Asserting that Left wing extremism had to be fought politically and ideologically, Communist Party of India MP D. Raja called upon the Union government to rework its strategy in dealing with naxalism, stating that the only way to bring peace was to restore the civil administration and provide justice in tribal areas.
Mr. Raja, who intervened during the Rajya Sabha debate on the recent attack on the CRPF in Chhattisgarh, also came down heavily on the government-sponsored vigilante group, Salwa Judum, which he termed a threat to democratic politics.
He said the State government's failure to give justice had made the problem worse. “The victims of Salwa Judum have not got justice and they have not been given rehabilitation.” Quoting intelligence figures, he said Maoist numbers had swelled by at least 22 per cent since Salwa Judum began.
Condemning the killings of CRPF jawans in the strongest terms, Mr. Raja said the tribal people in Chhattisgarh are today increasingly getting alienated. “In the name of mining operations, in the name of projects, in the name of development they are being evicted from their place of living. The forest wealth is being handed over to the corporate sector and to the MNCs. Neoliberal policies which are imposed on the tribal people of Chhattisgarh have created this kind of situation,” he argued.
He said the Chhattisgarh government had agreed on October 17, 2008 to rehabilitate and compensate villagers whose houses had been burnt down by the Salwa Judum. However, nothing had been done. “The Union government, despite acknowledging in court that Salwa Judum has burnt houses and committed illegal acts, continues to glorify and praise [it]. If you say Left-wing extremism is a threat to parliamentary democracy, Salwa Judum, a non-state player, is also a threat to the democratic politics,” he remarked.
On February 2, 2010, he said, the Supreme Court asked Nandini Sundar, Kartam Joga, Manish Kunjam and other petitioners before it to file a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. “The State government in Chhattisgarh took two weeks to file a response but has not done anything till now.” The main aspects of this rehabilitation plan were to: (a) identify affected persons through survey, (b) hold sittings of district judges in block headquarters, etc., (c) deal with heinous crimes like rape, murder and restore essential services in the villages. All this was to be supervised by a senior retired judge or retired secretary to the Union government, he said.
Responding to Home Minister P. Chidambaram's statement that “human rights activists” should guarantee that Maoists would not again demolish schools the government rebuilds, Mr. Raja asked whether the government was ready to guarantee that “schools will be allowed to run as schools, not as camps of security forces.” School buildings in tribal areas had been taken over by the security forces, he said. “Can [Mr. Chidambaram] assure the nation that school buildings will be used for schooling the children of tribal people?”
Quoting The Hindu report of April 14, 2010, Mr. Raja said the Maoists had indicated that they were ready for a simultaneous ceasefire. “Can the government remain adamant? [The Home Minister] says that if [the Maoists] abjure violence, then only [the government] can speak. But ceasefire or giving up violence has to be a matter agreed upon by two sides.”