ON July 26, independent India had its first-ever in camera meeting of a State Assembly, in Chhattisgarh. The legislators and three senior officials, the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and the Home Secretary, met for a record eight hours and 40 minutes without a break. Not even marshals were allowed to be present in the House. The discussion centred on the naxalite violence and the atrocities committed by the “people’s peace movement”, or Salwa Judum in the local Gondi language, which was meant to counter the naxals. The gravity of the situation was such that politicians could perhaps ignore it only at their own peril.
The records of the July 26 Assembly session have been kept confidential and there is nothing to suggest any action at the ground level as a result of any decision taken at the meeting. “There was complete unanimity among members that this problem should be dealt with in an apolitical manner; that no political colour should be given to the problem. All agreed that the problem must be solved as it was leading to untold suffering among the people,” Pandey said.
A positive outcome of the meeting was the consensus that the problem had to be solved irrespective of which party was in power, he said and added that it was a mandate for the government to go ahead with its anti-naxal strategy.
…But does the government have an anti-naxal strategy?