Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fix root causes: Dantewada report author to Government

New Delhi : The man the Home Ministry chose to inquire into the killing of 76 CRPF personnel by Naxalites in Dantewada last month has a very different opinion of the Naxal problem than that of the Ministry or Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Former BSF Director General E N Rammohan, who submitted his inquiry report to Chidambaram, today said the government must address the "root causes" of the Naxal problem without which counter-insurgency operations would not be successful.

Delivering the annual K F Rustamji lecture at the BSF investiture ceremony here, Rammohan said the main causes of Naxalism were related to land and forest rights of tribals, and states which had implemented land reforms and enforced land ceiling legislations had not been touched by the Naxal insurgency. He gave the example of Kerala in this regard.

"The government must take strong action to ensure justice for the lowest strata of people in these areas. Fighting is not the answer to the Naxal problem," he said.

Though the Home Ministry always insists that its anti-Naxal strategy is two-pronged - police operation being supplemented with efforts to ensure development of the region - it never fails to point out that Naxalites are indulging in criminal activities and killing innocent people without justification.

Rammohan said Naxalites were being forced to commit criminal acts and the main reason why Naxalites were targeting security forces was to take control of their weapons, which they had no other means of procuring.

He said the discovery of minerals in these areas had added a new dimension to the problem. "A very simple question now arises. Who does these mineral deposits belong to? Does it not belong to the people who have been living there for hundreds of years?" he asked.

Having submitted his report, Rammohan is no longer associated with the government and was speaking in his personal capacity. But his comments were contested by some serving officers present in the audience, who were of the opinion that the government had little option but to establish its superiority in the conflict with Naxalites.

Rammohan also saw some merit in the role of non-governmental organisations espousing the cause of Naxalites and said the government can utilise their services in reaching out to Naxal groups.

"After all why would a professor in Delhi University want to go to Chhattisgarh and support Naxalites? I think these people are concerned about the injustice prevailing in the system. Such NGOs should not be discouraged. In fact, their services can be utilised by the government in solving the problem," he said.

Chidambaram, who has repeatedly criticized these NGOs for taking a one-sided view of the problem, was present at the investiture ceremony but had left before Rammohan delivered the lecture.

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