Admitting to command and control failure in the Dantewada massacre of 76 CRPF jawans, Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that he had asked the inquiry committee headed by E.N. Rammohan to fix responsibility from top to bottom.

“I have asked the probe team to pinpoint the failures from the Assistant Commandant level right up to the Home Minister's level. The report will be submitted by April 25 and I will share the contents of the report with the House,” Mr. Chidambaram said, replying to the debate on the massacre.

The Minister ruled out the use of the Army and the Air Force in the naxal-affected areas but said the government was examining whether a special force could be used to supplement the paramilitary forces.

“The use of aircraft could be considered for surveillance, logistics and evacuation.”

Not ruling out the possibility of peace and dialogue, the Home Minister said while he was willing to be advised for course correction on tackling the naxal issue, “the challenge had to be met squarely and we have to fight the menace fearlessly.”

He said: “Let the naxals abjure violence and express their willingness to hold talks. The State and the Central governments will do the needful. Issues like socio-economic development cannot be overlooked, but the fact can't be denied that naxalism is a law and order problem and has to be dealt without fear.

“I am determined to continue providing leadership to the Home Ministry and the paramilitary forces. I am determined to provide assistance to the States to fight the menace,” the Minister said, amid thumping of desks by both Congress and BJP members.

Responding to Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley's remarks that the Home Minister did not have support from his own party members, Mr. Chidambaram said: “My party and the UPA are totally united in the fight against naxals. You will not succeed in trying to divide my party.”

Mr. Jaitley was referring to Congress MP K. Keshava Rao's newspaper interview, supporting senior party leader Digvijay Singh's disapproval of the handling of the issue by Mr. Chidambaram.

AICC resolution

The Home Minister insisted that his anti-naxal policy was in sync with the 2006 All-India Congress Committee resolution which had stated that the issue had to be addressed as a serious law and order problem with an underlying socio-economic process.

In his clarification, Mr. Rao said the Dantewada incident was just a symptom and there was a need to look at the disease (lack of development). He said that for the party, social order was important and law and order comes when social order was threatened.

“We are a robust democracy. We must allow various shades of opinion and it is the government which has to evolve a policy,” Mr. Chidambaram said, referring to attacks by the Opposition which said the Congress was not united on the issue of tackling naxalism.

In his intervention, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), in an apparent reference to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, alleged that an ally of the UPA and a Union Cabinet member had boycotted the meetings convened by the West Bengal government and the debates in both Houses of Parliament on the issue. To this Mr. Chidambaram said, “Mr. Yechury's problem with an ‘unnamed antagonist' would be resolved in 12 months from now politically,” apparently referring to the Assembly polls in West Bengal next year.

Replying to a point made by Brinda Karat (CPI-M) that her party cadres were being killed by Maoists, he said cadres of more than one party were being killed in West Bengal and he had taken up the issue with the Chief Minister to see that inter-party clashes were put to an end.

“We have not swerved from this path. Our policy remains the same. It is a serious law and order problem. We will talk, we will act, we will restore law and order and we will bring development in those areas,” Mr. Chidambaram said.