Rebel-infested Indian state urges govt to step up anti-Naxal operations

19:57, April 21, 2010      

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Political parties across the spectrum in the central Indian state of Jharkhand have come together to press the Shibu Soren government to step up anti-Naxal operations in the state, which has, in the recent years, witnessed a steep rise in violence perpetrated by the extreme left-wing rebels.

The state of Jharkhand, which received minimal development funds from undivided Bihar when it came into existence in 2001, is already facing huge resettlement and rehabilitation issues.

"Till now Chief Minister Shibu Soren has been giving contradictory statements on Naxals. At least now his government and allies should take the issue very seriously and step up anti- Naxal operation with commitment," local Congress leader Radhakrishna Kishore said in a recent statement.

Kishore is the convenor of an anti-naxal committee set up by Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC).

"Instead of making a pause in the anti-Naxal operations, the state government should step it up," Kishore said.

Another plan being contemplated at the moment by the state government is to raise the strength of police stations which fall under Naxal-affected zones. Also battalions of former servicemen may be increased.

Sources in the state government revealed that a 2,000-strong task force would be in place soon. The task force would conduct operations in the inhospitable terrain of the state.

The state government is also pondering over starting a jungle warfare training school.

Meanwhile, the operations of the central paramilitary forces are facing restrictions in Jharkhand due to the presence of a large tribal population in Naxal-dominated areas.

Interestingly, the Naxalite rebels in Jharkhand have been found to be good experts in cloning sophisticated weapons, including assault rifles of AK series. The fact was brought out by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) team which recently busted an arms manufacturing unit in forests close to Gobardaha village in Chatra district in Jharkhand.

The CRPF men recovered a number of duplicate AK-47 and AK-57 rifles. In the recent times, Naxals have found railway infrastructure a lucrative target. The East Central division of the Indian Railways, which spans the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, has reported rising trend of Naxal attacks on railways.

After attacking public infrastructure, civilians and security personnel, the guerrillas easily slip into other adjoining states.

"The Naxal issue is actually a socio-economical problem. Naxalite groups often take advantage of the situations in less developed areas which is why industries and development projects are always on their hit list," Revti Ramaiyah, an academician and resident of a small village near the Girdih forest area, said.

Naxals in India firmly believe that violence will make foreign companies hesitant to invest and set up their businesses in interior areas of Jharkhand.

They fear that their base would stand eroded if the interior areas were developed.

Like Revti, most local intellectuals agree that being a vexing political and humanitarian problem, Naxalism needs a long-term strategic framework that places education at the core.

"What India needs to do is provide improved social infrastructure in the Naxalite heartland. The recent developments such as granting formal land titles and Forest Rights Act to tribals are signs that things may change eventually in time," he added.

But those who do not agree with him are many.

"Development in the tribal heartland of Jharkhand will help eradicate tribal poverty and destroy the support base of Naxals is a flawed argument given by some. It is not likely to happen. Considering the socio-cultural fabric of the tribal society here, development may even deepen the process of alienation of Naxals," Mahesh Prasad Chintamani, a professor of history here, said.

The more radical ones feel that the government should either make them come to table for talks or completely wipe them out.

Meanwhile, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram has advised the governments of Naxal-affected states to work together and coordinate their strategies to dismantle Naxalism.

"We will not give them any place. Till we have the last drop of blood in our body we will aggressively fight against terrorism and Naxalism and assure you that we would bring them totally under control in two to three years," Chidambaram said last week.

Source: Xinhua


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