Discuss funding plan to make Home Ministry play larger role in fighting Maoists

A day after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) failed to arrive at a consensus on deploying the armed forces against Naxalites, three senior Ministers on Friday met to discuss the financial implications of a strategy that could envisage greater role for the Home Ministry in meeting the Maoist menace.

Highly placed sources said the discussions among the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A. K. Antony remained inconclusive.

After the massacre in April of 75 CRPF personnel at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, the Home Ministry has been under pressure to perform and take tough, effective action against Maoists, who were targeting civilians, trains, buses and security personnel.

As both the Army and the Air Force have expressed their inability to take part in anti-Maoist operations, citing their preoccupation with not only guarding the borders, but also performing anti-insurgency duties in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast, the Home Ministry has sought more resources to strengthen the central forces and State police forces.

Wish list

A senior official of the Ministry said the Ministry of Defence would only “render assistance'' in training the central forces and police personnel to take on Maoists. As the Army and the Air Force were reluctant to spare men and material such as helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, the Ministry is reportedly preparing a wish list of such items to be procured on its own. The list would be put before the next CCS meeting, he said.

To make for the short supply of trained personnel, particularly in anti-mining and other fields, the Ministry, through the paramilitary forces, would embark on a special drive to recruit ex-Servicemen.

The official hinted at the greater involvement of the Naxal violence affected States in this entire process. They would be given the lead in launching anti-naxal operations and asked to take extra measures on the development front.

Indications are that the CCS may invite the Chief Ministers of these States to elicit their views on tackling the Maoist challenge.

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