Sunday, November 29, 2009

NGOs told to tame rebels

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, Nov. 20: The Union home ministry has appealed to civil society organisations, who security experts advise are a major party to be “won over” in the battle against Maoists, to ask the CPI(Maoist) not to disrupt elections in Jharkhand.

“The ministry thinks that civil society organisations should also play their part and condemn the wanton acts of violence and ask the CPI(Maoist) not to disrupt elections which constitute the foundation of a democracy,” a release stated.

In the same breath, home minister P. Chidambaram has said that the Jharkhand government would continue to take pre-emptive action against the CPI(Maoist) in order to maintain law and order and to facilitate free and fair elections.

The ministry said it was confident that people would face the challenge of the CPI (Maoist) resolutely and turn out in large numbers to vote in the five-phased elections that begin on November 25.

Twice this month, the ministry has gone on a propaganda war offensive against the Maoists on the issue of Jharkhand polls that the rebels have boycotted. Earlier, Chidambaram used the Maoists’ own columns and writings to prove that they were against democracy. “Nothing can be more destructive of democracy and the rule of law than attempts by a banned organisation to disrupt elections through premeditated acts of violence,” the statement said.

Then, Chidambaram wrote a personal letter to former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray of the Citizens’ Initiative for Peace.

The home minister’s attempts to bridge the gap with civil society organisations, many of whom were sympathetic to the Naxalites, has made some difference.

Ray and others recently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the government not to make forward movement of troops and appealed to the Maoists to halt the violence.

While that may not have affected the Maoists’ violent ways, Chidambaram continues in his attempts to forge an alliance with the NGOs who work in Maoist-affected middle India.

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