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Naxalism: The thin red line

The Naxal problem is not one that can be wished away, but needs to be dealt with more as a socio-political-economic problem, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2008 10:53 IST
Between Us | Pankaj Vohra
Between Us | Pankaj Vohra
Hindustan Times

If the Centre and state governments have not been able to effectively counter the Naxal problem, it is because responses have been more table-top — bureaucratic or for the sake of keeping the statistics low so that an erroneous picture emerges.

The Naxal problem is not one that can be wished away, but needs to be dealt with more as a socio-political-economic problem and not merely as a law and order one. The Centre has taken the initiative and organised a meeting of chief ministers from the affected states on September 19. It was agreed at the meeting that a coordinated approach was necessary on both security and development fronts simultaneously.

But this policy can become visible only if it shows results at the ground level. The chief ministers have to identify and handpick IAS and IPS officers who can empathise with the people and their problems before being posted to the affected districts. Unless the district administration is sensitive to the thinking in their respective districts, a solution may not be easy to find.

Home ministry officials admit that the problem needs to be dealt with at a level where people and the district administration understand each others' views in order to isolate the Naxals, who want to exploit the situation. A policy paper being given final shape calls for an integrated approach on both security and devlopment fronts. It is being suggested that no state government should initiate peace talks with Naxal groups unless they agree to give up violence and arms.

The Centre has set up three dedicated mechanisms to bring about coordination between different states. A task force headed by the special secretary, MHA, has been set up which meets every month to review and monitor anti-Naxalite operations with IG-level nodal officers in the states. Secondly, a coordination centre with the Union home secretary as the chairman and chief secretaries and DGPs as members has been constituted and meetings will be held every quarter to coordinate action by the states on both security and development.

Thirdly, the standing committee of CMs of Naxal-hit states which met for the first time on September 19 under the chairmanship of the home minister.

The CMs and chief secretaries should have regular review meetings with officers concerned regarding measures being taken on the same pattern as the Centre’s three-pronged strategy. NGOs, media, intelligentsia and other spirited groups of the civil society should mobilize public opinion against Naxal ideology and protracted people’s war and appeal to Naxal groups to join the political process, as had been done by a few Naxal outfits like the CPML (Liberation).

In addition, as part of police action, it has been suggested that sustained intelligence based anti-Naxalite operations be launched. Mechanisms for collection and sharing of actionable intelligence must be strengthened.

First Published: Oct 06, 2005 01:19 IST