Report by Rashmi R Parida and Kamala Kanta Dash; New Delhi: Biju Janata Dal Lok Sabha MP Baijyant 'Jay' Panda says a coordinated policy approach is the need of the hour to deal with the Maoist menace. In the backdrop of recent instances of Maoist abductions, the state and the centre have fallen short of a tactical response.
Here Mr. Panda feels that India needs a comprehensive policy on hostage crisis management. Arguing in favour of both a security and developmental approach from the centre and state, he has identified the lack of road and rail networks in the Maoist affected areas as one of the key reasons that constrain economic development reaching these areas which in turn help fuel Maoist propaganda and radicalization. He has urged the union government to develop rail infrastructure in Naxal affected areas.
He said despite the decline in the cases of Maoist related incidents in state, high profile cases of abduction make picture look more uglier. High profile cases like abduction of Vineel Krishna in 2011 and 2 Italians and MLA Hikaka this year give impression that everything is going wrong. He accepts that this is a matter of big concern but feels that everything is not going wrong. He has defended Odisha government's multi-pronged initiatives to deal with Maoists and is confident that in future a coordinated policy approach will help in dealing with such situations.
Over tackling this issue, he said government has to follow and implement the already pronounced two pronged strategy. Some people argue it is only a security issue and some other assert that it is a developmental one. But in reality it is both. He refuted the charges that Odisha Government is not doing enough developmental work in the tribal region. He asked if government did not work on development how could Maoists incidence drop down in these areas. Both developmental works taken up and security strengthened by the government has contributed to the dramatic decrease of Maoists incidents. He wants us to take note of the road project undertaken in tribal districts and how there has been push up in this regard in last few years. CM Naveen Patnaik personally perusing at the Prime Minister's level for a major highway to cut through all the way to Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh that would touch all the tribal districts in that region. Mr. Panda wants to draw our attention to look at the improved connectivity between Western Odisha and coastal Odisha. It is true that there has been significant improvement in recent years. In last few years government has constructed a number of bridges and improved road condition in Tribal districts.
Over the issue of negligence of Centre, he said that, we need joint action with the central government to tackle this menace. He elaborated on the important point of lack of rail connection in the areas that have been affected by Maoist operations. All Maoist districts have this thing in common; no rail network. Mr. Panda made it clear that we don't need Railways just for the industry but for common people of these areas. He further expands the need of railways for farming and strongly believes that farming economy of Western Odisha and KBK districts will be become much more sustainable once we have infrastructure and connectivity like road and rail.
Mr. Panda's research establishes that Odisha has one of the low density rail networks per square kilometer in comparison to some of her neighbours. This is not very well known in the public. This does not come as a surprise as successive railway ministers have given scant attention to Odisha's needs and problems. The Kendrapara MP strongly feels the need to remedy this anomaly. In addition, he revealed that Odisha has asked the centre for more helicopters and more troops. Arguing in favour of a joint and coordinated policy approach to deal with hostage situations, Mr. Panda advocates to learn from our own and other international models. He strongly believes that India with its inclusive economic growth and democratic public sphere has enough space for dissent. However, India needs be to ready to tackle Maoist violence and for this he wants to send an urgent call to the government and all other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive policy so as to discourage Maoist violence and hostage situations.