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Rediff.com  » News » Chattisgarh governor asks Chidambaram not to visit Naxal-hit areas

Chattisgarh governor asks Chidambaram not to visit Naxal-hit areas

December 22, 2009 18:35 IST
In an unusual move, Chhattisgarh Governor ESL Narasimhan has written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh asking Union Home Minister P Chidambaram not to visit Naxal-affected areas in Raipur and Dantewada on January 7, 2010, as he plans. During his visit Chidambaram proposes to undertake a padyatra as well as spend a night with NGOs in a Naxal-affected area.

In a two-page letter to the prime minister, Narasimhan said the visit by a dignitary such as the home minister during ongoing anti-Naxal operations would hamper the security forces' strategy and tactics.

Narasimhan has spent 35 years in the Intelligence Bureau and held the post of director, IB, before moving into the Raipur Raj Bhavan. Given his background, he knows the operational difficulties in Maoist-affected areas in his state.

While the governor's aide de camp said he was not talking to the media, sources in North Block, housing the Union home ministry, confirmed that such a letter had indeed been sent and they have received a copy as well. 

This is the first time a governor has asked the Union home minister to not visit a state.

Meanwhile, Operation Anti-Red Terror has been set into motion with some 80,000 highly-armed personnel drawn from three central paramilitary forces and thousands of state policemen fanning out to take on the Maoists in the three most Naxal-affected districts in central India. The districts where the offensive is being unleashed are Kanker and Rajnandgaon districts in Chhattisgarh, and Gadchiroli in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

The task assigned to them is to drive out the Maoists and free the areas under their influence, so as to allow government agencies to launch development works and restore law and order.

Officials in New Delhi asserted that a clear-cut line has been given to the forces to avoid violent conflicts unless they become imperative..

"If they retreat we are not going to hunt and kill them. They may, however, not retreat peacefully so we are prepared for any attacks. The forces have been specially trained to tackle guerrilla-type strikes, as we do not expect them to get into a head-on confrontation, especially when we have pushed in a large number of forces to outnumber them," a top official who is coordinating the operation said.

The Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and state police are carrying out the operation jointly.

In the first phase, the forces will move deep into the interiors of the forest areas to set up their outposts. Once they establish themselves, they will venture further into remote areas to mount an onslaught to cleanse the area of Maoists.

The official said the offensive will include house to house searches but there will be no violence unless the forces are attacked. Even their response will be limited to drive out those mounting the attacks, he said.

"Once we clean out the areas, the district administration will step in with development works. Our task is limited to neutralising the Maoists who are not allowing the government staff to do any work in the areas under their control, and to drive them out," the official added.

A Correspondent in New Delhi