Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Co-operate more to fight Naxalites: Chidambaram to states

Rajat Roy / Kolkata February 10, 2010, 0:39 IST
Encouraged by the recent success in nabbing some top Naxalite leaders in UP, Bihar and Orissa, the Centre is urging the states to coordinate more with each other in their effort to conduct the anti-Naxalite operations in the eastern states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.

The Union home minister P Chidambaram held a meeting of these states today at Kolkata where “the inter state issues’ of conducting the anti-Naxalite operations were discussed at length and “some decisions were taken” which would be acted upon shortly, said Chidambaram after the meeting.

The Naxalites responded with landmine blasts in railway tracks in Jharkhand and Bihar in the last and third day of their bandh in the three states. Day before yesterday the Naxalites exploded landmine in railway track in Orissa. But Chidambaram is undeterred by these events.

He expressed confidence that in the next six months the operation would be able to “reclaim the areas dominated by the Naxalites.” Incidentally, at present large forest tracts in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh has virtually become “liberated zone” of the Naxalites and they roam freely in the forest corridors in Orissa, Jharkhand and part of south Bihar. But of late the Naxalites have faced some setbacks. Chidambaram claimed that in the recent past, there has been significant progress in inter-state operation and some key Naxalite leaders have been apprehended in the past few months.

“Contrary to what a section of media and NGOs believed, no massive carnage took place. We made it clear that the purpose of this operation is not to kill anyone. They are our own people, we care for them, for their lives. Our object is not to kill anyone. Our aim is to reestablish rule of law in areas which are now dominated by the Naxalites,” he said.

Today’s meeting was attended by two chief ministers Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Navin Patnaik of West Bengal and Orissa respectively, the Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren could not come as he suddenly fell sick and was admitted in a Ranchi hospital last night. The Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was also unable to come as “he had some prior engagement”. Jharkhand was represented in the meeting by two deputy chief ministers and Bihar was represented by top police officials.

While talking to the media after the meeting Chidambaram issued an appeal to the Naxalites to abjure violence. “My appeal to the Naxalites is that you say a halt to violence, we are not asking you to do more, then we are prepared to talk to you,” said Chidambaram. At the same time he indicated that as of now there won’t be any let up in the operations. He observed that “unfortunately the past appeals have been spurned. Therefore, we are obliged to continue the operations.” But at the same time he tried to impress on the civil society the point that the ongoing operations have been more “controlled, calibrated and careful” so as to minimise the collateral damages and it could continue to be so.

Keeping in mind that there has been serious criticism from within the Union cabinet, Mamata Banerjee went public claiming that their joint operation has failed to achieve its objectives, Chidambaram commented, “I think, the progress will be slow but steady. We can’t measure the progress of the operation as we do in the case of a cricket match over by over.” Responding to a pointed question he said, “She (Mamata) has told me that the operations we are doing in West Midnapur are not yielding the result we hoped to achieve when we started it. She has a point of view and I have taken note of it. We will try to make it as effective as possible.” But at the same breath he negated the charge and counter charges hurled against each other by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee of abetting the Naxalites by saying, “As far as I am concerned, nobody is colluding with the Maoists. The Maoists are fighting the State. They believe in armed struggle, and consider the parliamentary system as pig sty. Any political party that believes in parliamentary system cannot collude with them.”

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