As security forces continue to battle Naxals in West Bengal’s Lalgarh district, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has told Naxal-affected states to focus on building local intelligence network to enable focused operations in Maoist strongholds.
The home minister — who succeeded in building a political consensus around his strategy to tackle Naxals at Monday’s chief ministers conference — referred to the long-drawn anti-Naxal operation in Lalgarh and said in future operations, security forces should ensure that the Naxals are not able to flee from the targeted areas.
“There was a consensus at the meeting on the strategy that needs to be adopted for fighting Naxalism,” a home ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
West Bengal — the only Naxal-affected state that had not sent any political representative to the conference — however, conveyed that the state government was on board.
Home Ministry officials said all states concerned had, by and large, agreed to place the joint operations, to be launched later this year, in the hands of an inspector general of police/additional director general level officer of the para-military forces.
“This,” a home ministry official said, “would ensure that the operations were not jeopardised due to ego clashes between police officers from different states.” For now, the home ministry is trying to cobble up a substantial number of security personnel, drawn from different para-military forces, to put together a sizeable task force.
Signalling the Centre’s intent to act against the Naxals, Chidambaram outlined areas of concern that the states needed to address.
For one, Chidambaram emphasised strengthening rural policing by filling up vacancies, fortifying police stations and developing the capacity in the state police to generate local intelligence.
The home minister emphasised that while the Intelligence Bureau was on its job, the nature of intelligence that was churned up at the national level was different. If the forces were to conduct surgical operations, an official said, there were limits to how much the forces could depend on satellite imagery and technical intelligence.