“At the outset, I congratulate NIA and all its personnel for organising R.V. Raju Memorial lecture as part of NIA day celebrations. Late R. V. Raju was the first DG of this premier counter-terrorism investigation agency.
The national security environment in India is determined by its geographical attributes, socio-economic milieu as well as by regional and global developments.
India is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of area, second most populous country, the third largest economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and one of the oldest civilizations with unparalleled cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity. India shares its land boundaries with six countries while it shares its maritime boundaries with seven countries. It is in this context that we should understand the national security challenges that India faces in the 21st Century.
The national security challenges can be broadly categorised as internal challenges and external challenges, both of which are closely and intricately intertwined.
The internal challenges include the growing radicalization in our society, separatist movements, insurgencies, communalism and Maoist violence.
We have centuries old rich cultural ethos that is rooted in strong democratic principles, which eschews violence in all its forms. However, there are certain misguided elements, who continue to use violence as an instrument to achieve political goals. No matter what the grievances are of disgruntled people or sections of people, there are ways and means to resolve all issues lawfully and peacefully within our constitutional scheme.
Having said that, I would like to point out that of immediate concern to all of us on the internal security front is the growing radicalization in our society. This has roots in a distorted view of religion and ethnic identity.
We have witnessed this phenomenon in the unending spiral of violence in different parts of our country including the Kashmir valley, in the insurgent movements in the north-eastern region and the Left Wing Extremism affected areas in the hinterland. The efforts made by the government have helped to contain the situation in Kashmir. There also has been a significant decline in the incidents of violence by Maoists and the north-east is largely peaceful. The historic peace treaty with the Naga rebels NSCN-IM was one of the successful initiatives and shows how long-festering political issues can be resolved peacefully to the advantage of all.
Friends, as you know India is now the fastest growing major economy in the world. India needs to grow faster to provide basic means of livelihood and decent opportunities to all its citizens. The need of the hour is to ensure that India remains peaceful so that the process of all round development continues unhindered. We must be eternally vigilant against forces which are inimical to India and want to derail the country’s onward march.
In this century wars are not fought in the battlefield alone; they are fought on all fronts including the economic front. Economic warfare is one of the most potent tools to undermine the peace and security of a nation and damage caused by it is immense.
With regard to the external threats faced by the country, our neighbourhood remains the biggest challenge for our national security. The cross-border terrorism through both state and non-state actors has claimed thousands of innocent lives over the last three decades. One of our neighbouring countries continues to aid and abet acts of terrorism in India and for a long time has been trying to damage the monetary stability and economic security of India, through the production, smuggling and circulation of counterfeit Indian currency notes.
The National Investigation Agency, in its investigations in the Pathankot, Uri and Handwara terrorist attack cases and in a number of counterfeit Indian currency notes cases has conclusively proved the role of the neighbouring country in orchestrating the attacks and producing and circulating the counterfeit currency. I congratulate the NIA for its thorough and professional investigation, which has exposed the machinations of various terrorist groups.
The dynamics of international terrorism have changed with certain groups using cyber communication to spread their ideology. This has led to a completely new era in terrorism world over, the phenomena of Foreign Terrorist Fighters or the FTF and Lone Wolf Attacks taking place in many parts of the world like never before.
The attacks in France, Belgium, UK and in Bangladesh to name a few made us realise that in the age of internet or cyber communication, national boundaries are no barriers for terrorists to propagate, recruit, plan and carry out attacks anywhere and at any place. I am told that the NIA has registered and investigated cases in which a number intricate conspiracies hatched in cyberspace were busted and a number of potential terrorists, both within and beyond India, were arrested.
The cyber revolution while bringing immense benefits has also created certain vulnerabilities and risks. The cyberspace transcends national boundaries. Hence, it is extremely difficult to exercise effective jurisdictional control over the same.
The proliferation of internet-based social media platforms and communication tools by terrorist outfits for planning and execution of terrorist incidents has further exacerbated the situation.
With Internet Service Providers operating trans-nationally across multiple jurisdictions, the only effective way to tackle globally active terrorist individuals and outfits is through international cooperation. This can be done by developing uniform standards and norms for Internet Service Providers and technology companies and with nation states facilitating information sharing to fight against terrorism. Surveillance, intelligence gathering and adequate pre-emptive and preventive measures by security agencies at a global level are required.
The United Nations has from time to time adopted various resolutions to combat global terrorism in all its formats. However, despite being members of the UN some member states continue to flout these resolutions by nurturing and providing support to terrorist organisations. It is time for the global community to take note of the situation and act against such errant member states.
No terrorist organization can function without finances. Terrorist finance is the oxygen on which terrorist activities thrive. Painstaking investigation in the past, in India and other countries, has provided useful breakthroughs and resulted into disruption of terrorist cells.
The recent investigations by the NIA in tracing and tracking the funding of the separatist groups and leaders have successfully disrupted the supply of funds to the separatist groups. This has led to a significant decrease in the incidents of terrorism as well as decline in the subversive activities being carried out by the separatists. I hope that the NIA would continue to focus on all the aspects of financing of terrorism and effectively disrupt the channels and networks of funding to the terrorist organizations.
Today, global terrorism is the biggest threat as internationally active terrorist groups aspire to destroy the democratic world order by using all forms of violence. These terrorist groups do not believe in equality and justice and would adopt all means propagate, advance and impose their ideologies, which are antithetical to democratic values.
Considering the various dimensions of terrorism in India and the world as it exists today, it is extremely important to build capacities, impart training, upgrade skills and provide technological expertise to security forces and law enforcement agencies. Positive engagement with our foreign partners is necessary when it comes to fighting the scourge of global terrorism. Terrorists round the world are collaborating and adopting technology to carry out their nefarious activities surreptitiously. Therefore, it is incumbent upon law enforcement agencies and security agencies all over the world to collaborate with each other to defeat international terrorism.
For decades, India has fought the scourge of terrorism with fortitude and firm resolve. The success of India and its security forces in bringing peace to the states of North-East, Punjab, containing the situation in Kashmir and parts of the hinterland affected with Left Wing Extremism, speaks volumes of the deft handling of the situation by our security forces and agencies. We have made numerous sacrifices in our fight against terrorism and we will continue with steely determination to take on all forces inimical toward the security and integrity of India. As the largest democracy in the world, it is our duty to support the international community and collaborate with friendly countries to fight the menace of terrorism.
Lastly, a robust and strong legal framework against terrorism enforced by institutions with all the required infrastructure and human resources is a sine qua non for providing a befitting response to terrorism. Recognizing the same, the domestic legal framework against terrorism in India has been strengthened from time to time.
The government is in the process of making further amendments to the ant-terror laws to empower law enforcement agencies to not only ensure effective investigation in terrorism cases but also have fruitful prosecution to meet the ends of justice.
At the end, I once again congratulate the officers and personnel of the NIA on the occasion of NIA Day and hope that they will continue their good work and achieve greater success, in their endeavor to unearth terrorist conspiracies, apprehend the guilty, who are responsible for death and destruction, and bring them to justice and ensure peace and prosperity in the country.