Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home Secy hints at China hand behind Naxal trouble

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 8

Just a day after the “not-so -successful” round of Indo-Nepal talks ended, Union Home Secretary GK Pillai today — on return to India —took on China, indicating that the neighbour might be arming the Maoists.

This is being seen as the first ever missive by a government functionary in indicating a Chinese link to the Maoists. In the past few months, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has termed the left-wing Maoists as the biggest national security threat.

Pillai, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in the Capital, said he was “sure” Maoist guerrillas in India were acquiring weapons from China.

“Chinese are huge suppliers of small arms and I am sure the Maoists get it from them,” the Home Secretary said. Pillai did not elaborate whether the Maoists were getting arms from Chinese arms smugglers or from undercover official agencies.

The Home Secretary’s opinion adds a new dimension to the existing tensions between India and China.

Asked whether the government had any information if the Maoists’ links with China went beyond arms, Pillai quipped: “You should ask them (Maoists)”.
The Home Secretary had earlier linked Indian leftist insurgents with the Maoists in Nepal. But he maintained that there was no clear evidence about the Nepali Maoists assisting or providing arms to their Indian counterparts.

Pillai went on to reiterate the stance of the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram saying the government was willing to have a dialogue but Maoists should abjure violence.

Well-armed Maoist militants, owing allegiance to ultra-left groups, pose a serious security challenge in over 220 districts.

In the past, China had repeatedly said it had nothing to do with Indian Maoists who took their name and inspiration from Mao Zedong, former chairman of Communist Party of China.

Separately, responding to another question, the Home Secretary confirmed reports originating from US that David Coleman Headley, arrested by the FBI, had visited India, including Mumbai, several times.

He said the government knew that Headley had visited India a number of times. That was been investigated. The 49-year-old Headley was arrested last month at Chicago as he prepared to board a flight, intending to travel to Pakistan

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