M A I N   N E W S

Govt favours unified command to tackle Naxals

New Delhi, February 6
The government today favoured the formation of a unified command comprising the Central and state law enforcement agencies to tackle the Naxalite problem.

“The Centre encourages states to form unified commands of their own, under the respective chief ministers, consisting of the state police and central paramilitary forces to deal with the Naxal menace,” Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said.

“We have provided the state police with additional forces and asked them to improve their intelligence network,” he said.

In fact, the Centre has provided 23 battalions of paramilitary forces for tackling Naxal violence in four-five affected states, he said.

Mr Patil said sufficient troop deployment in Naxal-affected regions prevented any major disruption in the first phase of Assembly poll on February 3.

“We supplied forces to the Election Commission who deployed them in the states and, judging by the polling percentages, it has been a satisfactory exercise,” he said.

The Home Minister, however, said a long-term solution to the Naxal menace had to be found on several fronts.

“One has to seek the causes for Naxal violence before looking for remedies,” Mr Patil said, citing economic disparities, social injustice and infrastructural imbalances as factors which may be causing such violence.

“There are a section of extremists who are driven by ideological convictions and believe that democracy cannot provide solutions to their problems,” he said, adding that others may be disgruntled elements who seek an outlet in violence.

There may be still others who wish to serve their vested interests by creating panic, Mr Patil said.

He said the Centre was dealing with the problem in a wholesome manner.

“We have provided Rs 35 crore per district to the affected states for infrastructural development and various schemes for employment generation,” he said.

The Centre has also asked the Planning Commission for special programmes for an accelerated development of these areas, he added.

The Home Minister also asked the forces not to indulge in extra-judicial killings. “There should not be any proxy encounters and an attempt should be made to convince the Naxals to come into the national mainstream,” he said.

Wherever possible, like in Andhra Pradesh, the Centre has encouraged the administration and the extremists to come to the negotiating table to find a solution, he said.

Referring to the situation in the state, Mr Patil said he had been told by the Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy government that it had not pulled out of talks but only asked the Naxals not to move around with arms.

The Home Minister, however, expressed the hope that the situation would be resolved as “people have realised that there can be no development without peace”.

BELGAUM: Karnataka Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Sunday said the Special Task Force (STF) chief would be appointed within a week to tackle the Naxalite menace in some districts of the state. — PTI, UNI

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