Naxals abducting collectors with dev agenda: Govt

New Delhi: The government today said that district collectors who pursue development agenda are being abducted by Naxals but made it clear it will continue its efforts in Maoist-hit areas despite such setbacks.

"Through a calibrated security and development-oriented approach, the effort in the short-term is to prevent expansion of left wing extremism (LWE) problem to new areas….District collectors with a pro-active development agenda are targeted and kidnapped. In the short and medium terms, this challenge has to be met and overcome in worst-affected areas," Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

"….The Integrated Action Plan (for Naxal-hit states) is also a tool to bridge the trust deficit between the government and local communities in these areas," he said.

Singh said, "That, this purpose has been achieved in some measure, even in the worst-affected areas, can be seen by the action of CPI (Maoist) in targeting the district collectors- there was an effort to kill the Collector of Bijapur, Chhattisgarh in a landmine explosion recently and a young and pro-active Collector of Sukma in Chhattisgarh has been kidnapped by them. In spite of such setbacks, the government is determined to sustain these development efforts," the Minister said.

32-year-old 2006 batch IAS officer Alex Paul Menon was taken captive on Saturday by Maoists from Majhipara village in Raipur district. Singh said that 26 districts in various states account for nearly 80 per cent of the total LWE violence. "The states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha are considered badly affected by left wing extremism. The states of West Bengal and Maharashtra are considered partially affected. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are considered slightly affected states. There is substantial improvement in the situation in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal whereas LWE violence has remained low-key in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh," Singh said.

The Minister was replying to a question by Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar on various issues related to Naxalism like the cause-effect link between Integrated Action Plan (IAP) and its impact on LWE and the prognosis for diminishing and eventually ending the LWE threat.

"In the long-term, the inherent nature of CPI (Maoist) ideology which puts a premium on violence, killing, destruction of infrastructure, indiscriminate use of landmines targeting even civilians, sabotage of passenger trains and kidnapping of civilian non-combatants and such other atrocities will create a dynamic for its own demise even in the worst-affected districts. This important factor, in addition to a sustained development and security-oriented approach, is expected to yield desired results," Singh said.

He said the prognosis for reducing and eventually ending the LWE problem has to be seen in the short-term, medium-term and long-term time frames. "The policy of the government of India is that a two- pronged strategy of development and security measures are required to address the situation. In addition, emphasis is also laid on ensuring entitlement of adivasis under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and improvement in governance in LWE-affected areas. In other words, in addition to security measures, there is a realisation that development deficit and governance deficit in these areas need to be addressed. Hence, there is an emphasis on schemes like the IAP and close monitoring of implementation of flagship schemes in LWE-affected districts. There is a degree of consensus on this two-pronged approach in all the LWE-affected states although the actual level of implementation may vary from state to state," he said.