Prasanna Mohanty | February 1, 2010
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister speaks about the Maoist menace.....
In an exclusive interview with Governance Now Deputy Editor Prasanna Mohanty, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh says the Maoist menace can be tackled by the judicious use of force and development work. Below are some excerpts on key issues:
Q: Why is the administration finding it so tough to contain Maoists?
Singh: It isn’t a problem of one state. When they are attacked in Andhra Pradesh, the Maoists cross-over to Chhattisgarh. The Central government never focused on it as a national problem. Had we started an integrated action plan -- involving paramilitary forces to fight the menace while employing Border Road Organisation and other agencies in development work, including grant of Forest Rights to tribals -- ten years back, it would have been solved by now.
Q: Why is there no coordination among various Maoist-affected states?
Singh: It is now that the West Bengal government is realizing the gravity of the situation when it is faced with a big challenge. As far as other states are concerned, we are working with them on different strategies (to fight the Maoist menace) for quite some time.
Q: What are the difficulties in the battle against Maoists?
Singh: Our security forces are moving forward slowly. Police are meant for policing, not fighting guerrilla wars. We are now training them in Kanker (a Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College set up in 2005). It is a time-consuming affair. We will do development work once the force moves in to the area (of Maoist influence).
Q: How much fund are the Maoists generating and what are the sources?
Singh: They are generating about Rs 300 to 400 crore a year. This is from extortion. Everyone -- industries, mining companies, tendu leaf traders, PWD officials and everyone who operates in the state -- are paying the Maoists.
Q: Do you get complaints?
Singh: Nobody complains. Jis truck ko roz jaana hai woh complain nahin karega. Karega to complain karne ke laayak nahin rahega (Every truck that operates here daily will not complain. And if they do, they won’t be spared).
Q: How do you intend to end this extortion business?
Singh: The only solution is to finish off the Maoists, through use of force, development work and surrender policy, etc.
Q: Are you going to disband Salwa Judum given the criticism from the Supreme Court and the Union Home Minister’s disapproval of arming civilians?
Singh: We didn’t create it. It’s a natural phenomenon against the Maoist violence. It means ‘peace march’. It is a movement for peace. The Maoists are cowards, they use civilians as shields and so civilians get killed (during gun battles with security forces).
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