Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Tuesday that there had been no demand from the naxals for swapping prisoners for the police inspector who was abducted and beheaded in Jharkhand.
“If the naxals have any demand they should place their demand. But cold-blooded murder is simply not acceptable. I condemn it,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram was reacting to reports that the naxals wanted the release of Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy in exchange for police inspector Francis Induwar, who was kidnapped on September 30. Induwar’s body was found on Tuesday morning at Raisha Ghati, about 12 km from Ranchi.
“The State DGP has told me that there was no demand for a swap of prisoners. Besides, we are governed by the rule of law and prisoners are under the custody of court. We cannot swap prisoners with those who are outside the purview of law, who take the law in their hands,” he said.
Support for State police
Asked whether the killing had come ahead of a full-fledged crackdown against Maoists planned by the Centre, he said: “We have not announced anything, we have not said anything. These are media speculation. All that we have said is that following our assessment that the naxalite threat is a grave threat to internal security, the Centre will provide support to the State police forces to continue their operations against the Maoists.”
Delivering the sixth Nani Palkhivala lecture in Mumbai on Monday night on ‘The Emerging Challenges to Civil Society,’ Mr. Chidambaram also dwelt at length on naxalism and terrorism, saying naxals should win power through elections.
“If the naxalites accuse the elected governments of capitalism, land grabbing, exploiting and displacing the tribal people and denying rights of forest-dwellers, what prevents them from winning power through elections and reversing the current policies and putting in place policies that they think will benefit the people? We have not heard a logical answer to these questions — not from the naxalites, not from left-leaning intellectuals and certainly not from human rights groups that plead the naxalite cause ignoring the violence unleashed by the naxalites on innocent men, women and children. Why are the human rights groups silent?”
Mr. Chidambaram reiterated that the government did not view the confrontation with naxalites as a war against them. “The naxalite leaders and cadres are Indian citizens. The poor tribals and non-tribals they mislead are also Indian citizens. No government of a civilised country will wage war against its own people. What we ask is that the naxalites should abjure violence.”
Dubbing the pro-development claim of naxalites as “hollow.” he said that this year alone the naxalites had unleashed 183 violent attacks on targets such as railway tracks, telephone towers, power plants, mines, school buildings and panchayat bhavans.
West Bengal condemns incident
Kolkata Special Correspondent reports:
The West Bengal government on Tuesday condemned the killing of Francis Induwar.
Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said, “Nothing great can be achieved by beheading someone.”
The Maoists are committing such acts in West Bengal too, he added.
The Chief Minister’s Secretariat dismissed, as totally untrue, a report in a local newspaper quoting Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as having told Maoist leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji that he was forced to give consent to the joint operation against the rebels in Lalgarh, at the instance of the Centre.
A release by his Secretariat said: “There is no question of contacting that person either by telephone or other means.”