Govt has 'staying power' to fight Naxals: PC

Govt has `staying power` to fight Naxals: PC New Delhi: With the government under opposition attack over "divisions" in the ruling alliance and Congress on anti-Naxal strategy, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said a strong head and "enormous staying power" were needed to fight the Maoists.

"To counter the menace of Naxalism, we need a strong head, a stronger heart and enormous staying power. I believe that the government has all three qualities," Chidambaram said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the April 6 Dantewada incident which claimed the lives of 76 security personnel.

He said the state governments have the primary responsibility to fight the Maoist menace and the Centre was ready to assist them.

"The state governments have the primary responsibility" to regain control of areas dominated by the Naxals, he said.

The Central government, Chidamabaram said, was ready and willing to assist the state governments and to coordinate inter-state operations.

Chidambaram made the statement even as the BJP attacked the government saying while it was extending its support in the fight against Naxals, the "divided" treasury benches and Congress had been pulling down their own Home Minister.

The Home Minister said as the security forces were deployed in areas populated by scheduled tribes, they were facing hindrances.

"Because the security forces are deployed in areas populated by scheduled tribes, a number of restrictions have been placed on the operations of the central paramilitary forces," he said.

Apparently rejecting suggestions that the security forces were not adequately trained, Chidambaram said "the three companies (deployed in Dantewada) concerned had undergone pre-induction training before they were inducted in that area".

Noting that the goal of Naxalites was to overthrow the established authority of the government, he said the State has a legitimate right to deploy its security forces to "resist, apprehend and, if necessary, neutralise militants who are determined to strike at the very roots of our nation".

He said the call to the CPI(Maoist) for talks was made in the hope of getting their sincere response. "The only condition is that the CPI (Maoist) must abjure violence".

The minister said that the Centre has appointed a one-man inquiry committee headed by E N Ram Mohan, a retired IPS officer, to look into the Dantewada incident. The committee has been asked to submit its report within two weeks.

Oppn members irked

A piquant situation was witnessed in Rajya Sabha today as BJP members protested non-availability of Home Minister P Chidambaram's statement on the Dantewada massacre, wondering whether it "required any inquiry".

After frequent adjournments in the pre-lunch session, Chidambaram made a statement at 1400 hours in the Upper House. But the BJP and Left members were on their feet complaining that copies were not given to them.

Noting that copies were made available, Chidambaram said he was at a loss why they were not supplied to the members.

This prompted BJP member M Venkaiah Naidu to say "does it require any inquiry. Government is taking everything casually".

As members continued to raise their point, Chairman Hamid Ansari wanted to know whether the discussion could go on immediately or he would adjourn the proceedings for 15 minutes to enable the members to receive copies.

However, copies were supplied then and the discussion went on.

PC visits CRPF hdqrts

Chidambaram also visited the CRPF headquarters here and interacted with top officials in wake of the Dantewada massacre by the Naxals.

Official sources said Chidambaram arrived at the CGO complex office early morning and spent nearly two hours while holding a closed-door meeting with CRPF Director General Vikram Srivastava and other senior officials.

Chidambaram is understood to have enquired about the operational details including deployment of senior officers in Naxal-infested areas.

He told the officers that he is proud of the force and they should not feel demoralised, the sources said.

At the same time, he is understood to have expressed his unhappiness at the high casualty suffered by the force and several senior officers were reportedly at the receiving end.

Incidentally, Chidambaram made a statement today in the Parliament on the gruesome attack in which 75 CRPF men were killed and officers view his visit to the headquarters on this background.