NEW DELHI: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday expressed satisfaction over the improving security scenario in Left-wing extremism-hit states and the northeast region but voiced concern over continuing Pakistan-sponsored terrorist activities “right from Jammu & Kashmir to Punjab and the hinterland”.

Stating that the security situation in J&K continues to be vitiated, Singh told a conference of police chiefs from across the country: “Attempts by militants to infiltrate in large numbers, intermittent attacks by militants and efforts at local recruitment continue. Terror infrastructure in Pakistan and PoK remains in the form of training camps, launching pads and communication control stations. Financing from across for militants and separatists is a cause of concern. The separatists also exploit every possible situation to agitate the people”.

Singh hailed the success of law enforcement agencies in having overcome the first tide of propaganda and mobilisation by Islamic State, thanks to concerted action coordinated by Intelligence Bureau. “Consequently, India witnessed very few incidents of IS inspired violence….Law enforcement agencies have arrested nearly 125 terrorist suspects as against 117 arrested in 2017,” he said adding that “the new phase of IS propaganda emanating from Afghanistan-Pakistan region is…being countered effectively”.

The annual DGPs/IGPs conference is being organised by the Intelligence Bureau at Kevadia in Narmada district of Gujarat. The three-day meeting, being held at the site of largest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, will discuss causes of radicalisation; counter-radicalisation efforts; decline in spread of Left-wing extremism; need for expediting agreements with underground groups in the north-east region; containing Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and the hinterland; ISI’s efforts to fuel propaganda for a Sikh nation; new-age methods used to engender violence; counter-strategy for misinformation on social media; and policy and community relations.

Singh, in his address, said Pakistan continued to abet terrorism and that between January 01, 2017 to November 29, 2018, 17 ISI-backed espionage modules were neutralized in India leading to the arrest of 25 espionage agents including 2 Pakistanis.

He expressed satisfaction at the improvement in situation in LWE-affected areas and the north-east. “We achieved major operational successes in core areas of CPI/Maoist in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha,” he said adding the number of LWE-hit districts had consequently shrunk from 126 to 90.

The minister said there was a 17% decline in total incidents and 38% reduction in the casualties of civilians in the north-east, leading to selective relaxation in AFSPA in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

Directing the security establishment to curb efforts to revive terrorism in Punjab, the minister said such efforts were driven by Pakistan establishment and Sikh extremist elements based across the border, actively supported by other Sikh radical groups based abroad, especially in Europe and America. “Pak-establishment is also seeking to forge an understanding between Sikh extremist groups and Pak-based Islamist outfits as well as Kashmir-centric terrorist groups for targeting Indian interests,” he said.

Stating that there was a 12% fall in communal incidents as compared to the corresponding period of 2017, Singh said that misuse of social media for religious denigration had also declined significantly.

Advocating public-private-partnership to boost cyber security, Singh recalled that industry associations such as Data Security Council of India (DSCI), NASSCOM and cyber forensic labs set up in certain states, were creating awareness and training programmes on cyber crime investigation.

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