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Debate: Is military action only solution to Naxalism

The Naxal activities have lately accelerated in the country. On Tuesday, a New Delhi-bound Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani Express was hijacked by Naxals at a railway station in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district. After over five hours of high drama, the train was freed and the passengers reached the Capital on Wednesday evening.

Earlier, a Jharkhand police officer was beheaded by Naxals demanding release of some of their group members.

That brings us to the question that was asked on a special show on the findings of the Hindustan Times CNN-IBN Leadership survey: HT Leadership Summit: Is military action the only solution to Naxalism?

On the panel of experts to debate the issue were National Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Kavita Srivastava; senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta; Former DG, BSF ML Kumawat; Political Editor of Hindustan Times Vinod Sharma.

The best way to tackle insurgency is to
Mobilise military to crack down on the insurgents
Negotiate and persuade insurgents to join the mainstream
Boost development spending in backward areas

All of the above


(All figures are in %)

What do you think is the main reason for growing insurgencies?
Growing social inequity
Failure of intelligence
Failure of law enforcement agencies

(All figures are in %)

How do you rate the government's performance in countering terrorism and insurgency?
Somewhat good
Very bad

(All figures are in %)

Countering Naxal Terror

Fourteen per cent of those who have been surveyed were in favour of using force against the Naxals. The public opinion differed from the initiative taken by Home Minister P Chidambaram to use force against the Naxals.

Reacting to the survey, ML Kumawat said the people don’t seem to be aware of the Naxals problem.

“This is a very serious problem and there is a need of a multi-pronged strategy to deal with it,” he said.

Agreeing with Kumawat, Vinod Sharma said India needs three elements to address the Naxals problem.
“We need development, negotiation and military action to address the problem,” he said.

However, Sharma also emphasised that the Government cannot forget that it is fighting its own people who have been neglected for years.

“This problem was first addressed in 1967 and today we are in 2009. It has been four decades and what have we done?” he questioned.

The Naxal Problem

Disagreeing with the findings of the survey, Swapan Dasgupta said, “Complex political issues are certainly never decided on the basis of a slightly limited market survey".

Agreeing with the other two panellists, Gupta said it is true that military is not the only solution to Naxals problem.

“A combination of methods which does not exclude a military approach is the solution to this problem,” he said.

Gupta emphasised that Naxals are hardcore military insurgents.

“They have no inhibitions about beheading a policeman, hijacking a train and are waging a war against the sovereignty of India,” he said.

Kavita Srivastava, however, appreciated the survey findings and called it a “natural response”.

Slamming the Government over its negligent behaviour towards states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Srivastava said, “The Government has exploited people in these states”.

“Six hundred villages were evacuated by the Government and the people were forced to live in camps and when they flee off the camps they were declared Naxals,” she added.

Reacting to Srivastava’s statement, Kumawat said, “Even if all demands of the Naxals are accepted they will continue to with their violent activities”.

Internal Security Challenges

What do you think of police in your area?
They are very corrupt
They are inefficient
They are good in their job

No opinion


(All figures are in %)

If response is 1 or 2 in q 17, then what do you think is the main reason?
The lower level staff in police is underpaid so resort to corruption
Top officials and Politicians put pressure on lower level staff to be dishonest
The workload on police is very high

All the above


(All figures are in %)

Going by the survey findings, Sharma said when police of a state are underpaid, overworked and corrupted the state tends to be oppressive.

Gupta agreed with Sharma and said it is true there are many flaws in the state administration.

“Government needs to make a clear decision. Either we reform the state through democratic means or we wage a war against them (Naxals),” he said.

Objecting to Gupta’s opinion, Srivastava said that he wasn’t presenting a correct picture of the situation.

“In this whole welfare it is going to be the poor tribal who will be killed and therefore the Government must call for an unconditional dialogue with the Maoists,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gupta intervened and said that the Government doesn’t need to call for a dialogue with the Naxals and added that tribal people don’t represent the Naxals.

To this, Sharma said, “There shouldn’t be an unconditional dialogue but definitely there should be a meeting ground".

However, Kumawat said the dialogue should take place only when Naxals lay down their arms.

Concluding the debate, Sharma said, "The Government of India should not resort to military actions against its own people but should look out for a common meeting ground".

Results of the SMS/web poll:

Yes: 69 per cent
No: 31 per cent


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