Decorated police officers have admitted that the Maoists problem in the country is mainly because of years of deprivation and injustice to tribal and poor populations of rural India, and hence needs to be handled sensitively.
This view was shared by Mr. K. Vijay Kumar, the former Director General of Central Reserve Police Force, and Mr. Mahendra Kumawat, former Director General of the Border Security Force. These officers had led successful campaigns against Maoists, Vijay Kumar in Chattisgarh and Kumawat in Andra Pradesh.
They were speaking at a discussion on "State Response to Left Wing Extremism: A Report Card" organised b y Observer Research Foundation, a multi-disciplinary think tank.
Mr. Vijay Kumar, who led his force in one of India's biggest campaign against Maoists with deployment of more than 80,000 policemen and achieved major successes, said the Naxalites problem should be handled with "little more sensitivity".
"If we handle this issue with much more sensitivity, I think, we will be able to make much more impact," Mr Vijay Kumar said. "There is a possibility for blending more development and security efforts," he added.
"If integrated action plans are sustained, if those people are given little more assurances of the dividends of progress, I think, things will turn around," Mr Kumar, who had also successfully led the task force against dacoit Veerappan in Tamil Nadu, said.
He pointed out that because of lack of special powers to the force who are fighting this problem, which was described by the prime minister as independent India's greatest challenge, the forces are facing some difficulty as the Naxalites keep moving from State to State.
Mr Kumawat, who led the Greyhounds against Maoists in Andhra Pradesh, said the problem was created because of betrayal of the people by each government, from the very first government since independence. Despite promise of development to them, except every one else - be it politician, bureaucrat, police officer -- developed but the tribals remained as they were.
He said a special force is needed to tackle this problem effectively besides making tribals stakeholders in the development and reducing the gulf between the rich and poor.
Governance Now Editor B V Rao faulted lack of proper governance for the problem. He said though the government recognised this as a great challenge nearly a decade ago, even now the prime minister was unable to lead a comprehensive campaign by all his ministries, even in Saranda where one Union Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, is fighting it almost alone. (ANI)