In Prime Minister’s words, Naxalism is the biggest internal security threat being faced by India. He is not wrong. Naxals have killed more security personnel and civilians than victims claimed by terrorists and other extremists in North East India put together.
Government has adopted both violent and peaceful strategies to tackle threat posed by naxals. But lately it seems government is keener to follow peaceful strategy of development as a tool to dissuade potent recruits from joining armed struggle in naxal hit areas.
Instead of carrot and stick policy, it appears that more of carrots have been offered lately by the government. But this will not lessen the stain on its hands – security personnel have committed human rights violations in these areas in the past, and this one of the reasons why there is resentment among locals that makes it easy for naxals to recruit men and women to wage armed struggle against the state.
In a meeting conducted by home ministry, officials have been warned to adopt a fair play while dealing with naxals.
As put by TOI:
“The meeting also directed the states and paramilitary forces to take all possible steps to ensure protection of human rights of every individual, while carrying out anti-Maoist operations and countering negative propaganda of the naxals.
The home ministry also asked the states to conduct a thorough probe into allegations of abuse of power by security forces and follow standard operating procedure while dealing with naxals. The states and the Centre are also firming up their policy to counter the negative propaganda of the naxals as they have been trying to garner support among the middle class by raising the issue of human rights.”
Both home ministry and rural development ministry have evolved a sensible approach in past two years to deal with naxalism effectively. Earlier, home ministry was under fire from rights activists and civil society for waging all out war against naxals named ‘operation green hunt’.
Development is the only approach that can eliminate any discontent in the long term. Areas affected by naxalism are some of the most backward regions of India. Take for example KBK region of Orissa and Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, latter region is where top leaders of naxal movement come from.
It was because of lack of basic infrastructure and poor governance which made life miserable for tribals and other poor residing in these regions that this movement grew in monster proportion. Harassment by moneylenders, human rights violations by local police and siphoning off the money intended for local area development by the politicians and officials that made matters worse.
National and state highways through these regions for better connectivity of inaccessible areas for movement of people to access services like healthcare and markets; establishment of schools, anganawadis and primary health centres in these remote areas; supply of electricity to these remote area; efficient PDS for all inhabitants; importantly, implementation of MGNREGA, NRLM; strengthening panchayats, forest committees and bringing land reforms – are some of the measure that needed urgent effective implementation to stop the spread of naxalism. Finally, government has put some mechanism in place for carrying out these measures.
Integrated Action Plan
The Government approved an Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for 60 Selected Tribal and Backward Districts on 25th November, 2010 and Rs. 1500 crore was released under the Scheme in December, 2010.
The IAP has been approved by the Government with a block grant of Rs. 25 crore and Rs. 30 crore per district during 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively for which the funds are to be placed at the disposal of the Committee headed by the District Collector and consisting of the Superintendent of Police of the District and the District Forest Officer.
The Development Commissioner/equivalent officer in charge of development in the State is responsible for scrutiny of expenditure and monitoring of the IAP. Macro-level monitoring of the IAP is to be carried out by the Committee headed by the Member-Secretary, Planning Commission. Also, the audit of the accounts will be done by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
Home ministry has asked government to include 18 more districts and extend this scheme for 12th plan period also. It is said that planning commission wanted to stop further funding the scheme, but at the insistence of rural development ministry it has been continued.
This scheme does not replace KBK plan (Kalahand-Bolangir-Koraput) presently implemented in 8 district of Orissa with an annual allocation of Rs 130 crores. The IAP would also focus on effective implementation of the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
To attract youth in naxal affected areas, government announced that it would employ large number of youth from these regions in government jobs.
According to The Hindu:
Apart from ensuring the immediate appointment of 18,000 panchayat development officers and as many junior engineers, the Centre has drawn up a blueprint to provide jobs to three-lakh youth in the 60 left wing extremist affected districts in the country.
For better implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), Mr. Ramesh has ordered that each panchayat appoint one panchayat development officer and a junior engineer for a period of 10 years from within the district. Non-residents would not be considered for these posts.
All these districts would be covered under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) by March 2013 with the objective of training and providing jobs to three lakh youths over the next five years.
Potable Water and Good Roads
According to The Hindu:
“To ensure availability of potable water, Mr. Jairm Ramesh has earmarked 10 per cent of the Ministry’s annual budget under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) which amounts to Rs.935 crore for these 60 districts. The States would have to bear 15 per cent of the project cost with the Centre footing the rest.
He has also increased the provision under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme from Rs.12,000 per hectare to Rs.15,000 per hectare and approved construction of cement concrete roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana doing away the compulsion of blacktop roads.
The cost of construction of such roads is at least 50 per cent more and the Centre will bear 90 per cent of it. “
In January this year, CM of MP said that IAP has brought positive changes in the naxal affected areas. This is a welcome development, and heartening to hear this from BJP ruled state when funds are coming from Congress ruled centre.
At the same time, CM of MP asked centre to include some even districts of MP in the Security Related Expenditure Scheme. This scheme was introduced in 1999 to fund states for their anti naxal programs such as compensation amount to victims, rehabilitation package to surrendered naxals, cost of training given to state police etc. Presently this scheme is in place in 83 districts of 9 states.
One should remember PM Manmohan Singh’s words when it comes to implementation of such schemes meant for poor people. It is in the implementation that time and again governments have failed. He had said:
“……..to be persuasive we must be believable, to be believable we must be credible, to be credible we must be truthful. As administrators we must have zero tolerance towards corruption. Development programmes have to be delivered with complete honesty,”
Naxalism is an internal security matter and is not just a law and order problem also – it has grown into a big headache for both people and government. But its roots lie in deep discontent that apathy of government bred towards poor tribes of these regions. Only through addressing those problems it is possible to stop the further spread of left wing extremism. Whenever naxals indulge in violence, and obstruct development works being implemented, government must deal with sternly but as home ministry warned officials, without violating standard operation methods.