NEW DELHI: Terming Naxalism as the biggest challenge to democracy, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Mr Raman Singh today suggested sealing of the inter-state borders in the affected areas and deployment of special forces which are properly armed there.
Speaking at a discussion on Naxalism at the Constitution Club here, Mr Singh, whose state is reeling under Naxal violence, however, stressed that the problem could only be solved through dialogue and continuous development of the affected areas.
Stating that Naxalism has to end and there was “no way backwards” on this, the chief minister cautioned that one had to be prepared for a long-drawn battle to end the menace.
On the Supreme Court judgment with regard to disarming the SPOs in Naxal-infested areas, Mr Singh said, “While fully respecting the apex court judgment, we have issued an ordinance to form the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Force whereby 6,000-odd tribals will be part of this force.”
He said, “If we disarm the SPOs, who will protect them and their families, who have already suffered many killings of their kin. The State has now provided them with uniform, better pay scales and insurance to live a life of dignity.”
Citing the example of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, who dodged police forces of three states for 12 years, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister said, “I have thousands of Veerappan hiding in bigger jungles, who are also armed with deadly weapons.”
Mr Singh sought the Centre’s help in tackling Naxalism asking for a Rs 125-crore package for upgrading firearm and bomb-detection technology in the state. “We do not have IED detection technology and are seeking the Centre’s help in upgrading our technology.”
“If terrorism in Punjab could be solved, why not the problem of naxalism,” Singh said while suggesting an integrated plan of development in the affected areas.
Highlighting the plight of tribals who have been forced to move out of their homes because of threat from Naxals, Mr Singh said, “Tribals are content being in the forests and never wanted to migrate. They are now being forced to live in migrant camps, only to protect themselves.”
He said that since tribals were never given the land rights, the Naxals took advantage of the situation to mislead and influence them to take up arms.
“Had we granted them “pattas” for land 50 years ago, the present situation would not have arrived,” he lamented.
Terming Naxalism as a national issue and the biggest challenge before the nation, Raman Singh said compared to terror casualties, five times more people had died due to naxalism in the last three years.
“While in 2009-10, only 82 persons died due to terrorism, while 555 persons due to Naxalism. Similarly, in 2008-09, those dying due to terrorism were 147, but those due to naxalism were far more at 480,” said Mr Singh.
Hitting out at Naxal sympathisers, Mr Singh said Naxals cannot be in favour of anyone or any political party. “If someone thinks Naxals are theirs, they are sadly mistaken. They cannot sympathise with anyone. They just wish to grab power through the gun.”
Earlier speaking at the discussion, senior BJP leader Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Supreme Court judgment with regard to disarming of SPOs “is guided by the ideology of Marxism”.
“We respect the judiciary, but we expect the Centre to respond and seek a review of the judgment,” said the BJP leader.
He said the Naxals wanted to grab power through the gun. While seeking an early solution to the problem, he urged the Centre to take the first step in this regard.
Mr Prasad alleged that vested interests and businessmen were misusing the tribals and turning them against the government.
“It pains to see people talk about human rights of Naxals. What about the human rights of tribals and those killed?”, he asked and added, “The police and the use of guns would not be useful to win them over. It is through dialogue that you have to win them over.”