Indian Government says it has a plan to deal with Maoist violence

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Geneva, Nov.21 (ANI): The Indian Government has said that it has a plan in place to deal with the vexed issue of Maoist violence.

According to sources accompanying the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on his visit to the United States, the plan has a twin objective-restoring law and order on the one hand, and putting in place development-related projects on the other.

While they admit that this simultaneous action is not bereft of problems, the sources say the Centre feels there is subliminal support from civil society to Maoist groups. There is, however, no divergence of opinion on this score in the highest echelons of power in New Delhi.

UPA Chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram are working jointly on this double-pronged plan, the sources said.

In the recent past, Prime Minister Singh has called the Naxalites "The single biggest internal security challenge" before the country, and this year, he went to the extent of saying that India is "losing the battle against Maoist rebels".

While the Naxalites claim to be supported by poorest of the poor in rural India, they have been known to frequently target tribals, the police and government workers in their quest for securing improved land rights and more jobs for neglected agricultural labourers and the poor.

They have been following a strategy of rural rebellion for more than four decades, projecting it as a "people's war against the government."

The rebels claim to operate in 182 districts in about 20 states across India, mainly in Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The Naxal-affected areas stretch from India's border with Nepal in the north and east to Karnataka in the south. Chhattisgarh is regarded as the epicentre of the anti-government rebellion.

Their recent attacks include halting the Rajdhani Express in Midnapore to secure the release of one of their key leaders in West Bengal, Chhatradhar Mahato, a foiled bomb attack on a jail in Sasaram, ambushing and killing 17 policemen in in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, massacre of civilians, including a 12 year old girl and killing 30 policemen in Chhattishgarh.

Home Ministry statistics reveal that between 1996 and 2008, the Naxalites or Maoists have killed 5438 people with the highest number of casualties taking place in 2008 (938) and in 2005 (892).

The gravity of the menace can be judged by remarks made by Union Home Secretary G K Pillai in Bhubaneswar today.

He said the Maoists are using Chinese made arms, but were not enjoying any support from Beijing.

"I state very clearly that it was Chinese arms that were coming in, not support from the Government of China and that had been made absolutely clear, it is not only because from Myanmar, Bangladesh and so on...arms smuggling is one of the largest businesses in the world," Pillai said.

Pillai said the state governments were closely interacting with the Centre to tackle the Maoist menace.

"There is increase in cooperation among state governments, there is increase in sharing of intelligence among the state police forces and as was decided in the last chief ministers" conference, state governments are cooperating with each other to try and see how best operations on the border, both bilateral and trilateral junction, are being carried out," he said. By Smita Prakash(ANI)

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