Who are the Maoists?

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DM Mitra addressing the seminar on Maoist extremism

BHOPAL: Senior Advisor to the Madhya Pradesh Planning Commission D.M. Mitra said here 29 September 2011 that Maoists are quite different from other naxalites groups of past and present. They have been able thrive in the forest areas where they could easily hide and where democratic political space is not available to the inhabitants.

Mitra, who is an IPS officer of the 1983 batch belonging to the Madhya  Pradesh cadre was addressing a symposium on the “Maoist Problem” organised jointly by State Academy of Administration and newsroom24x7.com. The symposium was attended by senior IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service officers, especially officers posted in districts bordering Chhattisgarh.

Mitra, who has done research on Maoists with extensive field studies across the country, gave a comprehensive presentation on the genesis, spread and handling of Maoist violence. He clarified many wrong conceptions about Maoists. Nothing much can be done in about 16 per cent of areas in the so-called Red Corridor unless police restores the writ of the government in those areas by flushing the
Maoists out, Mitra said adding administration and democratic political space can be improved in the rest 84 per cent areas in order to prevent them from
falling under Maoist influence. He recommended strengthening of Government’s Agencies, Police’s Service and Defensive Capabilities and
factors for Enabling Democratic Opportunities, including Education,
Communication (Roads), Recruitment into Government and Livelihood.

NVDA Vice Chairman OP Rawat

Vice Chairman Narmada Valley Development Authority O.P. Rawat said
that the Maoists can succeed in making inroads only if there is turbulence or injustice. He cited the example of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh where the results have been encouraging with regard to giving
settlement rights to the forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act [The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006].

Rawat said the NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar) had made the Government of India and many state governments come to their knees and frame proper resettlement policy. Earlier the outdated Land Acquisition Act, which dates back to 1894, was being used to acquire land and deprive the tribals of their means of livelihood but when NBA raised its head and the GOI had to come out with a resettlement policy. Laying stress on the importance of building a system of canals in the Narmada valley for irrigation purpose, Rawat said that canals would irrigate the fields of both the rich and the poor farmers. Whereas, under the situation prevailing till now only the big farmers had benefited from lift irrigation as they were having the means to use pumps to irrigate their fields situated as far as 50 to 60 kms from the Narmada River. The poor farmers, who lack the capacity to install these pumps, were paying a heavy price to the big farmers for irrigating their crop. The vested interest of the big farmers is to block the construction of canals in the Narmada Valley, he pointed out and said a stage had been reached where the Supreme Court even served a notice to the NBA asking why it should not be
blacklisted.

In his opening remarks, Director General of the Academy of Administration and Management Prashant Mehta stressed the need for striking a balance and said while the security forces are engaged in combating the Maoists, a holistic approach should be adopted to improve the quality of life of the people living in inaccessible
areas.

The Academy Director Rakesh Agarwal also focused attention on this aspect and said those in government should keep themselves informed about the total dynamics of the problem

Lalit Shastri speaking about the Naxalite menace

Speaking on this occasion senior journalist Lalit Shastri cited gaping gaps in the past when it came to releasing funds and implementing the Anti-naxalite Action Plan after the 1992 Konta blast in Bastar in
which 17 policemen were killed. He laid stress on the need to give jungle warfare training to security personnel before posting them in the Maoist affected areas.

The Symposium was presided by former DGP of Chhattisgarh S.M. Shukla and conducted by H M Mishra, Professor and CEO, Centre for Knowledge Management and Good Governance, Academy of Administration..

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