New Delhi, July 17 (ANI): The Central and State Governments have received a fresh 'mandate' to fight the Naxal menace, if one was necessary, on July 14 at the conference convened by the Prime Minister of the affected States to consider a coordinated approach.
It was decided to create unified commands, headed by the chief ministers of the respective states to direct the forces fighting Maoists. It was also decided to appoint a major general-level officer, serving or retired, as an advisor for conducting the operations.
Recent events have underlined the need to strengthen the police administration at the local level to enable them to resist attacks, and gather and communicate information. Home Minister P. Chidambaram has assured chief ministers that funds would be provided to strengthen 400 police stations in the affected districts at the rate of two crore rupees each over a period of two years.
Basic strategy, it was underlined, was development and police action. As such, it was decided that the Planning Commission would help in implementing a special development plan for the affected districts, which would focus on road connectivity, primary education, primary health care and provision of drinking water.
The target areas in uprooting the Naxals are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The urgency was provided by the presence in the meeting of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A.K. Antony, and an announcement that helicopters of the Indian Air Force would provide logistic support to the operations, like airlifting policemen to or from the affected areas.
Dr Manmohan Singh pointed out at the conference that the Maoists have been exploiting tribals with slogans that they are working for their welfare. He underlined the fact that the tribal population in affected states have traditionally depended upon the forests for their means of livelihood.
Development projects generally resulted in the displacement of tribals. It was significant that the Prime Minister admitted that for the tribals, ' administration' meant 'the rapacious forest guard, brutal policemen, and a greedy patwari'. The need is there to provide a better delivery of service, which would care to the needs and concerns of the tribal population and evolve effective livelihood strategies on a sustainable basis.
Development programmes would create more job opportunities to the tribal population. The young tribals could be recruited to the police forces instead of being enlisted in forces like the Salwa Judum, which have become controversial. Could recruitment be more transparent and free of corruption and patronage?
Unlike previous meetings of chief ministers of Naxal-affected states, the recent conference adopted a holistic approach towards Naxalism. It deferred for the time being the use of the Armed Forces to root out the problem, but accepted that the Armed Forces had the necessary expertise, which should be exploited.
Recent incidents in Dantewada and other locations have also brought out the fact that there has not been adequate coordination between the Central Reserve Police and the State Police Forces. The State Police Forces have traditionally been entrusted the task of maintaining law and order and not fighting insurgency.
The Central Reserve Police, which has been deployed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in the country on multifarious duties, needs to train its officers and men in the conduct of anti-Naxal operations Each Naxal-affected State has, as Dr Manmohan Singh, indicated, has different sets of problems, and administrative arrangements. That is why the suggestion has been made to appoint a Central Reserve Police Inspector General to direct the anti-Naxal operations in consultation with the Director General of the State police under the unified command of the Chief Minister. Professional advice would be available by inducting a serving or retired major general from the Army.
Steps are being taken to equip the Central Reserve Police adequately to deal with the Maoists and train the officers and men in guerilla warfare.
The seriousness of the problem was indicated by Chidambaram, who disclosed that during the period January to June 2010, there have been 1103 incidents of violence,. 97 extremists were killed and 1342 apprehended, while 209 member of the security forces were martyred.
The Naxals have been attacking people by projecting them as 'police informers'. The real objective is to eliminate anyone who stands in the way of their objective - an armed 'liberation struggle'
The Maoists have also enlisted intellectuals to help them in their cause. It takes different forms - allegations that the corrupt bureaucracy and the political leadership is immune to the need of poor citizens of the country. Under the conditions prevailing in India, one could also find bureaucrats and politicians who are corrupt. But does it justify armed rebellion?
Chidambaram has also made efforts to enlist 'intellectuals' in his effort to start a dialogue. In a democratic and federal set up like India, when States face elections periodically, it is necessary to respond to suggestions. Many intellectuals are sincere like Swami Agnivesh.
However, the Maoists are clear in their objective. Peace initiatives are only there to realize their ultimate goal - achieve power.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org By I. Ramamohan Rao (ANI)