The 50th annual Directors General of Police (DGPs) conference took place this weekend, from 18th – 20th December, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance. The conference was held this year in Kutch, a district of Gujarat state. Before his role as Prime Minister, Modi served as Chief Officer of Gujarat for 13 years, and he was born and raised in Gujarat, even receiving his degree in political science from Gujarat University, so the state is dear to his heart and it must have pleased him to return there for this event, especially with it being the first time he has returned to the Rann of Kutch since his appointment as Prime Minister.

Modi also attended the previous conference in November 2014, which took place in Guwahati, Assam and was the first of these conferences to move outside of New Delhi. The conference discussed, amongst other things, methods to tackle the threat posed by ISIS after an ISIS terrorist had just been arrested in Mumbai, and not long after the Burdwan blast in Kolkata. Concerns were held over terrorist groups such as ISIS radicalising the youth of India and drawing them into such groups. In his address, Modi called for a “SMART” police force, an acronym with each letter corresponding to the following principles:

S – Strict but also S – Sensitive

M – Modern and there should be Mobility

A – Alert and Accountable

R – Reliable and Responsive

T – Techno savvy and Trained

This year’s conference was attended by more than 250 DGPs, plus Inspectors General of Police (IGPs), heads of National Investigation Agency (NIA), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB). The Kutch conference focused on a number of hot topics including security related matters, terrorism , cyber security, women’s safety and disaster management. Presentations and various other interactions were taking place over the majority of the day, discussing various aspects of policing. Modi displayed his investment in these concerns, issues and solutions by not only attending the presentations and meetings, but also asking pertinent questions and initiating discussions.

The threat of ISIS was again a concern at the heart of this conference, especially as their activity has escalated over the second half of 2015. As ISIS activity has been witnessed within India, discussions were held over how to manage the spread of this organisation and prevent them from getting a foothold in India and its neighbouring countries. Fears over Indian Muslims being drawn into the terrorist group and how to tackle this situation were addressed. Their main worry is over the radicalisation of Indian youths, particularly via online channels such as social media where they may be exposed to propaganda messages from the extremist group. Matters of cyber security were debated in order to tackle these fears. Officials at the conference concluded that the best way to handle cases of people joining ISIS in India is to take a soft approach.

Terrorism is, of course, taken seriously by all officials present at the conference, illustrated by the four hour long session about the terror situation in India, both past and present, examining and deliberating over all terror strikes that have occurred in India over the last ten years.

Security at the conference itself was also a concern, understandably so with so many police officials, government officials, as well as Modi himself and other key figures. The Prime Minister was provided with his own bulletproof tent at the conference, called the Darbar, to protect him from any potential acts of violence. Possible risks were thought to come from holding the conference so close to the India-Pakistan border, and so the area was declared as a no-fly zone, and anti-aircraft guns were placed around the perimeter of the city as a secondary measure. Of course, all of these measures were merely put in place as a precaution, and the event was completed without any threat of attack.

It wasn’t all work, however, as Modi started the second day of the conference by leading a yoga session at the crack of dawn for the delegates of the conference plus eight yoga instructors from the Art of Living foundation who were invited specially for this session. Modi, along with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Junior Minister Kiren Rijiju, then took a walk to see the sunrise after completing the yoga session. Modi practices yoga daily, so it is an important activity and ritual for him, part of his spiritualism as it is a practice that promotes peace and harmony, and is commonly practiced amongst Hindus. Earlier in 2015, on the first ever International Yoga Day, Modi even lead a mass yoga session in the Indian capital, Delhi, which thousands of people took part in.

Prime Minister Modi is dedicated to the protection of his country and keeping its people safe and secure from both minor and major threats. The gathering of police and government officials at this annual DGP conference continues to make progress towards combating terrorism and other security threats within India.