Quell LWE with a firm hand

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

The reg­u­lar­ity with which left-wing ex­trem­ists (LWE) are tar­get­ing politi­cians, of­fi­cials, po­lice and se­cu­rity per­son­nel has dis­turbed the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity fab­ric of the na­tion. The re­cent at­tack in Ch­hat­tis­garh, which claimed sev­eral lives in­clud­ing that of for­mer Union Min­is­ter V.C. Shukla, has shaken up the govern­ment. While all ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties have con­demned the at­tacks and termed the CPI (Maoist) an un­law­ful or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh has called for co­or­di­nated ef­forts be­tween the Cen­tre and the States to deal with the Naxal men­ace. At a re­cent meet­ing on in­ter­nal se­cu­rity of Chief Min­is­ters, the Prime Min­is­ter re­it­er­ated the two-prong strat­egy of the govern­ment to quell Nax­al­ism.

The strat­egy is to con­tin­u­ously con­duct proac­tive and sus­tained op­er­a­tions against Maoist ex­trem­ists while ad­dress­ing de­vel­op­ment and gov­er­nance is­sues in Naxal-af­fected ar­eas. There is no gain­say­ing the fact that th­ese ef­forts have to be in­ten­si­fied, ac­cel­er­ated and quick, be­fore the LWE lure lot more vul­ner­a­ble sec­tions of the so­ci­ety into their fold. In hin­ter­land In­dia, is­sues of gov­er­nance stare peo­ple in their faces, frus­trat­ing them and LWE have been promis­ing utopia by over­throw­ing es­tab­lished gov­ern­ments. This is not go­ing to hap­pen, but what is dis­turb­ing is that the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion be­comes frag­ile.

It is sin­cerely hoped that the gov­ern­ments, ir­re­spec­tive of po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions, will strengthen the se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence ap­pa­ra­tus in th­ese ar­eas and at the same time in­vest in de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

In his frank and forth­right anal­y­sis, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has called for to­tal con­trol by the Home Min­istry with a 24x7 op­er­a­tions cen­tre to counter Maoist op­er­a­tions, be­sides a co­he­sive strat­egy en­com­pass­ing politico-eco­nomic-so­cio as­pects of the prob­lem. The Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces are not geared to take on the Maoists and he sug­gests that th­ese units should be re­or­gan­ised, of­fi­cered, manned, equipped and trained like the Rashtriya Ri­fles or the As­sam Ri­fles.

Away from LWE, we have good news with the In­dian Air Force go­ing to take de­liv­ery of C-17 Globe­mas­ter III heavy-lift trans­port jet. The air­craft is ver­sa­tile and it will equip the IAF with strate­gic and hu­man­i­tar­ian ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Com­pared with the IL-76, the C-17 is said to be eas­ier to han­dle and its abil­ity to op­er­ate from short and rough airstrips gives it added edge. The air­craft can be used to fight ter­ror­ism and in low-in­ten­sity war­fare.

The other good news is that the new De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure (DPP) 2013 has been pro­mul­gated. It is hoped that it will pro­mote in­di­geni­sa­tion and cre­ate a level play­ing for the In­dian de­fence in­dus­try which has started look­ing up only now. There are mak­ings of a strong de­fence in­dus­trial base, but the path is fraught with chal­lenges.

In­dia’s de­fence spend­ing has grown man­i­fold since the coun­try an­nounced its first de­fence bud­get in 1950. In­dia cur­rently im­ports ap­prox­i­mately 70 per cent of it equip­ment needs, but the Govern­ment’s aim is to re­verse this bal­ance. In­deed, In­dian de­fence in­dus­try has a long way to go. Happy read­ing!

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