Joint action plan on Naxals: Chidambaram

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 17 2009, 04:54am hrs
While conceding that the Centre had grossly under-estimated the Naxal threat, Union home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that a major offensive was now in the works to tackle the grave challenge.

Chidambaram said the joint action plan was being drawn up in close consultation with Naxal-affected states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Indicating that the strategy was an operational one, he said that a military advisor had been appointed to prepare the action plan. In the Lok Sabha last week, he had said that the government was adopting a two-pronged strategy: clear and hold areas occupied by Naxalities, and carry developmental works later. An allocation of Rs 1,250 crore has been earmarked this year for the states for police modernisation to tackle the Naxal menace. Regrettably for many years we did not properly assess the threat posed by Left-wing extremism. We under-estimated the challenge and in the meanwhile they (Naxalites) extended their influence, he said. Today they (Naxalites) pose a grave challenge...We are preparing to take on the challenge. Details cannot be disclosed now, he told the Upper House. Chidambaram also said that he was in touch with chief ministers of Naxal-affected states and would hold a meeting with them in August to discuss ways to counter Left-extremism.

Chidambarams remarks came even as BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told reporters that the UPA government does not understand the seriousness of the problem. Naxals have spread in 135 districts of the country. Its no more a state-specific problem and there should be a national level coordinated approach to tackle it, he said. Naidu also disapproved of Chidambarams stand on the Salwa Judum movement discouraging involvement of non-state players in taking on extremists. Salwa Judum was led by the leader of the Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly Mahendra Karma who is from the Congress. Salwa Judum is fighting the Naxal problem ideologically.