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PM Maoist snub to Patil
- Singh to personally monitor internal security threat

New Delhi, Dec. 18: The Prime Minister will personally monitor the Maoist and terrorist threats because he is unhappy with the home ministry’s performance, government sources said.

Manmohan Singh reportedly plans to sit through the seven-hour chief ministers’ conference on December 20 ó a thing he has never done before ó to discuss internal security issues directly with the participants.

Singh has also asked cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to put off a scheduled Northeast trip and “visit the Maoist-affected states, inspect the ground situation and report to him”, a senior official said.

The chief ministers’ meeting comes during a week the Maoists have carried out a stunning jailbreak in Chhattisgarh and turned swathes of Patna’s Beur jail into a “liberated zone” for an entire morning and afternoon.

Singh had a couple of years ago described the Maoists as “the biggest threat to internal security”.

The sources said Singh was “completely dissatisfied” with the home ministry’s handling of issues such as Naxalite violence and the Northeast insurgency. The rise in terror attacks in the hinterland, such as in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, has been another concern.

The Prime Minister today chaired a meeting attended by home minister Shivraj Patil, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and the cabinet secretary.

“The PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) has been keeping home ministry officials on their toes,” a bureaucrat said.

“Most ministry officials have been burning the midnight oil, preparing for the chief ministers’ conference and answering queries posed by the PMO. Narayanan, too, had a meeting with the home minister and home secretary Madhukar Gupta.”

It was at the PMO’s bidding that the home ministry had decided to seek a report from the Maoist-hit states about development projects undertaken in the 33 worst-affected districts.

“However, since the Prime Minister has decided to attend (Thursday’s) meeting, he would be interacting with the chief ministers personally, receiving their views and listening to their plans and problems,” the official said.

When the last such conference was held on September 5 last year, the Prime Minister did not attend it from beginning to end.

Thursday’s conference will discuss the Maoists, the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism in the non-border states and communal violence.

“The PMO is also keen to discuss the (regular) demand for central forces by the statesÖ. The PMO is not in favour of sending central forces for every law-and-order problem. The state police have to be equipped and modernised,” the official said.

The Centre wants the states to fill up police vacancies and strengthen their special and intelligence branches. Sources said Delhi would also encourage the states to hire private security agencies when necessary.

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