Parties across the political spectrum on Wednesday agreed that Naxal violence must be stopped with all means at the disposal of state power, but differed in their approach to and understanding of the issues involved.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said alienation of tribals from their land by foreign and Indian mining interests was at the root of the problem, while the Bharatiya Janata Party said misguided human rights activists who sympathised with Naxals must understand that their real aim was not development of tribals, but seizing political power through the barrel of the gun.
Army not to be used
The Congress, as expected, stood firmly with the government and expressed its shock and outrage over Tuesday's killing CRPF jawans in Chhattisgarh. This was not the time to talk about a dialogue with the Naxals, party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said. A CPI (M) Polit Bureau statement said the massacre of 76 policemen in Dantewada was a reminder that no State government could singly tackle the Maoist violence.
With the Maoists conducting major armed operations in seven States, it became the responsibility of the Centre to ensure a coordinated response and provide adequate assistance. In short, the “buck” cannot stop with the Chief Ministers.
“Tribals worst victims”
“At the same time, the Centre should change policies that are harming the rights of tribal people, who are the worst victims of Maoist activity. The Maoists have to be fought politically by mobilising the people against them,” the statement said.
The Maoists were concentrating their activities in the forest areas of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh inhabited by Adivasis where large tracts were being handed over to foreign and Indian companies for mining operations.
“Instead of adopting measures for the socio-economic development of such regions, the Centre's policies are harming tribal interests. The displacement of the tribal people and the loss of their livelihood and habitats are a direct result of policies that are indiscriminately throwing open all these areas for mining operations, legal and illegal,” the statement said.
The BJP spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad, emphasised that the Naxals “neither believe in the idea of India or its Constitution nor in the democratic process.” Their aim “is to seize political power.”
Mistake and myth
It was a mistake and myth to think the Maoists enjoyed popular support, he said, citing statistics from some Naxal-affected districts, where despite the call for boycott of elections, 50-80 per cent people cast their votes.
Mr. Prasad described the Maoists as “anti-tribal” who did not flinch from blowing up roofs of schools and hospitals or destroying roads.
It was a rare occasion when the BJP said it stood solidly with the Home Minister and his government. When Naxals were indulging in mass murders, there should be no question of holding out the olive branch to them, Mr. Prasad said.