Monday, September 19, 2005

Joint force to curb rebels


New Delhi, Sept. 19: After failing to arrive at a consensus for unified action against Naxalites, the chief ministers of the affected states agreed at the first standing committee meeting today to form inter-state joint task forces to police the contiguous borders.

Instead of the proposed two task forces of five and six states each, each state will have several task forces depending on its borders, said a Union home ministry official. Jharkhand could have five such forces as it shares borders with five Naxalite-affected states.

The formation of the task forces is not binding and if two neighbouring states think formation of such a force is needed to curb Naxalism, they could form one.

The modalities and command structure of these task forces will be decided by home secretary V.K. Duggal in consultation with chief secretaries of the states.

“The states, however, have been asked to make these JTFs operational soon,” said the official.

The meeting could not throw up a consensus on a unified action plan against Naxalites as there were different views on the severity of the problem and how to tackle it.

A couple of chief ministers wanted a Centre-backed unified strategy to deal with the rebels, but others thought it would create problems as law and order is a state subject.

The chief ministers, however, used the opportunity to press for central funds for development activities in rebel-affected areas to wean people away from Naxalites.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur sought as much as Rs 500 crore to take up development activities.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy wanted the Centre to help raise two India Reserve Battalions, implement the rural employment guarantee scheme in all Naxalite-affected districts and provide cheap credit and loans.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil said a special group would be constituted in every state to set up effective structures at the state and district levels for better governance and faster socio-economic development in Naxalite-affected areas.

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