Union Govt favours unified command

Union Govt favours unified command

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, flanked by Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony, presiding over a meeting of Chief Ministers of Naxal-affected States, in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

In a meeting of chief ministers and governors of the states with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday, the Centre asked the states to set up a unified command, with a retired major general from the Army as an advisor, to fight against the red brigade.

On the development front, the Planning Commission is considering a special plan for the affected regions, emphasising on road connectivity, primary education and health care and drinking water. The plan would soon come to the Cabinet for approval, Chidambaram said.

The states have also been told to individually appoint an inspector general of state police as IG (anti-Naxal operations) and a CRPF IG as IG (operations) for better coordination among security agencies. The Centre would also provide more helicopters for logistics support, troop movement, supplies and evacuation, Chidambaram said. Indian Air Force had started the process of bringing its helicopters back from various UN missions, where they are deployed, back to India, he said.

This apart, the Centre would provide additional funds to set up or strengthen 400 police stations in the affected districts at the rate of Rs 2 crore per police station for a period of two years. While 80 per cent of this funding will come from the Central government, the states will have to bear the remaining 20 per cent.

To look into development needs of the areas, an empowered group chaired by member-secretary of the Planning Commission would be set up to modify existing norms and guidelines in the implementation of various schemes keeping in mind the local needs, Chidambaram said.

Road connectivity would be improved in 34 districts most hit by Left-wing extremism, he said, adding many roads and bridges were being planned at a cost of Rs 950 crore by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The measures are being taken to contain Naxal violence that has seen a sudden surge since January this year. About 209 security members have lost their lives in 1,103 incidents of violence between January and June, which also killed 97 Naxalites.

The surge has hit civilians, too. Naxals have caught hold of commoners and killed them for being ‘police informers’. Till January this year, 142 of the 325 civilians who lost their lives, were killed by the Naxals for ‘working for the police’. In 2009, 211 of the 591 commoners killed, were murdered for ‘tipping off the police’. Between 2004 and 2008, 500 civilians were killed every year, most of them for being “police informers”.

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