There is an urgent need to relook the policy dealing with Maoists, says Union Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh

Maintaining that there would be no talks with Maoists until they gave up violence, the Centre on Tuesday said it would step up its anti-Naxal operations in States affected by Left-Wing Extremism.

Pointing out that the last six months had seen Maoists’ “barbarism” reach its peak, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh said there was an urgent need to review the policy on dealing with Naxals.

The Maoists did not have any respect for human rights. There was a need to readdress the policy and there would be more active operations, Mr. Singh told journalists here.

“[The Maoists] did not come forward [when the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram offered to conduct peace talks]… They are not interested in talks or following the democratic process. There will be no talks unless they abjure violence. We will review our strategy to deal with Naxals.”

Giving parties space

Asked about the perception of growing threat to political leaders from Naxals in light of Saturday’s attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh, the Minister said the government would ensure that activities of political parties were not disrupted by extremists. Standard operating procedures would be framed for political parties and the movement of party leaders, Mr. Singh said, adding: “We will ensure that political parties have their space without any disruption. We will ensure that such violence [does] not take place in future. SoPs have to be adhered to.”

Mr. Singh said that the government would also review the policy of giving development funds to LWE-affected States: “In some States, money [has been] lying unutilised for years. There should be [a] mechanism that funds reach the intended district for development without delay and are spent for the benefit of common people.”

Meanwhile, criticising Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for being not being present during a time of “national calamity” for the country in the aftermath of Saturday’s incident, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said: “At a time when so much of commotion is happening, the gentleman there is on a private trip for [the] past four days when [the] rest of the people from the official trip have come back.”

Speaking to journalists, Ms. Lekhi termed the initiation of a probe by the National Investigation Agency into the attack as “superfluous” given that Chief Minister Raman Singh had told Mr. Shinde that Chhattisgarh would be setting up a commission of inquiry.

Mr. Shinde’s absence from North Block continues to be a talking point at the senior government levels. The Minister has been in the U.S. since May 19 for a security dialogue (that took place during May 20-22) and is expected to return only on May 29 as per his itinerary.

Officials, who were part of the delegation, including Home Secretary R.K. Singh, are already back. Official sources said Mr. Shinde had stayed back for a private purpose and there were no official engagements to attend. Interestingly, in Mr. Shinde’s absence, his predecessor and Finance Minister P Chidambaram is said to have been in regular touch with Home Ministry officials following the attack.