Nax­als Try to Stop De­vel­op­ment But We Con­tinue to Work for It

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

The Ch­hat­tis­garh gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to step up de­vel­op­ment have driven left-wing ex­trem­ists to des­per­a­tion even as they are be­ing driven out of the state, Chief Min­is­ter Ra­man Singh told Va­sudha Venu­gopal in an in­ter­view. He also spoke about the ben­e­fits from the changes in the way mines are auc­tioned, de­mon­eti­sa­tion, roll-out of the goods and ser­vices tax, and al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against his gov­ern­ment. Edited ex­cerpts:

What is your gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy for ad­dress­ing the chal­lenge from left-wing ex­trem­ists? The big fight in Bas­tar is build­ing roads, bridges, schools. Build­ing a road in Bas­tar is like fight­ing a war. When I go to Sukma I salute the soil. I place it on my head. This is where re­cently 11 jawans were mar­tyred for the sake of good roads. The Nax­als are try­ing their best to stop de­vel­op­ment and we are push­ing for it. The done is to the cul­ture of Bas­tar that was once known for its dhol­man­dar and fes­ti­vals. Trib­als here are peacelov­ing and crime­hat­ing, but the Nax­als made them vi­o­lent peo­ple who ex­tort money, kid­nap peo­ple and ru­ined their lives. They made bonded labour­ers out of them. They vi­o­lated their hu­man rights. Af­ter we built ed­u­ca­tion hubs of 6,000 chil­dren each, in­clud­ing in Dan­te­wada, trib­als here are look­ing at how their chil­dren are mak­ing it to the IITs and civil ser­vices – they don’t want to go down that vi­o­lent path again.

What led to the cre­ation of the CRPF’s Bas­tariya bat­tal­ion? We wanted to con­nect the youth to em­ploy­ment and mainly to the se­cu­rity forces, in­clud­ing get­ting them jobs in the army and navy. Once trained with us, they can work well in any of the armed forces. Th­ese are youths who joined the Nax­als but we have brought them back. They know the place in and out. We tell them Bas­tar tumhara hai, ise shaant karo (Bas­tar is yours, make it peace­ful again). Don’t let Nax­als, who come from Andhra, con­trol you. Bas­tariya bat­tal­ion is a mat­ter of pride for the state as it is the only re­gional bat­tal­ion in the para­mil­i­tary force.

What would you rate as the most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment of the NDA gov­ern­ment? Mines were ear­lier given to fa­mil­iar, favourable faces. The PM put a stop to that. Poverty was the max­i­mum in ar­eas where there were the best mines. The trib­als here were called ameer dharti ke ga­reeb log (poor peo­ple of the rich land). The District Min­eral Foun­da­tion was in­tro­duced for the first time two years ago. It has brought ad­di­tional funds to us...trans­par­ent auc- tion of iron ore, dolomite en­sured that there was a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the state’s rev­enues. We started at ₹ 400 crore, we went be­yond ₹ 4,000 crore. Now, in Korba, Dan­te­wada, Raigarh, we are get­ting work of at least ₹ 500-1,000 crore more, which is go­ing into de­vel­op­ment work for the peo­ple, en­sur­ing drink­ing wa­ter and build­ing schools. We have built good hos­pi­tals in Sukma and Bi­japur. This is how pol­icy changes things for the bet­ter.

There has been a lot of crit­i­cism of lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cials for tar­get­ing jour­nal­ists and ac­tivists… Th­ese are ac­tivists from Delhi who are sym­pa­this­ers of the Nax­als. They have a pat­tern in which they op­er­ate – from J&K to Ch­hat­tis­garh. They keep blam­ing the lo­cal po­lice, keep al­leg­ing they have raped women or ha­rass­ing civil­ians. I find it dif­fi­cult to ac­cept that in places like this where there are ex­plo­sions every other day, our jawans and po­lice forces are en­gaged in ac­tiv­i­ties like th­ese, in­stead of pro­tect­ing them­selves or peo­ple around. It is a well-thoughtout ploy to de­fame our forces. Some of their al­le­ga­tions could be true but most are base­less. They just want to drag us to courts and get at­ten­tion.

How do you re­spond to al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against a min­is­ter in your gov­ern­ment, and against you and your son? I have asked the chief sec­re­tary to give me a de­tailed re­port on the al­le­ga­tions against the min­is­ter’s wife. We will look into the mat­ter thor­oughly. If

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