Union minister opposes use of armed forces against Maoists

Kolkata, Oct 25 (IANS) Dubbing left-wing extremism as a “socio-economic issue”, union minister V.K. Singh on Sunday said he was opposed to the use of the armed forces in tackling Maoists in the various states.

“Armed forces need to be deployed wherever the country’s borders are concerned or in regions where people endeavour to secede from the Indian union,” said the minister of state for external affairs.

“This (Maoism) is a socio-economic problem; an issue concerning lack of infrastructure and others and the existing resources are sufficient to tackle them,” said the former army chief while addressing a function at Raj Bhavan here after the release of the Hindi version of his autobiography.

Recalling a meeting with the then union home minister P. Chidambaram in the aftermath of the 2010 Maoist attack in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh in which 76 troopers were killed, V.K. Singh said he then rejected the minister’s suggestion for the deployment of the army to tackle the rebels.

“During the meeting, Chidambaram asked me why don’t you allow deployment of the army in Naxal-affected areas? To which I replied, the job of the armed forces is not to fire on their own countrymen,” he said.

“The minister (Chidambaram) did not like my opinion and since then he hasn’t spoken to me,” V.K. Singh said.

“There are instances in life when you need to state facts in clear terms and in this book I have done that,” asserted V.K. Singh, whose controversial remark on the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana attracted widespread condemnation.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India-Marxist activists waved black flags at V.K. Singh during his arrival at the city airport and also staged a demonstration outside the Raj Bhavan over his recent remark.

Shouting “V.K. Singh go back” and “V.K. Singh shame shame”, the activists also burnt the former army chief’s effigy and demanded his sacking from the union cabinet.

V.K. Singh though remained unfazed.

“I don’t consider it a demonstration, where 20-odd hired people shout slogans,” he told mediapersons.

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