The government is prepared for casualties in a long-running and intensifying battle against deep-rooted Maoist insurgents, affirms Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, saying that 150,000 policemen are being recruited to build up pressure that will force them to come for talks.
“It is a long haul. It will take time. Casualties will come. You have allowed Maoists to take deep roots. But we have no doubt that we will defeat them,” Mr. Pillai told IANS, days after the guerrillas in yet another attack bombed a bus , killing over 30 civilians and special police officers in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, the heart of the leftwing insurgency.
The attack came some 40 days after their deadliest strike left 76 security personnel dead April 6 in the same region of mineral-rich central India where Maoists have grown for decades and claim to be championing the cause of the country’s rural dispossessed, including tribal groups that rank among the poorest in the country.
“I think the April 6 was the one-off incident of violation of norms, carelessness (on part of security personnel). We are daily catching and arresting (them), not in big numbers though. That is why they are reacting. They have started feeling the pressure and will continue that,” said the home minister’s closest lieutenant, seated in his North Block office.
He said the government was committed to its dialogue offer and was even ready to halt its operations against Maoists if they agree to talk and solve any problem they feel tribal groups were facing.
“Stop the violence. No violence from you, no operation from us... then let’s discuss. But they don’t want that.”
So what is the government’s plan of action after Maoists have repeatedly spurned the talks offer?
“We will continue building up the pressure. All militant groups will come for talks only when they get under pressure. Today they are not under that much pressure yet. But that will come,” Pillai told IANS.
Are there any weaknesses on part of the government? Mr. Pillai says yes.
“We are short of manpower. Manpower is being built up. We are recruiting 150,000 policemen, 60,000 of them in naxal (Maoist)-affected areas. When 60,000 more people will come, each police station will have 30-40 policemen. Today there are 3-4 policemen in a police station. It is a slow but steady process.
“But within two years we will turn the tide against Maoists,” he said.