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Maoists are not biggest security threat: Shivraj

Shivraj Patil
Shivraj Patil

New Delhi, February 16
A day after 14 persons were killed by Maoist rebels in a major offensive in Orissa, home minister Shivraj Patil today denied that Left wing extremism was the single biggest security challenge to the country.

“I don’t think it (Maoist violence) so. Now, don’t ask me to comment on my colleagues or what the Prime Minister said. You asked me for my opinion and I will give you my opinion,” Patil told CNN-IBN’s “Devil’s Advocate” in an interview.

Patil’s statement flies in the face of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s repeated assertions on many forums that the Maoists posed the single biggest security challenge to India and even exhorted chief ministers at a recent conference to cripple their rebellion with all means at their command.

“Not a day passes without an incident of Left wing extremism taking place somewhere or the other. There also seems to be a consolidation of various groups with better coordination and strike capabilities,” Manmohan Singh told chief ministers at a conclave on internal security in December last year.

“I have said in the past that the Left wing extremism is the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so, and we cannot rest in peace till we have eliminated this virus,” he said.

During the interview, Patil said there had been an overall improvement in states affected by the Left extremism except for Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

Referring to the surge in violence in both Chhattisgarh, the epicentre of Maoist violence, and Jharkhand, Patil said the non-availability of infrastructure and the terrain were factors responsible for the increased attacks.

“We (union government) are doing whatever possible to help states affected by this violence. Almost 37,000 policemen have been detailed by the Centre and deployed in Naxalite (Maoist) affected states. In Chhattisgarh alone, we have provided 17,000 men,” said Patil.

Patil also revealed that the government wanted to make constitutional changes to give itself special powers to handle Maoist violence, but the opposition BJP as well as other parties refused to accept such amendments.

Although the number of violent incidents blamed on the Maoists fell from 1,509 in 2006 to 1,285 until October 31, 2007, the number of security personnel killed by them rose from 157 last year to 188 until the end of October 2007. — IANS




The last supper

Nayagarh (Orissa), February 16
A pack of playing cards strewn on the floor, upturned blood-splattered furniture, bullet marks on the walls and scattered footwear at the Recreation Club for policemen were the grim reminders of the audacious attack by the Naxals on a police barrack here.

Six of the 14 persons killed by the Maoists in this district headquarters town last night were mowed down in the barracks.

“Everybody had his dinner and some of the policemen were playing cards at the recreation club when the Naxals rushed in from all sides,” a numbed Biswambar Tripathy, cook at the police barrack, told a visiting PTI correspondent.

The ultras opened fire indiscriminately hardly providing any opportunity for the police to retaliate. They shot dead four guards posted at the district armoury and two who were at the recreation club.

The police said the mini-bus used by the Maoists along with a truck had been found abandoned near Surada in neighbouring Ganjam district. — PTI



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