In a rather frank admission, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday opined that “Urban Naxals” weren’t a big threat to the country, stating that people were free to follow any ideology or philosophy.
“People can believe in whatever ideology or philosophy they want to follow but we will not allow anyone to promote violence," he said at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. His remarks have come at a time when Modi government is drawing scathing criticism over the arrests of several leading public intellectuals and left-leaning activists.
In the midst of a raging controversy over the arrest of five activists with alleged Maoist links, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, however, maintained that the government can not allow anyone to promote violence in the country.
"Our government has been successful in weeding out Naxals or Maoism from many districts in the country. There are people who fled from there and are trying to incite violence or support violence using Maoism in cities. They are trying to attract people through Maoist ideology,” he said.
He added 'Urban Naxal' problem was not a big threat and he did not want to hype the issue. "Government wants to check it in the initial stage," he said.
Singh dismissed allegations that the arrest of five activists by Pune Police in the Bhima Koregaon case in August was an act done without proper investigation or that the arrests were linked to their ideology.
"If it was so, the Supreme Court would not have given the police a free hand," he said.
The apex court had on September 28 allowed investigation officers to continue with their inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year, and also extended the house arrest of the activists by four weeks.
Activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao were arrested in August as part of an inquiry into violence during an event in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
Noting that Maoism is the biggest challenge, Singh said the Centre has succeeded in containing the menace to a great extent now.
“Naxalism has created a lot of trouble and is acting as a big hurdle in the development of the country. It was spread in 126 districts and now has come down to just 50-52 districts and among them the worst hit is just 10 to 12 districts. Though there is 50 per cent reduction in such incidents in last four years, it would take more time to erase it completely,” he said.
Speaking about insurgency in the North East , Singh remarked: "I hope the Naga accord is carried forward and Thuingaleng Muivah (the present General Secretary of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland) will recover soon."
On incidents of mob killings, the Home Minister said even though the law and order is a state subject, the central government has issued a number of advisories to the states asking them to take action.
Commenting on the recent agitation by farmers, Singh said the government has given some promise to the protesting farmers and those will be fulfilled.
"I have invited the protesting farmers and had discussions with them for two-three hours. We have been in touch with the farmers. I spoke to them when they were agitating. We are still in touch with them and are arriving at a consensus on many matters," he said.
With IANS inputs