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August 21, 2011

Page: 17/42

Home > 2011 Issues > August 21, 2011

Anti-naxal operations
Mamata-Maoist hobnobbing

By Brigadier Arun Bajpai (Retd)

RECENTLY the Director Generals of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa Police having common border with West Bengal complained the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that the new CM of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, unilaterally halted the anti-naxal operations in her state. If this is the way states start functioning on issue of terror, then God helps this country.

The CPM which has been upstaged in recently held elections by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress with a thumping majority has been saying all along that Mamata has a soft corner for the naxals. Mamata after becoming the CM of West Bengal has suspended the anti-naxal operations going on in the state and has appointed a six-member civil society team to talk to the Maoists. May be that Mamata wants to try a different approach to deal with this menace, which today has emerged as a major threat to the internal security and integrity of the country but can this be justified specially when people in neighbouring states are getting killed in naxal originated terror?

The biggest mistake, which our founding fathers who prepared Indian Constitution have made, was they copied the Colonial Government of India Act, 1935 in toto on Centre-State relations placing public order and police under state jurisdiction. To that extent Mamata Banerjee’s action is technically correct. Nevertheless having stopped anti-naxal operations in her state, now these Maoists carry out their terror activities in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand and then revert back to the safe havens in West Bengal.

This situation is akin to what India is facing against Pakistan in Kashmir and the American troops are facing in Afghanistan against Pakistan. This is morally wrong and will damage our internal security in a big way in the time to come. Then what happens if other states also stop listening to Centre and start behaving this way? It is these shenanigans of our netas, which have resulted in naxal strongholds increasing in the country from 19 districts earlier to 60 now, spanning seven states and 40 per cent of Indian land mass. This despite the much tom tomed operation Green Hunt launched by Centre against Maoists supposedly in full swing.

It is a fact that despite rising trend of terror, both of naxal and Jehadi kind, our internal security remains dysfunctional. Centre today has no statutory role in internal security except for providing the States additional central paramilitary forces. Offences like terror and interstate crimes are not bound by state boundaries. As a result most of the time, against terror, we are reactive and not proactive. The biggest shield against terror, the local actionable specific intelligence, also remains poor.

Realising this, in 2001 the then NDA Government recommended a change by placing direct responsibility of terrorism and interstate crimes on Ministry of Home Affairs. However nothing happened and things remained where they were till 26/11 Mumbai horror took place.

This current action of West Bengal government highlights the fact that the regional politicians of India are more interested in their own area then what is good for the country. The thrust of the anti-naxal operations should be to hit hard, liberate and hold the area and then develop. The bureaucracy must be held on tight leash and corruption is dealt with a heavy hand.

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