EVEN AS Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday called for an aggressive strategy to tackle Maoist violence and directed Maoist-hit states to “take ownership” of operations, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar countered that the Centre cannot just play a “reviewing role” and “throw the ball in the court of states”.
“We have to bring aggression in our policy, there should be aggression in our thinking, aggression in our strategy, aggression in the deployment of security forces, aggression in operations, aggression in bringing development, aggression in road construction… We will have to be cautious that extremely defensive deployment may result in reduction of operational offensive,” said Singh, addressing a conclave of chief ministers and top officers of 10 Maoist-hit states.
The meeting to review the anti-Maoist doctrine comes a fortnight after 25 CRPF personnel were killed in a Maoist attack in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivaj Singh Chouhan did not attend the meeting and were represented by their home ministers or senior officials.
“We have to ensure that the states take ownership in the anti-Naxal operations where Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will cooperate fully,” said Singh. He stressed on “unity of purpose” and spoke of a unified coordination and command to counter Left Wing Extremism (LWE). He said that along with strategic command, a unified command is required at the operational and tactical level.
As many as 12,000 people lost their lives in Maoist violence over the last two decades. Of these, 2,700 were security personnel and 9,300 were innocent people, he said.
“There is a need to find a solution to this problem and the strategy is available and encompassed in the word ‘samadhan’… S for smart leadership, A for aggressive strategy, M for motivation and training, A for actionable intelligence, D for dashboard based KPIs (key performance indicators) and KRAs (key result areas), H for harnessing technology, A for action plan for each threat, N for no access to financing,” said Singh.
In his speech, Nitish said that in a “federal structure, Centre cannot relegate itself to a mere reviewing role by throwing the ball in the court of states for taking effective action to neutralise this threat of Left Wing Extremism which has emerged as a challenge to internal security.”
While he suggested several steps to combat Maoist violence, he added that “if effective steps are to be taken, then mere discussion with state governments will not suffice… the Centre will also need to take concrete steps.”
On blocking Maoists’ access to funds, Nitish said the Bihar government had submitted a proposal to the Centre stating that the power to confiscate property worth up to Rs 5 crore should be extended to an officer of the rank of Inspector General of Police in states also. At present, only the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has such powers under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Nitish also emphasised the need to continue financial grants for the schemes initiated earlier — like the Special Infrastructure Scheme, Integrated Action Plan (IAP), Security Related Expenditure and Modernisation of Police Fund among others.
“In case the Centre decides to discontinue them or reduce grants, that will have a detrimental effect in the fight against LWE. Similarly, imposing the states with 100 per cent financial burden for deployment of central security forces is also devoid of logic. The ultimate objective cannot be achieved if the needs of states are not adequately addressed. Fight against Left Wing Extremism is a joint responsibility of the Centre and State. Therefore the financial burden should also be shared by both,” he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanded more CAPF battalions and inclusion of three districts — Angul, Boudh and Sonepur — in the list of Maoist-affected districts, and Kalahandi in the category of worst-affected district. “I urged upon the Home Minister to provide two more battalions of CAPF to Odisha immediately to undertake effective counter measures against extremism and include the newly-affected districts of central parts of Odisha under Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme, and installation of 518 mobile towers in the Naxal-hit districts,” he said after the meeting.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said almost all the states demanded that the Centre-sponsored security-related schemes should continue. “While demands for additional deployments were also raised, some states like Bihar sought exemption from payment for central forces,” Mehrishi said.
The states also raised related issues like helicopter support for operations and use of modern technology by the state police and the CAPF.