With Maoist attacks against security forces becoming increasingly systematic by the day, home minister P Chidambaram has scaled up the level of threat posed by the rebels — dubbing them as “the most formidable internal security challenge”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke after the home minister at the chief ministers’ conference, said 2011 was a better year than 2010 in terms of the number of people killed by Left-wing extremists. Chidambaram, however, cautioned the state heads against letting the figures give them “a false sense of assurance”.
“The decline in... casualties among civilians and security forces in Naxal-affected districts may give a false sense of assurance, but that is not the true picture,” he said.
Chidambaram stated that Assam was emerging as the new theatre of Maoist activities, and there were reports of the rebels linking up with insurgent groups in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. He did not quote specific statistics because they had been circulated ahead of the meeting.
Chidambaram acknowledged that the outcome of bold forays into Red territory by security forces had been sub-optimal, and conceded that the government’s “capacity to execute development plans is not commensurate with the nature of the challenge”.
The home minister — who was instrumental in devising the Integrated Action Plan that provides additional funds for development in Naxal-affected districts — said: “Still, we do not have the upper hand because there are not enough police stations, not enough men, weapons and vehicles; not enough infrastructure for the CAPFs; not enough roads; not enough presence of the civil administration.”