Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chidambaram admits failures in war against Maoists

July 15th, 2009
New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) The central and state governments have been tardy in tackling the Maoists, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday, three days after 29 policemen were killed in Chhattisgarh.
“Regrettably, we did not challenge the threat of Leftwing extremism adequately. Today, this poses a grave challenge,” the minister said in the Rajya Sabha during question hour.

Chidambaram added: “We are preparing to take on this challenge but the details cannot be disclosed.”

He said he had visited the Maoist-affected states. The government planned to hold a meeting in August to discuss a roadmap to take on the Maoists.

“We now have a military advisor to help us draw up our plans.”

Chidambaram’s comments came after Maoist guerrillas gunned down 29 policemen Sunday in Chhattiagarh’s Rajnandgaon district in one of the most horrific massacres blamed on the rebels.

Thousands have been killed in violence linked to the Maoist insurgency in India that began in 1967 and shows no signs of ending.

Chidambaram underlined that he did not favour non-state players taking on the Maoists. This work was best left to authorities of the areas where the cancer existed.

The comments were clearly aimed at the Chhattisgarh government whose state-funded, anti-Maoist Salwa Judum militia has been widely criticized for rights violations.

“I am not in favour of non-state elements taking on the Naxalites (Maoists). We want the state to take them on,” Chidambaram said.

Replying to a supplementary, the minister said: “I was asked a specific question about Salwa Judum and I have given a specific reply. I am not in favour of any non-state players taking on extremism.

“The (Chhattisgarh) chief minister (Raman Singh) now more or less accepts my line,” Chidambaram added.

Chhattisgarh is one of half a dozen states where Maoist guerrillas are most active and control vast areas where the writ of the state doesn’t run and where security forces repeatedly get ambushed.

Noting that the issue “essentially has to be answered by the states as this is linked to the lack of development”, he said the “most recent manifestation of this” was in Lalgarh in West Bengal where Maoists had declared a “liberated area” till a major offensive was mounted against them.

“The issue has to be tackled two-fold. First, there is police action to re-establish the writ of the state followed by developmental activities,” Chidambaram said.

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