Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Delhi set to charge the maoist Red rag

Operation Tri-Junction to involve 7,000 commandoes, pramod kumar reports

P Chidambaram is known for maintaining a regular report card of the ministry he is concerned with. More often than not, they reflect the real situation in the ministry. Therefore, it is not surprising that last week during a Cabinet meeting on security, he admitted that in the last three years, Naxalism has made its presence felt in as many as 20 states and 223 districts. Their spread runs through the jurisdiction of nearly 2,000 police stations. Calling it “a matter of grave concern”, the Union home minister also added that it will take anything between 11 and 30 months to considerably lessen their influence. In good measure, while complaining about non-cooperation from certain state governments, he also confirmed the finalisation of a new strategy to deal with this problem. It has been curiously named “Tri-junction”. The strategy includes planned deployment of Central forces in the affected region.

In the meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was of the belief that strong-arm tactics alone will not work in this particular case. There is more to this matter than mere law and order or security, he added. Singh stressed that the Adivasis did not find themselves benefiting from the developmental projects and the trickle down effect has gone missing. This has led to a massive imbalance in the developmental index. He also inquired about the status report on the implementation of the provisions of Forest Rights Law. He was promptly told that the respective state governments did not take the matter as seriously as it was ought to be taken.

For example, as many as 2.5 million tribals from all over the country had asked for ownership right over land. Three years have passed from the day the demand was raised. Only half a million tribals have got ownership rights. The data coming in from West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh is startling and appalling at the same time. The Prime Minister was of the belief that if the state governments implemented the provisions of the law positively, it would help in considerably blunting the angst that tribal have against their respective state governments. It will, at least, make them view their governments as non-hostile entities. A meeting of all chief ministers has been called to discuss the nuances of the matter as also the roadblocks in the implementation process.

According to the minister of state at the PMO, Prithviraj Chauhan, the PM has directly intervened in matters concerning escalating incidents of violence by the Maoists. Talking to TSI, Chauhan stressed that on the matter of Maoism, the PM advocated a clear-cut strategy that is two-pronged. “He has made it amply clear that only policing won’t do and we need to make sure that tribals benefit from development. If tribals are happy, it will become extremely difficult for Maoists to lure them,” he said.

As far as the Centre is concerned, it has kickstarted the “Tri-Junction” programme which will include intense combing of the Naxalite-affected areas of Andhra-Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh, Orissa-Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh and West Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa. Apart from the 40,000-odd personnel of Central forces, as many as 7,000 commandoes, specially trained by the Army in jungle warfare, will be deployed.

Heeding the special demand by the state governments, the Union home ministry has agreed on a sum of Rs 153 crore that will be used for modernisation of police forces. Chidam-baram has suggested to the chief ministers of West Bengal and Orissa to ask the Maoists to first renounce arms and then come forward for talks.

Former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has also sent some suggestions to the PMO, citing his prior experience as a chief minister. The suggestions include amendment in the Forest Act of 1927 that will allow tribals to put their trees as mortgage items against loans. Another suggestion is amendment in the Mining Act of 1957 that will allow a share to the real owner, apart from the royalty rights of the current owners. Third and the most important is the change in the Land Acquisition Act that will assure regular monthly payment for few years to the tribals whose land are acquired. This is besides the lump sum payment they will receive as compensation. Talking to TSI, Singh confirmed that the Prime Minister has taken his suggestions positively and has forwarded it to the ministry concerned. Singh also stressed on strengthening of local bodies in the tribal belt.

On the other hand, CPM’s Mohammad Salim says that it will be callous to single out the West Bengal government for a dressing down. According to him, these incidents stem out of disenchantment and all the state governments have to work closely to deal with the situation.

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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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