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Naxals great threat but govt ready for talk
Published on 11 Oct. 2009 10:29 PM IST
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Refusing to bracket Naxals with terrorists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday ruled out use of armed forces against them and said that the government is willing to hold talks with them if they abjured violence. “They (Naxals) are banned organisations and are covered under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,” he said replying to a question if the government proposed to declare the ultra-left groups as terror outfits. “We are not in favour of using the armed forces against the Naxalites. The para-military forces and police are adequate (for counter-Naxal operations),” he told a press meet here and underscored the need for looking at the causes of alienation of the people, particularly the tribals. While terming Naxalism as the biggest internal security threat, the Prime Minister said dialogue with them was possible only if they shunned violence. “Why the Naxalites alone, the government is prepared to have a dialogue with even the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir if they abjure violence,” he said. Voicing concern over Saturday’s audacious Taliban assault on Pakistan military’s general headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the Prime Minister said, “People and government of Pakistan should realise the great harm and (their) patronisation of terrorist groups have done to the South Asian region. “The situation in our neighbourhood -- in Pakistan and Afghanistan is not as it should be. Rising role of terrorist groups is a matter of concern for us,” he said. Singh refused to be drawn into any controversy over CBI’s decision seeking closure of the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors gun deal, reported Times of India on its website. “It is not proper for me to comment on CBI petition for closure of the case as it is sub-judice, but we acted on legal advice from attorney general, solicitor general (which was) endorsed by the law minister,” he said. Maintaining that the worst of price rise was over, the Prime Minister ruled out announcement of any fresh farm loan waiver and hoped that the Rabi crop would be normal. He also described as “improper” the Maharashtra-for-Marathi campaign by MNS leader Raj Thackeray, saying, “I feel sorry. I am confident the people of Maharashtra will give him a befitting reply.” Naxal violence claims 2,600 lives in 3 years The Naxalites, who have become the gravest internal security threat forcing the Centre to plan an all-out offensive against them, have killed more than 2,600 people, including civilians, in the last three years. The highest number of incidents of violence has taken place in four worst-affected states -- Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa -- where 2,212 people lost their lives from January 2006 to August this year. “We have witnessed more than 5,800 incidents of Naxal violence across the country during the period forcing the government to announce a new strategy to deal with the menace which is growing at an alarming pace in many states,” a home ministry official said. In Chhattisgarh, 388 people were killed by the Maoists in 715 incidents in 2006. While 369 lost their lives in 2007, another 242 were killed in 2008. In 2009 till August, about 180 people lost their lives in the state. Altogether 124 people were killed by Maoists in 2006 in Jharkhand, 157 people in 2007 while another 207 lost their lives in 2008. In 2009 till August, about 150 people were killed by the Naxals. With nearly 40,000 para-military personnel, the Centre has readied its anti-Naxal plan which also includes a Rs 7,300-crore package for developmental works in areas cleared off the Left-wing extremists. The Naxalite movement started when an extremist section of CPI(M)) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal attacked the police on May 25, 1967 in Naxalbari village in North Bengal after a farmer was killed by miscreants over a land dispute. The same year the Naxalites organised the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), and later broke away from CPI(M). Today the Maoists are active in Lalgarh, Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum districts in West Bengal. From 2002 onwards Maoists have been infiltrating from Jharkhand and Orissa to West Midnapore particularly in areas like Belpahari, Kantapahari and Banspahari. In Orissa, 17 0f 30 districts are Maoist hit, in Jharkhand 20 of the 24 districts while in Bihar 30 out of 38 districts, according to official sources. In Bihar on February 9 this year, ten policemen, including some from the special auxiliary police, were killed in an ambush in Nawada district. More recently on August 22, four policemen including an assistant sub-inspector were killed by Maoists in Jamui district. It was the same in Orissa where 10 CISF personnel were killed in an attack by Maoists at NALCO’s bauxite mines in Damanjodi on April 12, while 11 other security personnel died in a landmine explosion in the third week of June this year in Narayanpatna in Koraput district. A top former Jharkhand police officer, who did not wish to be named was sceptical about the Centre’s plans to tackle Maoists with the IAF given permission to retaliate if attacked. “Unnecessary needling may result in spurt in Naxal violence,” he said. A former DGP of Orissa, S N Tiwari, echoed him. “The situation is grim. Day by day it is becoming difficult,” he said.

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