Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tackling Naxalism: Post-Dantewada

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Indian Home Minister P. Chidambram has clearly stated that naxalism is the biggest challenge being faced by the nation. He has also stated that the naxal leadership is no mood to discuss their genuine grievances with the government. The naxal leadership has not responded to the government’s offer of talks. Instead, their violent activities have shown a sharp rise. Not only they have been targeting the police forces personnel but they are also resorting to abductions and killing of innocent civilians as well as the destruction of public assets like railway tracks/trains, public transport, government buildings/institutions. The Government’s soft approach to naxal activities is the main cause for their emboldened actions against the state machinery.

The latest incident in which more than 70 CRPF personnel were killed including a deputy commandant and an assistant commandant at Dantewada on 6 April 2010 should be critical enough to initiate stern steps to root out naxalism from Indian soil. This incident is much beyond the threshold of tolerance and leaves no further scope to continue with a soft approach towards naxalites. The situation has become grave enough and calls for an immediate and serious state response. If the government does not take concrete and stern steps even now, it should be prepared to accept more such incidents of even greater intensity.

Naxalism in India has crossed all limits of tolerance. The so-called naxalites are actually anti-national elements who also lack an agenda for public welfare. The on-going nexus between Naxals and miners in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and the huge extortion networks they run in areas under their control are a matter of deep concern and need to be addressed immediately. The Naxals are butchering innocent citizens and only pursuing their self interests through a strategy of terror. Killers of human beings have no right to claim themselves as saviours of the poor.

The time is ripe enough to focus on our internal security situation instead of devoting so much time to other issues. The most challenging task before the government today is the elimination of the naxal terror network in its entirety. These anti-national elements are the biggest stumbling blocks for the progress of the nation and hence cannot be allowed to flourish in a democracy.

If our police forces are unable to tackle the situation, they have to be made capable through well chalked out capacity building measure on priority. This is going to take significant time. However, till such time police forces become fit enough, other options may be exercised without any further delay, to ensure the safety of human lives and preventing damage to public assets. If Sri Lanka can eliminate a well trained and suitably equipped and armed LTTE, India can very well root out ill-equiped and poorly armed anti-national elements from its soil, provided the political leadership displays its will clearly.

While it is essential to have more and more police personnel trained in counter-insurgency operations, it is equally important to equip them suitably. The services of the Army leadership and personnel at all levels may be suitably requisitioned by the police, to fill the void temporarily, if considered appropriate. A well planned and clear cut strategy will definitely bring these anti-national elements to their knees. All their known leaders/sympathisers must be arrested immediately. Such an action might be considered as going too far by many. But it is necessary when lives are at stake in a civilized society. The mere issuing of statements or condemning naxal activities is not going to fetch results in the present context any more. Politicians and ministers should not find any more solace in blame games between central and state leadership. Prioritising vote bank requirements above that of human lives is not likely to yield any breakthrough.

If naxal activities have to be stopped, the government must act firmly even if they have to be neutralized by the selective use of the armed forces including the Indian Air Force. The intelligence network has to be strengthened significantly. Not only the training and equipping of the police forces but also the development of police leadership needs special focus. The supply lines of the Naxals have to be cut ruthlessly. It should not be forgotten that social issues like development of under developed/backward and remote areas, provision of employment opportunities, implementation of education policies, provision of quality health services and ensuring safety and security of human lives and public assets are priority obligations on the part of the government. There is also an immediate need to realistically book corrupt politicians, businessmen and government functionaries in order to restore the faith and confidence of masses in the credibility of the government in affected areas. Such steps must be taken in a time bound manner with a clear and implementable approach. Let us remember that now the threat is more from these anti-national elements as compared to hostile neighbouring countries. All available instruments of national power must now be exploited to eliminate these terror outfits from society.


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