Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the Maoist problem has to be dealt with "in a holistic way" through a two-pronged approach of enforcing law and order and simultaneously carrying out development.
"We have to deal with it in a holistic way. Every state has to maintain and enforce law and order. Law and order is a precondition for any sustained social and economic development," Singh said at a press conference here.
Admitting that alienation of tribals was one of the reasons behind the Maoist problem, he said, "We have to operate on two legs. We have to enforce and law and order and simultaneously we have to pay attention to the development dimension of the problem as well."
Singh said he recognised that in certain areas, particularly in areas where the tribal population is in large proportion to the total population, there is alienation, probably reflecting that the development programmes that have been put in place were not reaching those people.
However, the Prime Minister declined to comment on the West Bengal government's decision to swap suspected naxals to secure the freedom of a police officer abducted by Maoists.
On Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's reported statement that there were no Maoists, he said, "well, I have not seen this statement of the Railway Minister. Obviously, the Maoist threat is a reality and the government of India is duty bound to deal with it in an effective manner."