New Delhi: Maoist violence was not a mere law and order problem and the lack of development in tribal areas was an important cause of the malaise, Tribal Affairs Minister KC Singh Deo said Monday.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the launch of his ministry`s new website even as an all party has been called later Monday to chart out the strategy for dealing with the Maoists.
"Maoism is a not a mere law and order problem and poor development is also part of it. From the beginning, I have said that we need to get to the root cause of the problem to solve it," Deo told reporters.
"There has been exploitation of tribals and no development in many tribal areas. Poor education, bad health facilities, no road connectivity and lack of drinking water among others," the minister said, listing the problems that exist in areas that see Maoist activity.
Singh Deo said Salwa Judum - the civilian militia mobilised to fight Maoists - is the biggest threat to peace.
"Sawla Judum is no way of dealing the problem. By keeping young tribals in concentration camps and depriving them of their rights... is the worst thing that can happen," he said.
"Tribals are not our enemy, but civilians of the country and our paramilitary forces are only trained to fight with enemies. Lack of development in those areas is the reason for such attacks. You cannot paint all tribals with the same brush," he said.
Singh Deo said the government needs sensible development in tribal areas, rather than allowing industries to exploit the rich natural resources of these areas.
The all-party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to fine-tune the government`s strategy to deal with Maoists.
The meeting comes in the wake of the May 25 attack by Maoists on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh which wiped out the party`s leadership in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state.
The Maoist attack killed 28 people, including former Congress state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, party leader Mahendra Karma and former legislator Uday Mudliyar.
The National Investigation Agency is probing the massacre.