Asserting that Maoist violence has no place in democratic India, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Wednesday called upon state governments to work with the Centre in combating this menace.
Addressing a chief ministers conference on internal security in New Delhi, Dr Singh said, "The meeting has been called in the aftermath of a brutal attack on Congress workers in Chhattisgarh. Such violence has no place in democracy."
"The Centre and states need to join hands to ensure that such events do not recur. I have noted from the agenda papers that there is a separate session on Left wing extremism in this conference and I would urge you to make good use of this opportunity to come up with some concrete measures to deal with the very grave threat of Naxalism," he added.
He said that Naxalism had received the Centre's attention for some time now, and they had a two-pronged strategy involving developmental measures and strikes to take on the Maoists.
"I must also emphasise here that the two-pronged strategy that we have followed so far needs to be strengthened and pursued with rigour. Even as we intensify our efforts to strengthen the security and intelligence apparatus in areas affected by Maoist violence, we should be able to ensure that people residing in Left wing extremist affected areas are able to live in an environment of peace and security and derive full benefits of our development efforts," he added.
He further informed that there has been a decrease in number of people who died due to Naxal violence and increase in Naxals who have surrendered.
"We have achieved some successes too. In the last couple of years there has been a substantial reduction in the number of incidents and deaths caused by left wing extremist groups and an increase in the number of Naxalite surrenders. But, major violent attacks by Naxalites like the recent one in Chhattisgarh are setbacks that have occurred periodically. The Centre and states need to work together to eliminate such large-scale attacks," he said.
The chief ministers conference takes place just days after the audacious attack by the Maoists on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district.
Heavily-armed Maoists had on May 25 ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in Bastar district, killing 28 people, including Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, Congress leader Mahendra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudliyar.
Former Union Minister V C Shukla injured in the attack is being treated at a Medanta hospital in Gurgaon. His condition is stated to be critical, but stable.
The PM said the year 2012 saw a significant improvement in the security situation of Jammu and Kashmir. "Our strategy to prevent cross-border infiltration by militants and our intelligence based counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a decline in the level of terrorist violence by about one-third in 2012 as compared to 2011," he said.
"In fact, terrorist violence parameters in 2012 have been the lowest since the upsurge in terrorist activities two decades ago. The record inflow of tourists and pilgrims during 2012 also points to an improved security situation in the state," he added.
According to Dr Singh, the implementation of several infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir is progressing well. "The Himayat and Udaan schemes which aim at providing additional gainful employment to the youth have also achieved a fair measure of success. These are all welcome developments," he added.
Dr Singh, however, informed that the security situation in the northeast continues to be complex, with insurgency, extortion and agitations being the main disruptive elements in the hands of the insurgents. "However, there has been considerable progress in dialogue with several insurgent and ethnic separatist groups in the northeastern region," he said.
"A memorandum of understanding has been signed with both factions of Dima Halam Daogah of Dima Hasao in Assam. Three Metei insurgent groups have signed a memorandum of understanding in February 2013. Talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland are continuing," he added.
He further said that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has been set up as an autonomous body in August 2012 to administer the Gorkhaland region and ensure its all-round development. "The Centre is committed to providing financial assistance of Rs 200 crore per annum for three years for projects aimed at developing the socio-economic infrastructure in the GTA areas," he added.
Image: A policeman holds a burnt weapon at a police camp attacked by Maoist rebels in Silda village, Kolkata | Photograph: Parth Sanyal/Reuters