New Delhi, Feb.22: With Left-wing extremism continuing to be a significant cause of concern, government today vowed to take on the Maoist challenge and to adopt a policy of zero tolerance against all forms of terror.
It also expressed its readiness for a meaningful relationship with Pakistan if it seriously addresses the threat of terrorism and prevent terror activities against India.
Government’s views on security challenges were contained in the customary address of President Pratibha Patil to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament today in which she also promised to accord "highest importance" to dealing with the issue of rise in food prices and to enact a law to ensure food security.
The address, which also enunciates the government’s plan of action in various areas during the year, contains a proposal to move for early passage of a bill to curb communal violence and the legislation to ensure reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
"Left wing extremists continue to indulge in senseless violence, as in their recent attacks in West Bengal, where a large number of innocent lives have been lost.
"These cowardly acts strengthen our resolve to meet with added vigour the challenge posed by such violence. My government has also given a call to left wing extremists to abjure violence and come for talks," Patil said. In an apparent concession to ally Trinamool Congress, the President’s address said Left-wing extremists continued to indulge in senseless violence as in their recent attacks in West Bengal where a large number of innocent lives have been lost.
On terrorism, Patil said government remains vigilant against all forms of challenges posed by terrorism. "Zero tolerance of terrorist activities is our principled policy. We have to keep constant watch and innovate against global terrorist groups," she said.
The President said the overall internal security, law and order and the communal situation remained largely under control during 2009.
"Infiltration of terrorists from across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up. Even then, the security situation has improved significantly in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the North East, but left wing extremism continues to be a significant cause of concern," she said.
Against the backdrop of Foreign Secretary-level talks later this week, Patil said India was ready to explore meaningful relationship with Pakistan if it seriously addressed the threat of terrorism and took effective steps to prevent terrorist activities against India.
Maintaining that India’s unity and social harmony was best answered to the terrorists and their divisive design, she said government was committed deeply to protecting its social fabric.
Patil said for ensuring communal harmony the government proposes to move for the early passage of the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005 in this session of Parliament.
She also said the government was committed to ensuring early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2008 and sought support from the members for it.
The President also referred to two Constitution amendment bills to provide 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayats and urban local bodies and hoped these can be passed during the session.
On rising food prices, Patil said while the government was able to avert any threat to food security, there has been an "unhappy pressure" on the prices of food grains and food products.
She said higher prices were inevitable given the shortfall in domestic production and prevailing high prices of rice, cereals and edible oil globally.
"They are also, to some extent, a reflection of the implementation of our schemes of inclusive growth and the impact of higher procurement prices to our farmers and the impact of higher public spending on programmes of rural development which have successfully raised incomes in rural areas," she said.
The President said the government continues to accord the highest importance to ensuring relief to the ’aam aadmi’ on food prices.