Distribution of surplus land to landless tribals would be more effective than using the paramilitary forces to check Maoism, experts suggested to Saturday.
Speaking here at a round table discussion on ‘Naxalite Maoist Insurgency: A Solution’, former bureaucrats and security experts said the Maoists had come to occupy the vacant space that the government had itself created by not implementing the land reforms and failing to safeguard the rights of the tribals.
Former additional chief Secretary of West Bengal S.C. Agarwal said land reforms were more lethal an answer than the fire power of the security forces to counter the Maoists.
He said: “We know the remedy to deal with Maoist insurgency but we can’t be impatient with it.”
The former bureaucrat, who was popular among people as “Zamin Batane Wala Admi” (the man who distributes land), said even if those in the corridors of power came to appreciate the necessity of land reforms, a bigger challenge would be to put in place the land records which are non-existent in many states.
Land could not be distributed due to this reason in states like Bihar, Jharkhand or in West Bengal’s Purulia district, he said.
National Security Council member E.N. Rammohan said historically the lands in India were vested with the upper caste members and the one reason that land reforms could not get the desired thrust was that the political leadership too rested with the upper caste members.
“The upper caste owners of land also controlled the political leadership thus land reforms were not implemented,” Rammohan said.
Rammohan, a former chief of the Border Security Force, said land reforms were carried out in Russia, China and Japan but India had lagged behind in the field.
He also mocked officials of the home ministry for deploying the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the areas affected by the Maoists.
“The baton-wielding CRPF is a law and order force and cannot do the job that should be entrusted to a well-trained force like the Border Security Force,” Rammohan said.
Nandini Sundar of the Delhi School of Economics said: “Unfortunately nothing has been done.”
Calling for “political gestures and imaginative political solutions”, the sociologist said the “solutions are simple”.
The problem was with the “militarist mindset” of those in the power corridors, Sundar said.
Sundar, who successfully waged in the apex court a battle against the arming of tribals to counter Maoists in Chhattisgarh, said the government had not learnt any lessons from Pakistan’s experience with jehadis.
The sociologist said the Pakistan government had, for various reasons, set up jehadi groups and “today those very groups are training their guns back on their former mentors”.