Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two-pronged approach to tackle naxalism

Special Correspondent

We are not in favour of any non-state players, says Chidambaram

P. Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday told Parliament that the services of a military adviser had been enlisted to draw up a joint action plan (by States) to deal with the naxal problem.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha during question hour that the government would pursue a two-pronged approach to deal with the menace — first a police action to secure the ground and follow it up with development work.

Securing the ground was necessary as development works had become naxalites’ targets — they were blowing up communication towers, destroying school buildings and planting mines to prevent laying of roads, he pointed out.

The Ministry had underestimated the problem of Left-wing extremism and naxalites extended their area of influence. “Today it poses a grave challenge to the state. We are prepared to take on this challenge.”

Chief Ministers to meet

Mr. Chidambaram said he had personally visited all the affected States and was in regular touch with the Chief Ministers concerned to finalise a plan. Both States and the Centre had to collectively rise to the occasion to face the challenge.

A meeting of the Chief Ministers of the affected States would be held next month.

Responding to a query of D. Raja (CPI) on the Centre’s policy towards Salwa Judum, the Minister said: “We are not in favour of any non-state players,” be it from any political party or Salwa Judum. The problem should be dealt with by Chhattisgarh.

The Minister said even the Chief Minister “now more or less” accepted this viewpoint.

Mr. Chidambaram was responding to M. Venkaiah Naidu’s (BJP) statement that the Centre’s view could affect Salwa Judum, as people, including a prominent Congress leader in the State, were backing it.

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