Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday laid out his policy on dealing with the Naxals on the table, promising every possible help from the Centre to the states at the conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security.
But as he heard chief ministers demanding more assistance from Delhi, he regretted that only a dozen states had bothered to respond to the central questionnaire to prepare where India stood in fighting terrorism in all its forms.
Ahead of the home ministry-driven anti-Naxalite offensive, Chidambaram also drummed up political support for the operation, saying police action would be Delhi’s first response to naxalism.
Dubbing Naxalites “anti-development”, the home minister told chief ministers that restoration of civil administration and development activities would follow the police action.
“We believe in the two-pronged approach of development and police action,” Chidambaram said, pointing that Naxals had targeted instruments of development since they would “wean away the masses, especially the poor tribals from the grip of naxalites”.
Narrowing the scope of states trying to get into dialogue with Naxals, the home minister said the state governments were encouraged to talk to them on the condition that they “give up their misconceived armed liberation struggle”.
Chidambaram later acknowledged executing projects in Naxal areas, particularly building roads, wasn’t an easy task since the private sector was reluctant. In this context, the home minister suggested that the central para-military forces might have to play a more active role in this task too.
Most chief ministers nudged the Centre for more financial assistance to modernise and expand police forces and the security infrastructure.
Home Ministry officials were, however, dismissive, wondering why the states had not asked for more money from the 13th Finance Commission. “More than 20 states did not ask for a single paisa from the finance commission for setting up police stations,” a senior home ministry official said.
But most states unanimously told the Centre they were too weak to counter international threats, as they don’t have resources to equip their men with superior technology.
The states said they were willing to fight the hi-tech warfare, provided the Centre gave them adequate resources.
They said terrorism should not be treated merely as a low and order situation.