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Centre unveils 14-point policy to tackle naxal menace

Tuesday 28 March 2006, by KUMAR*Vinay

Stresses upon the States to adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated response

No peace talks with naxal groups unless they agree to give up violence Parties asked to strengthen base in naxal-affected areas Land reforms on a priority basis

NEW DELHI: Even as the naxalite menace continues to remain an area of serious concern, recent attacks by naxalites in Orissa and Chhattisgarh have once again exposed the Government’s inability to come up with a concrete and effective counter-strategy to deal with the menace that has spread across a dozen States.

In a status paper on the naxal problem, placed in Parliament by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on March 13, the Government has spelt out a policy to combat the challenge posed by the naxalite menace. The 14-point policy stresses upon the States to adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter it. It emphasises that there will be no peace dialogue by the affected States with the naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms. It is at slight variation with the UPA Government’s earlier policy of allowing the affected States to enter into peace talks with the naxal groups. The Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh had a ceasefire arrangement with the naxal groups but the peace process proved to be short-lived.

Another component of the policy is that it asks political parties to strengthen their base in naxal-affected areas so that the youth could be weaned away from the path of naxal ideology.

"Efforts will continue to be made to promote local resistance groups against naxalites but in a manner that the villagers are provided adequate security cover and the area is effectively dominated by the security forces," the status paper said. However, it remains silent on the recent Maoists onslaught on Salwa Judum activists in Chhattisgarh.

The States will need to further improve the police response, pursue effective and sustained police action against naxalites and their infrastructure individually and jointly.

Reiterating the Government resolve to deal sternly with the naxalites indulging in violence, it acknowledged that it was not merely a law and order problem. "The policy of the Government is to address this menace simultaneously on political, security, development and public perception management fronts in a holistic manner," it said.

The paper lauded the Andhra Pradesh Government’s effective surrender and rehabilitation policy for naxalites, which has produced good results over the years. It asked other States to adopt a similar policy.

Referring to the counter measures, it said that overall counter action by the affected States in terms of naxalites killed, arrested, surrendered and arms recovered from them has shown much better results in 2005. It underlined the need to further improve and strengthen police response, particularly by Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra by improving actionable intelligence collection and sharing mechanisms and strengthening their police forces on the pattern of Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh.

The counter-strategy also refers to modernisation of the State police, revision of security-related expenditure, supply of mine protected vehicles, long-term deployment of Central Para-Military Forces, deployment of Sashastra Seema Bal along the Indo-Nepal border, revision of guidelines to permit 40 per cent recruitment in Central forces form the border areas and naxal-affected areas.

Dwelling upon the social, developmental and political measures, it said the Centre had provided financial assistance of Rs. 2,475 crores for 55 naxal-affected districts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal under the Backward Districts Initiative (BDI). On tribal and forest related issues, it said the Government had introduced the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 in Parliament in December last. Further, to facilitate social and physical infrastructure in the forest areas, the Ministry of Environment and Forests approved allowing such infrastructure by utilising one hectare of forestland for non-forest purposes.

While admitting that naxal groups have been raising land and livelihood related issues, the paper stresses upon taking up land reforms on a priority basis. It says that allotment of land to the landless and poor in the naxal-affected areas would go a long way in tackling the developmental aspects.

On the incidents of violence, the paper shows while 515 people died in 2003, the number of deaths went up to 566 in 2004 and 669 in 2005. In the first two months of this year, the number of deaths recorded in naxal-violence stands at 116.

The Union Home Ministry has also scheduled two crucial meetings this week. A meeting with the Railway Board Chairman and top officials of the Central Industrial Security Force and the Railway Protection Force on Wednesday in the wake of hijacking of a passenger train for 12 hours in Jharkhand recently and the Coordination Centre meeting of the naxalite-violence affected States on Friday. Both the meetings will be presided over by Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal.

See online : The Hindu

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