Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that the recent Supreme Court order for disbanding and disarmingSpecial Police Officers will hit anti-Naxal operations.
With theChhattisgarh government set to enact a new law to deal with the verdict’s fallout, the Centre will hold consultations with chief ministers of other Naxal-hit states such as Orissa and Jharkhand to assess their view and discuss a revised strategy to sustain the fight against Maoists.
Chidambaram was also quoted by a news agency as saying that there were reports with the Centre indicating the regrouping of Maoist and PCPA cadres in the Jangalmahal area of Bengal, which had been asked to stay alert. When asked if the apex court order on disarming and disbanding tribals engaged as SPOs would affect the fight against Maoists, Chidambaram said, “well, I think it will.”
“At least the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh (Raman Singh) strongly feels that this judgement will impact anti-Naxal operations,” he said. He added that the chief minister has proposed to take some steps in the next couple of days, including making a new law to govern SPOs.
To be promulgated as an ordinance, given that the state assembly is not session, the new Chhattisgarh law will provide for absorbing disbanded SPOs in the state police as regular recruits. To make this possible, the new law will relax the criteria for their selection as policemen, covering parameters such as minimum height, chest measurement and educational qualifications. The new law will come as a big relief for the disbanded SPOs, who exposed to a possible backlash by Maoists.
Chidambaram also confirmed that there were reports of Maoists and PCPA regrouping in Jangalmahal area of West Bengal. This comes even as the state government is planning to release 52 political prisoners, including two senior leaders of the Maoist state committee arrested in 2005 and 2008, as part of its confidence-building measures ahead of proposed peace talks with the rebels.
To a question whether Bengal Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee was soft towards Maoists, Chidambaram said there was no basis for him to agree with such an assumption. “There is no basis at all that the Maoists supported Trinamool Congress. I do not have any basis to come to that conclusion,” he said.
He said there was no proposal from theBengal government to scale down the presence of para-military forces in the Naxal-infested districts. “They have requested that the forces deployed in three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia must remain…which we have agreed for the time being,” he said. Economic Times