Centre declares war on Naxals
Naxalites have had a free run in more than a hundred districts for years. The government is finally preparing to fight back, and hard.india Updated: Oct 03, 2007 04:04 IST
Naxalites have had a free run in more than a hundred districts for years. The government is finally preparing to fight back, and hard.
A blueprint to wage a war against Naxalites will be finalised this month-end that will see the government pumping in money and firepower to liberate areas under Naxal domination.
Eight districts across four states have been selected for the first round. Each district has been told to ready its wish list to win over people on their side and re-establish the sovereignty of the state.
“We are going to nullify the cause and effect of the problem; address developmental issues that draw people to Naxalism and launch counter-offensive operations to neutralise the armed cadre,” a senior home ministry official said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called Naxalism India’s “single biggest internal security challenge” but his government was never seen to be actively fighting back. This is the first time that the Centre has decided to take the problem head-on and not just sit back and monitor. The concept of selecting a limited number of districts was put on the drawing board at the meeting of the National Security Council that met in August.
National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and home secretary Madhukar Gupta subsequently held several rounds of discussions to produce a set of guidelines for the states.
Outlining the broad strategy, a security official said the concept was to take the operations right into the interiors.
“It is time to take the battle right into the Naxal strongholds and stay there rather than conduct operations at the fringes and let them disappear into the deep forests,” said a security official. This will be done by long range patrolling by security forces who would set up self-sufficient camps in Naxal strongholds.
On the administrative side, the official said the plan also entails the civil administration to stand up to Naxal threats and not just wriggle out of difficult situations by abandoning their posts. It is for this reason that most people killed in Naxal action are policemen and politicians; they are the ones who stand up.
As a part of the central strategy, the police are also being told to provide personal security to key functionaries like executive magistrates to enable them to take decisions against Naxalites without fear. The government also intends to put the new developmental initiatives on the fast track to complete projects like hospitals and educational institutions in the shortest possible time.
Police officers who are fighting the Naxals suggested they could do with some more help. Satish Kumar Gajbhiye, Malkangiri SP, wanted a graded incentive scheme for the security personnel posted in difficult areas to lift their morale; the incentive should vary depending on the difficulty level of the posting and not uniform.
Besides, Gajbhiye said the central government should also help states create economic infrastructure also like roads and improve communication facilities. A highway through the Naxal-infested belt – the state government had proposed one to link Vijayawada to Ranchi – would not only help movement of security forces but also help put food in empty stomachs.