail upon Pakistan to crack down upon those who are using Pakistani territory. If the Government of Pakistan is genuine in its claim that these are non-State actors, then the Government of Pakistan is all the more free to take action against these non-State actors. Nevertheless, I am clear in my mind that the perpetrators of terrorist acts cannot go unpunished. There is a cost and they must realise there will be a cost. But for the present, I would urge the House to support the Government while it, through diplomatic and other means, makes these efforts to prevail upon the Pakistan Government to crack down upon terrorists.

Sir, there is much to be done here. And, I am glad that there has been no finger pointing or blaming each other. There have been terrorist incidents for many years. The one that happened in Mumbai is, of course, the most heinous one. Since it happened in our watch, when we are in Government, I had no hesitation on my visit to Mumbai, to tell the people of Mumbai, 'I am sorry; I am sorry for what has happened'. We take responsibility and I said, we will strain every nerve to ensure that these incidents don't happen in the future.

There are two kinds of lapses and I am sure, friends who have been in Government know this. One kind of lapse is systemic lapse. Our systems are not good enough. A number of people have pointed out, and I think, quite rightly, whatever the other falls of that administration, after 9/11, there has been no terrorist attack on mainland United States. Why? To the best of my understanding, they have put in place very tough rigorous systems. What is important is, nearly all the people of the United States and nearly all those who visit the United States accept that system. We are sometimes too tolerant, too democratic and too open. I know that if a security officer frisks some of us, we take objection. Why should we take objection? My own experience is, normally I go through because I am a Minister, but there have been occasions when a security officer did not recognise me as one-- and I am happy that there are some who do not recognise me as one-- has frisked me and I have not protested. Why should we protest?

We protest and I have seen this, time and again, in many walks of life. We encourage drivers to jump red lights. In daily life, it is not uncommon for people to talk their way or bribe their way when they are held up for a traffic offence. I think what is important is when we put in place stronger and more rigorous systems, as a people, we must learn to accept it. That is the price we will have to pay if we want a secure country. We have 7500 kilometres of coastline. We have a huge air space. We have got porous borders with Bangladesh and Nepal, and in Rajasthan. Sri Lanka is barely half an hour away by a country boat. The security of this country, while we have entrusted to the security forces, we must also cooperate while systems are put in place. And, when I talk about systems, it is not only security systems; it is the system of Administration also. These are systemic lapses that have taken place. That is the first kind of lapse. My effort, in the last few days, has been to identify and plug these systemic lapses.

The second kind of lapse is worse. The second kind of lapse is: we simply don't take decisions. Sometimes, we are paralysed into indecision. We constantly look over our shoulder; what will the CVC say, what will the C&AG say, what will the CBI say? How do we run a Government? How can anyone run a Government? Our friends there have been in Government. We must take decisions. We make mistakes. But, I think it is much better to take a decision and some of them being mistaken than not to take a decision at all. I assure the House that the decisions will be taken, as long as I preside over the Home Ministry, and I will come back to you and tell you what the decisions are. If one or two decisions turn out to be not very wise decisions, I will accept the responsibility, but decisions must be taken, decisions must be implemented. For example, Shri Jaswant Singh mentions in his book about the Joint Working Group on terrorism promised to him by his friend, Mr. Strobe Talbot, and then, used that. Nothing came out of the JWG. I am sure Mr. Arun Shourie was a Member of the Cabinet at that time and many of the suggestions he made this morning, he must have made in his own Government. What happened to the JWG? The only explanation I can give is that the JWG fell into the same kind of mode that we are accustomed to, that is, the mode of indecision. The time has come to take hard decisions -- I am not saying 'harsh decisions' -- and I have said in my statement that in the next few weeks, the next few months, I will take hard decisions. And, I would expect that all those, who are required to implement those decisions, would implement them faithfully.

Sir, most of what I wanted to say has been said. There are some controversial suggestions, I am told, which my friend, Mr. Arun Shourie, has made. Well, if Arun does not make controversial suggestions, it will be a very insipid speech. I think he claims a right to make the most controversial suggestions in any debate. I have great respect for Mr. Arun Shourie and his patriotism and his love for the country. But, surely, the answer is not an eye for an eye. Mahatma Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind." We must have the right to defend ourselves, we have a right to protect ourselves and we will do that. At the same time, we do not wish ill on the people of Pakistan. We wish them well. We want them to have a Government. They have finally put together some kind of Government. I hope it is a stable Government. We want them to have a democratic Government. But, I take note of Mr. Shourie's suggestions as well as the suggestions made by a number of people - Mr. Sitaram Yechury, Mr. Sharad Yadav, Mr. Manohar Joshi. I take note of these suggestions and I will do my best to see as to how many of these suggestions can be accommodated while we take decisions to strengthen the security system of this country.

Sir, it is past 9 o' clock. Statement is there. The Prime Minister has intervened in the other House. Finally, I just want to leave one thought.

The police forces of this country belong to the same stock to which you and I belong. They are Gujaratis, Marathis, Tamils, Bengalis, Biharis; they come from the same background from which every other Indian comes from. Some of them have their failings. They work long hours, usually 12 to 14 hours. They are housed in the most appalling conditions. I visited the Police Colony to call on a family of a constable who laid down his life. It is an old building, fumbling building; small apartments. They are not very well paid. Certainly, not well equipped. They are not a highly motivated force. Certainly, not all of them are highly motivated and they have their failings. Yet, these are the men who are willing to lay down their lives to save other lives.

M.C. Sharma was one such man, Hemant Karkare was one such man. Unfortunately, there was an attempt to damage the reputation of M.C. Sharma. Equally, there was an attempt to damage the reputation of Hemant Karkare; and, that pain me most. When I called on Hemant Karkare's widow and family, she has a daughter who is married and living in Boston, another daughter is studying in the London School of Economics, and, a son in the 12th standard. Mrs. Karkare is an educated lady. Talking to them, I found that they were deeply shattered by the death of Karkare but they were deeply humiliated that in the days preceding his death, there was an attempt to damage his reputation. My appeal to all Members is that in the four or five months that I will be in the Home Ministry -- there will be a new Government after that -- I have to motivate this force, to lift itself up and secure this country. I have to work with these agencies, I have to work with the CRPF, I have to work with the BSF, I have to work with the State Police. We will try to give them more money, we will certainly give them better uniforms, better bullet-proof jackets, better equipments, better guns. We will try to give them better housing but more than anything, we must give them more respect, better respect. I would urge the people of India and the Members of this House to please support the Government while we try to improve the working conditions and the fighting conditions of our security forces, who alone can secure the territorial integrity and the security of this country. With these words, Sir, I, once again, thank you.

Sir, may I make one statement? Some friends from Assam did make a mention in his debate. This subject listed today was only on the Mumbai terrorist attacks. In the other House, we have agreed to have a separate statement and discussion on Assam. If the Chairman decides, we can have a separate discussion on Assam. Be that as it may, I have already had a long discussion with the Chief Minister of Assam. I intend to visit Assam immediately after the Parliament Session is over, and, I will certainly meet all Members from Assam and look at their grievances.

Sir, with your leave, may I read the Resolution and request the House to adopt it.

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