Only bullets can’t solve Naxalism, need a 360-degree strategy: Chhattisgarh CM Baghel

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Asserting that unemployment gave rise to Naxalism in Chhattisgarh’s worst-affected Bastar region, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday said only guns and bullets cannot solve this decades-old problem and development is the only way out.

He said the government has reopened many schools, including some english-medium schools, for children in areas affected by left-wing extremism.

“I think the root cause of the problem (Naxalism) has been either misunderstood or ignored earlier. After we took over, we realised that only guns and bullets cannot solve the problem.

“We need to have a 360-degree strategy to solve this decades-old problem. I am happy to tell you that we are slowly succeeding in our endeavour,” Baghel told PTI in an interview.

He said the government has started working closely with the people of Bastar.

“We started consultations with the local communities and asked them what is their prescription for the problem and what they need to make life better. Then we started addressing the problems they face in their day-to-day life,” the chief minister said.

Baghel said unemployment has been a reason behind the rise of Naxal problems in Bastar.

“We have taken many steps to address this problem. Efforts are being made to provide jobs to locals. We are making sure that youths get jobs in their own district or in the region,” he said.

The chief minister said police personnel were being given high-level training and special task force hubs have been set up for effective action.

“Our police and para-military forces are combative as never before. We have also asked the Centre to assist in development here and have also given suggestions, which if implemented, will aid in the elimination of Naxalism from this hotbed of red terror within the next few years,” the senior Congress leader said.

Baghel accused the opposition parties of creating misunderstandings among the forest dwellers about the coal mining projects. The misunderstandings have been cleared now, he said.

“We always stand with the forest dwellers for all the difficulties they face due to the wrong policies of the Central government. When the tribals were on a foot march to Raipur for handing over a memorandum to the governor and me about their demands from the Central government, our government took care of them too,” Baghel said.

A large number of tribals and forest-dwellers had in October reached Raipur, walking 300 km as part of an agitation demanding immediate cancellation of coal mining projects in the Hasdeo Aranya region of north Chhattisgarh and to protect the forests.

“We have cleared all the groundless apprehensions about the coal mining projects. Our government has neither violated the rules and procedures in the past nor will do so in the future. We are committed to protecting every right of the forest dwellers and tribals,” the chief minister said.

Baghel said that his government has started framing rules under the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension of the Scheduled Areas) Act and they will be implemented soon.

“My party strongly believes in democracy and decentralisation of power. We brought the Panchayati Raj and implemented it. We made the PESA act and we are committed to implementing it,” he said.

“Don’t you find it surprising that the question of PESA implementation had never been asked in the years when the BJP was in power? People believe that only the Congress government can implement it and we will do it soon,” the chief minister said.

Baghel also accused the Centre of being anti-farmer and highlighted schemes being run by the Chhattisgarh government for their welfare.

“It is not just about these three controversial (farm) laws. It seems that the BJP govt at the centre is against farmers in any way. Take the example of Chhattisgarh where the Centre is unnecessarily creating hindrances in the paddy procurement process this time as well,” he alleged.

Baghel said his government started the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana’, which aims to benefit over 21 lakh farmers of the state.

During the Covid pandemic, Chhattisgarh became the first state to transfer financial aid directly in the account of farmers, he said.

“Under this scheme, input assistance of Rs 5,702 crore is being given in four instalments to about 21 lakh farmers in Kharif marketing year 2020-21.”

Rs 1,548 crore has been paid in three instalments as of November 1 this year, Baghel said, adding that the fourth and final instalment will be transferred in their accounts by March next year.

“Our government has started the first-of-its-kind Godhan Nyay Yojana under which farmers are being directly benefited through cow dung procurement at the rate of Rs 2 per kg. The scheme is yielding extraordinary results in the state,” he said.

“A majority of the states, including the BJP-ruled ones, are studying our schemes and implementing them in one way or the other,” Baghel claimed, adding the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agricultural Affairs has recommended the implementation of the Godhan Nyay Yojana in the entire country.

“We are fulfilling our promises and making our farmers happy, he said.

In an apparent dig at the BJP, Baghel said, “It is high time that questions should be asked to those who have promised to double farmers’ income by 2022.”

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