Against the backdrop of the arrest of Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said civil society must not romanticise the Naxalites.
Noting that in the last ten years Naxalites have expanded their area of operation and capacity to commit violent acts, he said, "it is a sad fact that a section of civil society romanticises them."
Saying that some people treat Naxalites as "bulwark against captialism", Chidambaram said that these "few grains of truth must be seen in the context of mountain of violence".
Quoting from a seized document which stated Indian Naxal groups' philosophy, he said, "They regard elections as meaningless and pseudo-democratic."
Talking particularly about Kobad Ghandy, a Mumbai-based businessman's son who became a Naxalite, Chidambaram said, "Kobad Ghandy is on record saying that Naxalites would never participate in mainstream politics."
"How can the country accept this?" Chidambaram said.
Referring to Maoists in Nepal who participated in Parliamentary elections, Chidambaram wondered why Indian Maoists do not follow this example.
He was delivering the fourth Nani Palkhiwala memorial lecture here.
"There is no logical answer to this (why Naxals do not take part in democratic elections) from Maoists, from human rights activists who support them, or the left-leaning intellectuals," Chidambaram said.
Terming Naxalites as "anti-development", he said, "In 2009 alone there have been 183 attacks on economic targets, such as railway stations, panchayat buildings, schools, etc."
However, the home minister also said that "war on Naxalism does not mean war on Naxalites".
"Their leaders, their cadres...are Indian citizens. No civilized government will wage a war against its own people."
"I hope that leaders of civil society would prevail upon Naxalites to abjure violence and participate in democracy," Chidambaram said.
Talking about terrorism in general he said there were two camps in the civil society: people who "pronounce someone guilty before trial" and the people who defend accused person even after the investigation".
"Both these fundamentalist as well as righteous attitude come in the way of fight against terrorism," Chidambaram said.