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UK-based rights activist and experts condemn Maoist menace in India

London, Wed, 02 May 2012 ANI

London, May 2 (ANI): Experts have described Maoists as the growing threat to India's internal security, and one of the ways it can be tackled is by focussing on inclusive growth in areas under their influence.

While the Indian Government has described the Maoists as the biggest threat to the country, Peter Tatchell, the director of the London-based Peter Tatchell Foundation, strongly condemned the violation of human rights in Naxal-affected areas of India, particularly in the tribal belt.

"Human rights abuses by the Naxalites are absolutely wrong, absolutely and totally unacceptable and not to be supportedunder any circumstances. But the grievances they address are legitimate. It's their method that is wrong," claimed Tatchell. His foundation works to support social justice struggles in many parts of the world including Pakistan, Uganda, Iran and West Papua.

Tatchell further said that he favored a non-violent Gandhian 'people power' revolution to empower India's poor and dispossessed; arguing that the methods used by the Naxalities were "not always consistent with their professed humanitarian goals. In any revolution against tyranny and injustice, the methods used must be consistent with the liberation movement's emancipation goals."

"I condemn human rights abuses, whether by the Indian security forces or by the Maoist rebels. The injustices the Naxaliteshighlight are real and grave. They are right to defend the poor. I disagree with some of their attacks that have reportedly involved civilian casualties. The Indian police and army are also guilty of human rights abuses.

They stand accused of suppressing popular protests and abusing the human rights of Maoists and their sympathisers. I favour a non-violent Gandhian 'people power' revolution to empower India's poor and dispossessed, to end hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy and preventable diseases," said Tatchell.

Incidents of extorting money from mining companies and other businesses are frequently reported. Naxals have also blown up schools and railway tracks, besides establishing parallel control in certain areas of various states of the Indian Union.

Kidnappings for ransom and release of prisoners has become the latest modus operandi of the Naxals. They have kidnapped nearly 1,300 people since April 2009, and killed 281 of them in captivity, including 94 in Chhattisgarh.

The kidnapping of two Italian hostages in Odisha ended after a month. The crisis over the abduction of Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon in Chattisgarh is still on, though the state government has said that it expects him to be released within the next 48 hours.

Experts believe that promoting development-related initiatives is the only solution to countering the Naxal problem in India.

"India needs to focus on fair distribution of resources and requires a long-term approach. The solution to naxalites is the focus on inclusive growth," said Dr. Garethrice, Senior Research Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House, London.

The anti-development approach of the Naxals hampers government-run developmental projects. (ANI)

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