New Delhi, April 16: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today warned that Maoists remained a formidable threat and cautioned against a “protracted people’s war” as the government underlined the threat the rebels posed to internal security at a conference with chief ministers.
The call for “constant vigilance” came after Union home minister P. Chidambaram had spoken against the dangers of being lulled by declining casualties and “sub-optimal” results of recent forays by forces.
Late into the evening, the chief ministers of nine most-affected states held a separate meeting where the Centre pushed for a “uniform approach”.
The two-day conference on internal security began this morning, with the government warning of a “more worrying narrative”.
“The adversary’s target is the Indian state and every constituent of the Indian state. In his offensive, the adversary does not recognise state borders. His organisation does not match the states’ territorial jurisdictions. And he makes no distinction between the central government and state governments,” Chidambaram said.
Although the home minister spoke about Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast and the Maoists together, his primary target appeared to be the CPI (Maoist).
Singh took up the Maoist problem first in his inaugural address. “The so-called ‘protracted people’s war’ waged by Left-wing extremists against the state and society continues to target civilians and security forces, and economic infrastructure such as railways, mobile communications and power networks,” the Prime Minister said.
He also talked about “abduction of foreign nationals” by the rebels, a reference to the recent kidnapping of two Italians in Odisha. The two have since been released but not before the state government set free a Maoist leader’s wife.
Chidambaram painted a grim picture, terming the results of a recent drive by joint forces in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand “sub-optimal”.
He warned states that improved statistics shouldn’t give a false sense of assurance. Behind these figures, he cautioned, lay a “more worrying narrative” as “some adversaries” had augmented their weaponry and military capabilities.
The minister said the decline in the number of casualties did not give a true picture. Two of the nine Maoist-affected states — Chidambaram meant Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — were “badly affected”, he said.
He said the results were not to satisfaction, especially in areas under the control of Maoist area or zonal committees operating in Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh, Andhra-Odisha and Dandakaranya.