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New anti-Naxalite strategy sought

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Raman Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Raman Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

Maoists have switched to mobile warfare, says Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh

NEW DELHI: The sophistication demonstrated by Maoists in the use of IEDs suggests that they could have links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba and there was an urgent need to review the strategy to deal with this “biggest terror threat,” Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said here on Wednesday.

Arriving here two days after a second deadly attack took the lives of about 40 civilians and special police officers when a bus carrying them was blown apart by an Improvised Explosive Device, Mr. Singh said he had sought time with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram, So far he had no problems with the Centre, he added.

The left-wing extremist guerrillas had changed their strategy to “mobile warfare” and the Centre must prepare a plan for an effective counter offensive, he told journalists here on Wednesday. The State police, he admitted were poorly equipped and poorly trained. As against a requirement of some 55 policemen for every 100 sq. km. of territory, the State had only 17. In fact, in every infrastructure sector Chhattisgarh was far behind the national average, with just 33 per cent of railway lines, roads, schools and hospitals. This, he said, was because of poor infrastructure inherited when the State was created out of the larger Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

He denied that the State had given away mining leases to private companies and contractors and that had alienated the Adivasis. He claimed there was no problem of displaced people in his State and the mining was almost entirely being done by the National Mineral Development Corporation, by the State government's Mineral Corporation and by the Steel Authority of India.

In the last 10 years, 1000 civilians and 650 policemen had been killed. Electricity towers and schools had been targeted by the Maoists and the Naxals were showing better skills in using IEDs with deadly effect and accuracy. This, he said, could not be the handiwork of Adivasis. He feared the Maoists may have established links with the LeT.

He said he was in favour of “air support” for logistics but not for “bombing” or attack on Naxal-dominated areas which could result in hurting the local population.

He criticised statements from Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh and “other people” who were “weakening” the fight against Naxals. In his mind there was no doubt that the Maoists were “terrorists” and should be dealt with as such.

Later, meeting a handful of reporters, he admitted the State government does share responsibility with the Centre for recent failures. The Central forces were deployed under the control of the State government with the Superintendent of Police and the Inspector General working with them on the spot. “They work under us. The State government is in command.”


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