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The Rediff Special/Prakash Chandra Hota in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh
Naxals push Chhattisgarh into crisis
May 24, 2005
The three-decade-old Naxalite movement in Chhattisgarh might not have made it a 'Naxal-garh,' but their activities have pushed the mineral-rich state into a severe crisis.
"The situation is nothing but worse now as the Naxalites have a dominance over the local administration in many parts and are involved in more violent activities," a top police officer told PTI.
The Maoist problem is not only affecting economic activities in the state but also forcing it to adopt an imbalanced model of growth because of the presence of Naxalites in a majority of the mineral-rich pockets of Chhattisgarh.
"One should think why Naxalites are active in those areas, which are full of minerals or other rich resources," Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma asked. Maoists are sitting over rich minerals, obstructing the development of the state, Karma, industry minister in the previous Congress government, said, indicating the lack of industry in Dantewada, Kanker, Bastar, Kawardha, Balrampur, Sarguja and other Naxal-infested districts.
With over 150 police stations, spread over 10 districts, infested with hyper-Naxal activities, the socio-economic condition has not only been affected but political activities too have been hit in those areas.
When Chhattisgarh was part of Madhya Pradesh, the region was treated as a colony sort of thing and was never in the priority for good governance, because of which Naxalite movements had gained momentum here, Home Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal said.
Many thought the situation would change after the state was formed on November 1, 2000 but the previous Congress government had "done very little" in its three-year tenure because of which Naxal activities had a bearing on both socio-economic as well as political activities, Agrawal, also a prominent BJP leader, told PTI.
In the 1990s, a committee of senior officials had given a report saying, 'Naxalites are running a parallel administration in many parts of Chhattisgrh's Bastar region' and the situation is now worse.
'Who said we are running parallel administration? We have liberated some of our areas through our sustained people's war in the Abujhmad area of Dandakaranya zone (of Bastar region) where we have established people's governance,' a prominent Maoist leader Ayatu told reporters recently in Bastar jungle.
Today, the Naxalites have their only administration in some areas which they called 'liberated zone' where they issue vehicle passes and charge taxes from people for using the roads or staying or doing businesses.
A visit to any Naxal-infested region will give a better picture. The people of the Manpur police station area of Rajnandgaon district told PTI that "after sunset, policemen never venture outside the police station." When asked, Manpur Station House Officer Poyam Khakha admitted the situation has turned worse especially after the police station was looted by Maoists some years back.
In Bastar region, the Maoists are not allowing the Indian Army's Border Road Organisation to construct the 200 km-long national highway between Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The Centre recently expressed its strong displeasure over the state police's failure in providing security to men and machines to complete the work.
In Sarguja, sales tax office people had to leave their inter-state check gates on the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand well before sunset to protect themseleves from Naxalites, admitted sales tax top officials.
South Asia's Maoist WebThe Maoists damaged Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) worth of properties of Hindalco in the Kusumi mines area of Sarguja district on May 8 by razing the buildings and staff quarters among others with the help of Hindalco's bulldozer, thus affecting mining.
Naxals, India's enemy within
In Dantewada, Bastar and Kanker districts, Naxalite activities have affected plucking of tendu leaves at a time when the state was getting good revenue from the production of better quality tendu leaves which are used for making bidis.
Chief Minister Raman Singh admitted Naxalites have stepped up their activities in the state, but said that could be an answer to intensified police operations in the jungles regularly.
"The Naxalites might be calling the shots in some places but no one is more powerful than the State and the rule of law will prevail very soon and Naxalite activities will be curbed in the state. For this, the state government has drafted a force from para-military and also specialised forces from Gujarat," Singh said.