An eye for an eye, a bullet for a bullet is the stand Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has taken after last week’s Naxal attack, nearly eliminating the Chhattisgrah Congress top leadership. On Saturday, Shinde briefed the Congress core group on the Naxal menace, with indications that the Home Ministry may take the final call on taking Army help to eliminate Red terror after discussing with the state governments on June 5 at the Chief Ministers’ conference in New Delhi.
The Home Minister is learnt to have briefed the Congress core group, which includes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, on the attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, as the Naxals claimed another victim -- CRPF deputy commandant S K Das.
After the attack at Sukma on May 25, it was unprecedented that the Prime Minister should order the National Investigation Agency to rush to Chhattisgarh within 24 hours to probe the massacre at a time when the Home Minister was away. This was prompted by frantic pleas from the families of the slain Congress leaders that a political conspiracy to eliminate the top Congress leadership in the state was in effect. Both Mahendra Karma and Nandkumar Patel were chief ministerial candidates in the event of the Congress winning the elections in October 2013.
When Shinde went to the state, he had visited the families of the slain leaders where he made the statement that Naxalites were not driven by ideology but the intent to eliminate all Congress leaders in the region. In short, the Congress itself was the Naxals’ main target. Shinde promptly returned to Delhi and conveyed this to the High Command.
But the newly turned hawk hadn’t lost the common sense of the pacifist either. While talking of the UPA Government’s two-pronged strategy - the gun and development - to tackle red terror, Shinde also asked for additional funds to develop road infrastructure in the worst Naxal-affected areas.
Sources said an additional Rs 9,000 crore was needed for connectivity in affected areas. The main problem in quicker implementation of road works was security.