PM Modi Interview 8: Thoughts On Maoist Threat, North-East Insurgency And Priorities In Jammu And Kashmir  

by R Jagannathan - Jul 3, 2018 12:45 PM +05:30 IST
PM Modi Interview 8: Thoughts On Maoist Threat, North-East Insurgency And Priorities In Jammu And Kashmir  Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks about the government’s efforts to limit Maoists violence. (GettyImages)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in this segment, talks about the goals in Kashmir and the overall internal security situation, especially in the Maoist areas and the North-East. (Read the previous parts here)

Swarajya: Shall we discuss internal security, Kashmir, etc? Are the government’s policies to mitigate the threat of Maoism working?

Modi: Since you asked about internal security, first and foremost I would like to salute our brave security forces, who are eternally vigilant and are ensuring peace as well as prosperity of 125 crore Indians. You can ascertain our security situation from the fact that recurrent terror attacks that were common under the UPA are now history.

The numbers vis-a-vis Maoist violence in the last four years should make every Indian happy. Maoist violence has declined by 20 per cent in the affected states, with a concomitant reduction of 34 per cent in deaths in 2017 compared to 2013.

Geographically as well, the influence of Maoist violence has shrunk substantially.

Swarajya: But is it just about security and force, or also development?

Modi: It is true that Maoist violence had stalled the progress of many districts in central and eastern India. That is why in 2015, our government formulated a comprehensive ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ to eradicate Maoist violence. Along with zero tolerance towards violence, we have also focused on a massive push to infrastructure and social empowerment to bring a positive change in the lives of the poor people in these regions.

The unparalleled development focus is reaping rich dividends.

About 4,500 km of roads have already been built in 34 Maoist-affected districts. Earlier, work at such speed and scale was not even imaginable!

About 2,400 mobile towers have been installed and an additional 4,072 towers have been approved to enhance connectivity.

When we assumed office, we got to know that there were no Kendriya Vidyalayas in 11 out of 35 districts most affected by Maoist violence. Eight new Kendriya Vidyalayas and five new Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are now imparting quality education to children.

These are large residential schools, well equipped with trained teachers and excellent infrastructure in terms of science, IT education and extracurricular activities. Fifteen ITIs and 43 Skill Development Centres have been set up across these places to fulfill the aspirations of the youth.

Maoist-affected areas had limited access to banks. Between April 2015 and December 2017, about 430 new bank branches and 1,045 ATMs have been opened in 35 districts most affected by Maoist violence.

I have personally travelled to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal on numerous occasions. On 14 April (Ambedkar Jayanti) the first phase of Ayushman Bharat (Rs 5 lakh of health insurance to each selected family) was rolled out from Bastar, one of the most Maoist-affected districts in India.

Swarajya: Has the area under Left Wing Extremism (LWE) really shrunk?

Modi: No area likes being called an LWE-affected area. It adversely impacts the psyche of the local population. Based on the changed ground realities, 44 out of 126 districts have been removed from the list of LWE-affected areas. These are those districts that did not see any violence for the last four years.

Due to the government's policies, the push for development and absolutely no tolerance for any violence, about 3,380 Maoists surrendered from 2014 to 2017. From 2010 to 2013 the number stood around 1,380.

India, the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Buddha and Bhagwan Mahavir, has a rich history of non-violence and brotherhood.

What can solve people’s problems is not violence but development. And that is why, our approach (while having no tolerance for any sort of violence and disturbance) is to devote unparalleled resources towards the development of areas prone to violence.

Swarajya: While we are talking about security, we also want to bring up the question of your personal security. Your well-wishers feel very nervous seeing you do these road shows, and their number is only increasing now.

Modi: Whenever I am travelling, I see that a lot of people, from all age groups and sections of society, are out on the streets to greet me and welcome me.

I can’t just remain seated in my car, aloof from their display of affection and care. That is why I invariably get down and greet, interact with people as much as I can.

I am not a shahenshah or an imperious ruler who is unaffected by their warmth. Being among people gives me lot of strength.

Swarajya: The alliance in Jammu and Kashmir did not work as you had imagined. Now that there is Governor’s rule, what are your aims for the state?

Modi: In Kashmir, our goal is good governance, development, responsibility and accountability.

Swarajya: Will there be dialogue with stakeholders?

Modi: We have appointed an interlocutor, and he is in touch with many people. He is travelling to the interiors and engaging with people.

Swarajya: Politically, the BJP has expanded its footprint in the North-East, but is the security situation better now?

Modi: The security situation in the North-East has improved tremendously. In 2017, we had the lowest insurgency-related incidents and casualties among civilians and security forces in the last 20 years!

Tripura and Mizoram are virtually free from insurgency. In Meghalaya, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been removed from all areas from 31 March 2018 and in Arunachal Pradesh it is remaining only in eight police stations.

We are leaving no stone unturned to protect our sisters and brothers of the North-East. Police infrastructure is being strengthened across the region. Wherever needed, additional India Reserve Battalions are being raised.

It is extremely anguishing when misguided youngsters are drawn to violence. We want to bring these youngsters back to the mainstream, so that they can contribute to the development of India. In the North-East, there is the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy. We revised the policy in April 2018 so that more youngsters who turned to militancy come back to the mainstream.

Like I explained in the context of Maoist violence, the emphasis on development is reaping rich dividends.

The ministry dealing with the North-East is fully immersed in facilitating the all-round growth of the region. In fact, a system is in place which ensures that every 15 days a minister or a senior official visits the North-East. I have made about 30 trips to the region myself.

Swarajya: The North-East is also getting better connected to the rest of India…

Modi: Connectivity gives a big boost to the development of a region. It was our government that had the honour of putting Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya on the railway map of India.

Furthermore, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura are also on broad-gauge map of the country.

A few weeks ago, the first commercial flight in three decades reached Arunachal Pradesh. The road network is being expanded and waterways are being harnessed.

The Centre is devoting resources to harness the potential of the North-East in organic farming. Sikkim has done very well in this sector and the other states are also tapping the rich potential in this sector.

An improved security situation combined with a push for development is convincing people about the perils of violence and instability. It is also fulfilling the aspirations of the youth of the state.

(To read the next segment, click here)

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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