New Delhi, Mar 31 (UNI) With the civilian movement against naxalism gaining momentum in some parts of the country, the Centre and the state governments today decided to encourage such local resistance groups in areas effectively dominated by security forces.
Against the context of naxalites increasingly using landmines to reach civilian targets, the meeting decided to recruit, on contract, retired army personnel from the corps of engineers who are experts in the field for imparting training to police personnel in naxal-infested areas.
"We are not looking at using military personnel," Mr Duggal said, adding that "we want to deal with a civilian movement with civilian forces only." He said the proposal to use the services of the retired army personnel had been okayed by the Ministry of Defence. The Director General (Resettlement) of the Ministry of Defence also attended today's meeting.
In the light of a few naxal incidents involving railways, including the 12-hour-long detention of a passenger train in Jharkhand two weeks ago, the meeting decided to adopt a four-point action plan which includes : strengthening of the Railway Protection Force(RPF), special training to the RPF personnel in police training institutes, strengthening intelligence sharing among the railways and civil forces and regular coordination meeting between the state police, RPF and the GRP (state police looking after railway protection).
Mr Duggal said the naxal violence had been by and large under control and was being contained. But it had the potential to grow and spread if continuous effective steps, as enshrined in the policy, was not taken. He said the first three months of the current year recorded lesser number of naxalite incidents as compared to the corresponding period last year, but the intensity of the incidents this year was higher.
He said the meeting expressed concern over the increase in civilian casualties in Chhattisgarh. In Chhattisgarh, naxalites claimed 105 lives during January-March this year as against three in the first quarter of last year. The number of incidents had also gone up in Chhattisgarh with 162 in the first three months as against 97 for the same period last year.
Barring Chhattisgarh, all the other naxal affected states put together recorded lesser number of incidents in the first quarter of this year (229) as against the same period last year (378). All the naxal-infested states, other than Chhattisgarh, claimed 52 civilian toll in the first three months this year as compared to 111 last year. The same was the case with the casualty from the security forces. The quarterly casualty this year is 20 as against 39 last year.
Mr Duggal said the civilian casualty in Chhattisgarh was more mainly because of the Salva Judum movement gaining momentum. "The Jan Jagran movement against Maoists is on low key in Maharashtra and Jharkhand where civilian casualty is less." He said the Salva Judum movement in Chhattisgarh was supported by the Congress Party and also the ruling BJP.
Since the April 6-May 10 yatra of Leader of Opposition L K Advani was to pass through naxal affected areas and that there was definite information regarding some terrorist outfit making plans, the states which were attending the meeting were advised on what action they should take to ensure that the yatra was safe throughout.
Regretting that many naxal affected states still have a huge number of vacancies of post of constables, Mr Duggal all of them have been asked to complete recruitments faster. In this context, he pointed out that Bihar accounted for 17,000 vacancies. However, they were in the process of recruitment.
He said intelligence sharing and action by joint task force among the naxal affected states were moving on well. "In fact, some of the operations of joint task forces were successful," he said.
Asked if the Maoists here were continuing their links with the CPI(Maoists) of Nepal, Mr Duggal said " only limited ideological exchanges are taking place."
Mr Duggal said the states were asked to strengthen and improve ground level policing. He said the meeting felt the need for a comprehensive Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RR) policy by naxal affected states for local people and tribals likely to be displaced by major industrial and irrigation projects.
Mr Duggal said the meeting noted that concerned action is needed in most of the states to speed up and monitor implementation of land reforms.
"Therefore, states were again asked to pay greater attention and priority to ensure speedy and effective implementation of land reforms particularly in the naxal affected areas." He said the Centre would continue to provide all necessary assistance and technical support to the states to enable them to further improve police response against naxalites and their infrastructure and speed up socio-economic development in the naxal affected areas and also bring about greater coordination between the states in this context.
He said the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme for naxal areas has been extended for a further period of five years.