Experts call for creation of Adivasi Police, tribal autonomy to deal with Naxal problem

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New Delhi, may 14 (ANI): Former Indian Police Service officers and Naxal experts today strongly criticised the government's strategy in dealing with the Maoist challenges and suggested a development strategy with justice to the poor and tribals through good governance.

Participating in a roundtable on "Meeting the Maoist Challenges: A relook at the current strategy", organised by Observer Research Foundation, experts also suggested providing autonomy to the tribal areas and establishment of an 'Adivasi Police' to deal with the increasing problem.

They said the poor and tribals cannot be blamed for the current situation as every institution of the government has become institutions for exploitations of these people.

Mahendra Kumawat, former Special Secretary, Internal Security of the Home Ministry, suggested setting up a special force with training in jungle warfare to fight the menace. Kumawat, who earlier led the successful Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh, said the government should adopt a multi-pronged strategy with focuses on good governance, development, political measures and security measures.

Dr. D.M. Mitra, another IPS officer, said he differed with the security-centric approach. "Security is not the solution. But Governance is," he said, stressing on the importance of "right and appropriate structure of force" to deal with the menace. He also focused on good governance and right policies which should also take care of the local interests.

Well-known economist and author Mohan Guruswamy, who has worked extensively on the subject, suggested creation of an Adivasi Police force and providing autonomy to tribal areas to tackle the problem.

K. Subramaniam, former IPS officer who had long stints at the Home Ministry, said the ministry is facing an information crisis with lack of reliable information and institutional mechanism for policy formulation.

He said the ministry is depending on IPS officers of state police and Intelligence Bureau officers who have no training and capacity to do such a task which in turn creates biased, prejudiced information.

He criticised the policy of the present Home Minister, who he said, does not talk about much need police reforms, human rights of the people or their exploitation. He blamed lack of government policies for the spread of naxalism. Pointing out that the minister has been able to increase the home ministry budget by Rs. 15,000 crore in the last two years, he asked what the minister is going to do with that?

A senior Environment Ministry official said there is an onslaught of corporates on our rich forests which is benefiting only a small section. He said India is following a wrong development model, vying with China to ape the US. "The forests are being destroyed. India is also being destroyed," he said. He called for a debate on the expenditure-based GDP growth, saying wealth is not created, but only transferred.

Prof. Nandini Sundar from the Delhi School of Economics, who had been working among the tribals, narrated how they had been hounded by the police forces, allowing research work only to police officers. "All our information is one sided nowadays. The government is least interested in solving the problem," she said.

Prof. Sundar said the problem should be addressed by ensuring justice to the poor and tribals by restoring civil administration, providing education and setting up a judicial commission to monitor violence by the state and the Maoists.

Speakers were very critical of the inaction of the central government which has not taken any action even on the report of the committee formed by the Planning Commission. (ANI)

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