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Naxalism single biggest internal security challenge: PM

Source: PTI
April 13, 2006 18:17 IST
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Calling it the "single biggest internal security challenge," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday suggested setting up of joint unified commands in areas badly hit by Naxalism and dedicated wings of grey hounds on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh to tackle the menace.

He also suggested a two-pronged strategy of effective police response and socio-economic development of the Naxal-affected areas be given high priority. "It would not be exaggeration to say that the problem of Naxalism is the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country," Dr Singh said while addressing a day-long meeting in New Delhi of chief ministers of six states, severely hit by Naxalism.

He also met chief ninisters of Naxal-hit states at his residence in the morning. Asking states to consider undertaking joint operations and setting up of joint unified commands in the badly-affected core areas, Dr Singh said the police action needed to be backed by liberal surrender and rehabilitation policy.

He favoured setting up of dedicated anti-Naxal wings under capable officers on the pattern of grey hounds of Andhra Pradesh. The prime minister also talked about a pro-active approach to deal with the menace saying there should be measures for protecting policemen from undue harassment for action taken against Naxalites. However, he also added that an effective police response does not mean that we need to brutalise the Indian state.

The meeting was attended by the chief ministers of Orissa, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Union ministers of home, tribal affairs and Panchayati Raj, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, national security advisor and senior government officials from Centre and state governments.

Discussing the overall scenario in the affected states and the increasing intensity of Naxal violence, the states unanimously agreed to pursue a long term multi-pronged approach and strategy to combat the Naxalite menace simultaneouly on political security and development fronts.

The menace of Naxalism was a threat to democracy and there was no place for violence in a democratic set-up, the meeting resolved.

Dr Singh expressed concern over the changing character of Naxalism into militarisation with "superior army style organisation, better trained cadres, attacks on large targets through large scale frontal assaults, better coordination and possible external links. We must recognise that such extremism is a threat to our democracy, our way of life," he said.

Emphasising the need to strengthen the local police on all fronts, Dr Singh said they needed to be "better trained and equipped to face an enemy who is evolving into a major force. We need to improve their weapons, buildings and vehicles. We need to invest heavily in their capabilities."

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