Centre bans Maoist outfit

Left Front says no useful purpose will be served as rebels call 48-hour bundh

Centre bans Maoist outfit

 However, the CPI (Maoist), whose government in West Bengal is battling the extremists, struck a discordant note, saying the ban would not work.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in New Delhi:  “What we have done, in order to avoid any ambiguity, is that we have added the words CPI (Maoist) in the schedule of the Act. All ambiguity has been removed.”

The ambiguity, according to sources, was there following the merger of the CPI-ML (People’s War Group) with the Marxist Co-ordination Committee (MCC). The move to tag CPI (Maoist) is aimed at drying the sources of funds and curbing the support for its activities from a section of people. The CPI (Maoist), has been bracketed with 34 other organisations, including LeT and SIMI, who are in the list of banned outfits.

High-level meeting

The Maoists have called a 48-hour bundh starting Monday to oppose the offensive launched by the security forces in the West Bengal’s Lalgarh area. Following a high-level meeting against the backdrop of the security forces’ operations in Lalgarh in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, the Home Ministry included the Maoists as a banned terrorist group. The CPI (Maoist) is already banned in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa where the organisation has considerable presence.

Home Ministry officials said the CPI-Maoist has been banned under the UAPA that is applicable all over the country. However, individual states have to issue their own notifications banning the organisation.

On the CPM and the Left Front stand that the Maoists need to be fought politically and administratively and a ban does not work, the minister said he still felt there is a distinction between party and government and hoped West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would consider his suggestion to ban the outfit and his Cabinet would take an appropriate decision.

Karat’s doubt

While his party colleague Sitaram Yechury met Chidambaram after the ban order was issued, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat doubted its efficacy saying a banned organisation could function under a different name.West Bengal Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said the government would go into the implications of the ban and present a report to the chief minister.

In Kolkata, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “We have decided that such outfits, which follow misguided politics, cannot be countered by proscription. It is important to counter the activities of these outfits politically.”

Bose said it was a continuous political process to “alienate” people from the “dangerous politics” pursued by the Maoists. “This work has to be carried on,” he said. Bose said it was necessary to take administrative steps to restore normal life. The CPI and Forward Bloc, two major LF constituents, also said the ban would not solve the problem. 

The Left stand comes two days after Bhattacherjee stated his government will give a serious thought to proscribing the Naxals.  “We do not think a ban on them will solve the problem; it has to be solved politically. There may be a dialogue with the ultras, but before that they have to eschew the politics of murder and anarchy,” CPI state council secretary Manju Kumar Majumdar said. Echoing his views, Forward Bloc secretary Ashok Ghose said: “We have fundamental differences with the Maoists, but they are not our class enemies. We are against imposing ban on them.”

The Unlawful Activity (Prevention) Act enables the Centre to declare an association as unlawful (under Section 3). It also contains a definition of “terrorist organisation” in Section 2(1)(m). In the original Act, 32 organisations were included in the Schedule which included CPI(ML) – People’s War, and MCC and all their formations and front organisations.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress on Monday sought to distance itself from the ban on CPI (Maoists) saying it was not a party to the decision taken jointly by the Centre and West Bengal Government. “There is nothing new in today’s ban as such a step was taken in 2004,” Mamata said.

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