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UPA has failed to tackle naxal threat: Rajnath
Subhashis Mittra in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh | April 09, 2006 18:40 IST
Accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of taking a 'casual attitude' towards the Maoist threat, main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday slammed the Congress saying it lacked the commitment and political will to confront the problem frontally.
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"We are dismayed that the UPA government has taken such a casual attitude to the threat. The Maoists have become an impediment to development projects in most backward regions and are running parallel administrations, siphoning money from government funds and extorting from local people," party president Rajnath Singh told reporters, before starting out on the second day of his Bharat Suraksha Yatra in Chhattisgarh.
He alleged the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh had tried to appease the extremists and gave them an opportunity to regroup and rearm themselves. "Today Maoists from Andhra Pradesh even threaten neighbouring states," he said, adding that the Centre had also played host to the top Maoist leadership from Nepal ignoring red-corner Interpol notices against them.
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Questioning the Congress' sincerity in tackling the Maoist problem, the BJP chief said the Centre had not given adequate help and resources to states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa to fight the Maoist.
Warning that the Centre's inaction would prove costly, he suggested a five-point strategy to deal with the problem. He said the issue should be recognised as a national menace and fought unitedly by the Centre and the states. There must be an action plan and a unified command involving the Centre and the states, he said.
Noting that naxalism was an assault on the sovereignty of the country as it was a bid to gain political power with the gun, he said the problem should be treated like an insurgency.
He said since Maoists possessed modern arms, the Centre should pump in more funds for police modernisation and supplement the police and paramilitary forces with the Army. He also favoured that obstacles to tribals getting homestead rights in the forest be removed.
Singh suggested that all political parties and socio-religious organisations should be encouraged to support and enlarge the scope of popular movements like Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. "We believe that people's power can defeat red terror."
The BJP president said his party would observe with keen interest next week's meeting of the prime minister with the chief ministers of naxalite-affected states and urged Manmohan Singh to muster the courage to take decisive steps.
Naxalism posed one of the most important threats to the progress, prosperity and security of the country, he said, adding that at least 150 districts in 16 states were affected while another 35 districts faced direct threats.
Singh said that the problem could not be underestimated as 17 per cent of the country's population lived under the shadow of the Maoist gun. "The magnitude of the problem is apparent when you consider that only three per cent of the population is affected by ethnic and religious insurgency in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir," he said and added that Maoists had made no secret of their intention to establish a 'red corridor' from Kathmandu to Kochi.
Singh later addressed a number of roadside public meetings on his way to Jashpur Nagar in Chhattisgarh district where a halt for the night before resuming his journey on Monday when he will enter Jharkhand.
People in fairly large numbers turned out at the public meetings where he was accorded traditional tribal welcome amid beating of drums.