New Delhi/Ranchi, June 27: If one of his predecessors P. Chidambaram had a two-pronged strategy to deal with Naxalites, present Union home minister Rajnath Singh has a four-pronged one.
In what is claimed to be a revised strategy to tackle Naxalism and reduce it to “insignificant levels”, Singh has unveiled a four-pronged approach in a meeting with chief secretaries and DGPs of 10 affected states, including Jharkhand.
In the Centre’s assessment of states, Jharkhand and Bihar have fared “poorly”. Odisha and Maharashtra were marked “best”. Chhattisgarh, with Maoist hotbed in Bastar, has “scope for improvement”.
Revealing the government’s preference for a hard-nosed approach of “go, get them”, the home minister is understood to have said: “We can’t initiate talks.” Talks will be held only if rebels shun violence and promise cooperation, the high-level delegation was told.
Singh’s four prongs, with caveats on negotiations, include security and development on which the UPA government has focused. In addition, Singh told state officials that entitlement for tribals by giving them land pattas and “perception management” should also become cornerstones.
Although the latter two were part of the method Chidambaram followed as home minister, Singh appeared to have buttressed their importance for security and development. The Centre is considering relaxing norms for tribals to get land pattas in forests.
Perception management has been re-visited as a component of the anti-Naxalite strategy with more funds on the way for “weaning away young people” from the CPI(Maoist) and splinter groups.
Development in Naxalite-hit states, particularly administration through capable officials and construction of roads, has been a challenge. “The home minister said young, bold and courageous district magistrates and SPs may be posted in the initial years of career in these areas for better administration and leadership,” a ministry spokesperson said.
The Centre is likely to “micromanage” construction of roads to speed up development.
Singh lent a push to the previous government’s plan for “special forces” in states. “We want to develop special forces to fight Naxalites on a par with Greyhounds for Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha entirely funded by Centre,” an official said.
Jharkhand was represented by acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty, home secretary N.N. Pandey and DGP Rajeev Kumar.
Jharkhand apart, other states, whose representatives attended the meeting, were Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal.
“To combat Naxalism, Jharkhand holds much importance as it shares borders with Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” senior security adviser in the Union ministry of home affairs K. Vijay Kumar, who also took part in the meeting, said.
Kumar, who visited Jharkhand early this week and met top officials, told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview then that they were working to redeploy and consolidate central paramilitary forces as an offensive strategy. At present, Jharkhand has 22 CRPF and two SSB battalions.
Though Kumar said rebel attacks had reduced in Jharkhand, the Centre earlier dubbed Jharkhand the worst LWE-hit state of 2013, citing 383 instances of violence and 150 deaths. Data compiled by home ministry up to May 31, 2014 suggests violence levels this year in all LWE-hit states stayed the same as last year.