Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maoists are terrorists

22 Jul 2009, 0532 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: After targeting the state police and Central forces engaged in counter-Naxal operations, CPI(Maoist) has now resorted to the publicity

gimmick of issuing a “threat” to big names like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, besides daring home minister P Chidambaram to visit the extremism-hit state of Jharkhand.

“Both PM and Sonia Gandhi will meet a fate like former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi,”
a CPI (Maoist) press release warned on Monday. Rajiv Gandhi, it be recalled, was killed by a LTTE suicide bomber during an election rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, in 1991, allegedly in revenge against his decision to send the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka to contain LTTE rebels.

Maoists minced no words against Mr Chidambaram for pledging to put an end to Naxalism. “..Chidambaram says the government will end Maoisim in the country...his statement will remain dream...If Chidambaram has the courage, he should come to Jharkhand,” dared the CPI (Maoist) release, signed by Jharkand state committee member Atulji.

The Centre, which feels the latest tactic of CPI (Maoist) to name Mr Singh, Mrs Gandhi and Mr Chidambaram as its likely targets, is more of an eyeball-grabbing campaign than a real threat that needs to be assessed and immediately acted upon. “Obviously, by killing a constable, they could not have generated enough media interest...by aiming their guns at VVIPs, they are only ensuring enough publicity to counter the “terrorist” tag imposed on CPI(Maoist) recently by the Centre,” commented a senior MHA official.

Obviously, the Union home ministry is not too worried over the latest threat issued by CPI(Maoist) against the three top leaders and will not let itself be distracted from its immediate plans of a major offensive against Left-wing extremists or its long-term strategy to strengthen the counter-Naxal grid by strengthening the police in rural and tribal areas.

“The prime minister and Sonia Gandhi are fully secure...don’t worry,” said Mr Chidambaram when asked for a reaction to the CPI (Maoist) latest threat.

In its press release issued late on Monday, CPI (Maoist) also threatened Congress leaders in Jharkhand, asking them to quit their party or face dire consequences.

CPI (Maoist) has called a 24-hour bandh across Jharkhand and Bihar starting Tuesday midnight. Incidentally, the bandh comes even as huge crowds were expected in Taregna, some 30 km from Patna, in Bihar and Daltonganj in Jharkhand to watch the century’s longest solar eclipse. The two places have been named by NASA as spots from where the rare celestial event will be best visible.

Meanwhile, MHA has decided not to be deterred by the threats issued against top government functionaries and politicians and is going ahead with arranging the manpower for the big counter-Naxal offensive by redeploying the Central forces. As a long-term strategy, the Union home ministry officials are preparing a concept paper to be presented before the 13th Finance Commission seeking non-plan assistance for Naxal-hit states to revamp rural policing.

According to a senior MHA official, there is a need to strengthen police stations in the rural Naxal-hit belt by stepping up recruitment and aiming to increase their staff to 40-60 police personnel each. The recruitment drive could cover locals as well, thus not only helping generate employment but also attracting police personnel familiar with the local terrain.

The concept paper will also seek more funds for setting up police training institutes, a must to impart skills to the additional policemen that would be hired as part of the overall plan to strengthen rural police stations.

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