Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Wednesday advocated a concerted national strategy to combat the naxal menace and made a fervent plea that the country must rise above the constriction that Naxalism was the concern of any single State.

Mr. Singh was speaking at a meeting of Chief Ministers of the Naxalite-affected States, specially convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said there was no alternative, except armed response to the Naxalite violence as naxals were against the Indian Constitution, democracy, poor people and development.

On initiating a dialogue with Naxalites, he said it was part of their strategy to pressure for talks without laying down arms.

“We must, however, act according to the values and practices of democratic polity. It will not serve any purpose to hold the talks until Naxalites express faith in the Constitution and adopt democratic means.''

The Chief Minister said Naxalites have to be fought in a “spirit of political consensus and social cooperation.'' He claimed that they were taking the help of certain “human rights activists and pseudo intellectuals for propagating their agenda.''

Naxals had “wantonly destroyed'' public property and facilities such as roads, rail tracks, power lines, hospitals, schools, buses and passenger vehicles, worth billions or rupees.

“They have mercilessly killed the forest-dwellers and general public. It is also clear that their intentions are to eventually usurp power in Delhi,'' he said.

On reports that the mineral-rich areas in Bastar in his State were being given away to multinational companies, he asserted that not even a kg of iron ore was taken away by them.

“The fact is that of the 40,000 sq. km of Bastar division, only 1 per cent of the area has been given for mining and, this too to the public sector companies such as the NMDC, SAIL and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation.''

According to intelligence reports of the State machinery, he said, the Dandakarnaya special zonal committee of Maoists had seven divisions and 32 area committees, under which 50,000 Naxal and Jan-militia cadres were engaged in waging a war against the country's democratic set-up.

Bastar as base area

More than 40 per cent of the encounters in the country with Maoists took place in Bastar.

“Naxalites are trying to make Bastar their base area. They have formed a battalion and now they are working to form a brigade.''

The Chief Minister said the State government was recruiting 3,000 to 4,000 police personnel every year. Last year, about 6,700 personnel were recruited and the number of recruitments would be 4,000 this year.

With the Union government's support, he said, three Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorist schools were being opened within a month.

“It is our estimate that at least 10 more battalions are urgently required for fighting Naxalites.''

He said Naxalism and terrorism were just “two faces of the same coin'' and a “decisive battle'' against them was necessary to eliminate this terror from the State and the country.

Biggest battle

“Chhattisgarh is engaged in the biggest battle against Naxalites. We all know very well that there is no alternative except to armed response to the Naxalite violence.''

He said 119 Naxalites were killed in the State and this was the highest in the country.