ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Setting the Gun-sights

THE Prime Minister has been fond of saying that the so-called Naxalites should be fought and overcome politically. In her frequent expressions of socialistic compassion, she has been willing to concede that very genuine economic frustrations drive these young men to violence and that, therefore, the answer to the problem is to try to remove the causes of frustration. And indeed in West Bengal (though not in Andhra) there did appear to be some deliberate restraint in police action against the Naxalites in the early days of President's rule. But all this has suddenly changed. The State administration has been armed post-haste with the power to arrest and detain anyone it pleases and absolved from having to institute even the normal nominal departmental inquiries into the actions of the police. The reasons for the change in approach are perhaps to he sought not so much in any rethinking on the right strategy to combat the Naxalites as in the recent change in the direction of the latter's activities. So long as the Naxalite attacks were directed mainly against the 'revisionists' in CPI(M), the forbearance of the State administration was touching; but once policemen, government officials and businessmen became the targets of attack and the Central Government came in for increasing criticism in Parliament and in the newspapers, the political approach to the Naxalites simply melted away and the problem became a law and order one.

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