Raipur: Tackling Naxalism is a divisive issue for the UPA government. Days after union home minister P Chidambaram defended the joint operations by CRPF operations and the Chhattisgarh police in Basaguda, Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo told NDTV, "no matter what the circumstances, forces cannot resort to indiscriminate firing."
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Mr Deo said "using innocent tribals as human shields by Maoists is unpardonable and is a sin. But that's no excuse for the forces to shoot innocent tribals including women and children. These issues should be dealt with discretely."
The security forces have claimed that the joint operations in Basaguda have killed 19 Maoists but locals have questioned this version. Villagers say that the gathering where the forces opened fire was a "village gathering" and innocent students including a teenage girl was killed.
The CRPF director General Vijay Kumar, however, defended his men and pointed out that there was retaliatory fire injuring his jawans. Such claims were also backed by the Union Home Minister and the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who accused the Maoists of using villagers as human shields.
Earlier, there were differences within the Congress on the issue of tackling Naxal violence. Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had criticised the Home Minister for treating Naxalism as a "mere law and order issue." Mr Deo is the second senior minister who was openly critical of a "military approach" to deal with Naxalism. And ironically, Mr Deo chose to air his views on a day when the Chhattisgarh government was on a PR overdrive by bringing in a batch of students including engineering students to Delhi.
The BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh government is keen to showcase their development work in the Naxal affected regions and even got the students to meet with the Prime Minister. Unimpressed by such moves, Mr Deo told NDTV that the Chhattisgarh government had a notorious track record as it encouraged private militia like salwa judum to counter the armed Maoists.
Story first published:
July 03, 2012 15:57 IST