Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said solution to internal security threat does not lie merely in weeding out Naxals in security operations. Ramesh had called a group of Gandhians and activists working in Naxal-affected areas here to take home an 11-point charter of measures for implementation.
The meeting was chaired by Sarva Seva Sangh president Radhabahan Bhat and held at the Nai Talim premises in the Gandhi Ashram here.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has dubbed Naxalism the biggest internal security threat to India,but that doesnt mean the solution lies in weeding Naxals out by just security operations. We need sensitive security operations,development,a vigorous political process and justice for people in affected parts, Ramesh said setting the agenda. My ministrys main effort is to focus on development of Naxal-affected areas.
While Ramesh jotted down many suggestions for possible implementation and also concurred with activists on many contentious issues like making gram sabhas permission compulsory for land acquisition and mining lobby pressure on tribal resources,he categorically supported electoral democracy as the most potent weapon for change. We cant co-opt you,but we can hear you. Criticise if you think the government is doing anything wrong,but the government also does a few good things. Like the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Please acknowledge them too, he said.
He pitched for early justice for tribals languishing in jail on flimsy charges and raising a strong critical mass of legal support for them,but warned the activists not to involve the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) into it.
While activist from Gadchirolis famous self-ruled Mendha-Lekha village Mohan Hirabai Hiralal emphasised strengthening the consensus-driven institution of gram sabha while listing the failures of the elected institution of gram panchayat,Ramesh acknowledged the importance of gram sabha and assured to fund it from his ministry,but also warned against belittling gram panchayat.
While an activist spoke of capitalist design,Ramesh observed,Gandhi wasnt opposed to capital. In fact,this ashram itself is founded on the capital donated by late Jamnalal Bajaj.
Later talking to a select group of journalists,Ramesh said,I am not here to initiate a dialogue with Naxals. I wish to use the activists as better facilitators of schemes for tribals.