Our world is confronted by the threat of terrorism

“Political leaders in a democratic society would like to be as close to people as possible. They dislike being cordoned off by a ring of impenetrable security. To protect leaders in a democracy and at the same time ensure that they are accessible to the general public, requires considerable skill.”

Dr. Manmohan Singh

(March 31, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) “It is a great pleasure for me to be in your midst once again. I sincerely compliment you for your thorough professionalism, your competence and dedication to work. The SPG has completed yet another year of highly satisfying service, notwithstanding the difficult and trying conditions under which you have to work. On this happy occasion I, my wife and our family extend our warm felicitations to all officers of SPG and to their families.

I am delighted to greet all the officers and personnel who have won medals and trophies in recognition of their meritorious and distinguished services and for their excellence in different professional fields.

We are all aware of the tragic circumstances under which the SPG came into being. These very circumstances highlighted the necessity of setting up a dedicated and specialised Protection Unit. It was also around that time that the scourge of terrorism appeared. SPG was, therefore, set up as a committed, disciplined and highly trained outfit, comprising handpicked officers, assigned the exclusive responsibility of providing discreet, yet effective and foolproof security to the highest political office of the country.

Today, after 23 years, SPG has developed and evolved into a formidable force, displaying a high degree of professionalism and the most outstanding level of commitment to its responsibilities. It is indeed a matter of pride that India has such a committed and well-trained force, a force that is second to none in the world, for the security of the highest political leadership.

I would like to compliment you for the most interesting demonstration that we witnessed a little while ago. The adoption of ‘Proximate Use of Force’ by SPG is indicative of SPG’s quest to equip itself with the most appropriate techniques to face the challenges that lie ahead. I am happy to learn that SPG is thinking of setting up a new Counter Sniper Unit. This is indicative of forward thinking that we associate with the SPG.

I am also happy to note that the SPG proposes to build capabilities in the field of ‘Bomb Disposal’ and is making a determined bid to equip itself to deal with threats from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear agents. I assure you that our Government will ensure that SPG gets all that it requires to upgrade the skills of its personnel and the organisation.

A close and personal association with the SPG is an inevitable part of my present position. I have over the last four years been observing the SPG from very close quarters. As you know, protectees rarely relish being protected, but in all honesty I have come to value our association greatly. My admiration for what you are doing has only grown over time.

Political leaders in a democratic society would like to be as close to people as possible. They dislike being cordoned off by a ring of impenetrable security. To protect leaders in a democracy and at the same time ensure that they are accessible to the general public, requires considerable skill. A protective security organisation like SPG has, therefore, no alternative, but to act as an interface between the people and the political leaders while ensuring the security of the political leaders. This, I realise, is a task that requires considerable tact and is not an easy task.

Your procedures and practice of handling the public must continue to evolve along with your professional skills. I am aware that sometimes you face criticism on this count. While I am conscious that a lot is being done to minimise the inconvenience levels faced by the ordinary citizen, I am sure that a lot more can be done to further professionalise and improve matters. Innovative lateral thinking along with an independent approach is perhaps the way ahead. I am confident that the SPG, as part of its culture of excellence, would endeavour to produce even better results in this sphere in future.

Our world is confronted by the threat of terrorism, sometimes from non-State actors. The number of important dignitaries at risk from terrorist threats has increased and is a source of great concern for governments around the world. We have to work with the international community to devise measures that combat this menace, particularly in democratic countries that are open societies and where people enjoy freedom of movement. As I have said before, terrorism anywhere is a threat to freedom and democracy everywhere.

I reiterate our Government’s firm commitment to deal with such threats to peace and security, to political stability and economic progress, to social and communal harmony in our country. Whatever the source of terrorism, we are determined to root it out and ensure that in a democracy political change can only come through the ballot box and not through the barrel of a gun.

I wish to once again place on record my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the selfless service being rendered by SPG. I am confident that the SPG would continue its quest for excellence. I wish all members of the SPG family every success in their endeavours.”

( The Prime Minister of India , Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the 23rd Raising Day of SPG in New Delhi today. Published above is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech)
- Sri Lanka Guardian