New Delhi: Naxalism is a wake up call for the country, former Union home secretary G K Pillai said, while blaming poor governance for the rise in the problem.

"Maoism or Naxalism is a wake up call for India's democracy. I think today the major political parties in India have still not realised the magnitude of the problem. They have not woken up to the fact that this is a very serious problem which has to be tackled not just by security, not just by development, but also by very serious political management of the situation," Pillai said.

He was speaking at a round table discussion on 'State's Response to Hostage Situations' organised by the India Foundation on Thursday.

Blaming the rise of Naxalism on poor governance, he said that the ratio of government services to the population is extremely poor.

"There are many basic developmental issues which we have left unresolved for long and it forces people to look for the other ways and gives rise to Naxalism. We have serious issues of governance," he said.

"It is a wake up call for democracy, it is a wake up call for the state governments and the central government. There is shortage of teachers, doctors, nurses; you have to get that act together and if you do not, you get into trouble."

Echoing his sentiments, former chief secretary, government of Madhya Pradesh, Nirmala Buch, who played a crucial role in securing the release of abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon, said there is a problem of grievance redressal mechanism.

"The problem is not just of development. There is lack of grievance redressal mechanism," Buch said, adding if someone has a problem, where does he go to?

"When the system fails in addressing his problem, he looks outside the law," she said.

Calling for more specialised approach to tackle the Naxal menace, Pillai said: "It is not the average policeman, who is doing the normal policing duty... he is not going to be able to take on the Maoists; you need special forces who are specialised in general warfare and can take on the Maoists and do the offensive operations."

While conceding that wiping the problem of Naxalism from the country will take some time, he said: "It is going to take a few years to tackle the problem, because we have allowed them a headstart."

Calling for harshly dealing with any hostage situation, he said the state should not give in to their demands.

"Government must put a policy on hostage situations. I must confess we don't have a real policy unlike in hijacking situations. I think a clear message should go in such situations, a clear and stern political signal. The state should not give in," he said.

"The authorities have to negotiate with the Naxals, but a clear message should be sent across that causing any harm to hostages would mean a death warrant of the people whose release is being sought. The Naxals won't come to talks unless severe pressure is exerted on them," he added.

Nirmala Buch lamented the fact that there is virtually no choice for the state while dealing with a hostage situation.

"It is a difficult task for the people who are dealing with such a situation. There is virtually no choice for the state as there is tremendous pressure from all sides especially from the media," she said.

Former DGP, Chattisgarh Vishwa Ranjan also reiterated that any offencive against naxals must be followed immediately by lot of development.

"Lot of development is not taking place immediately after a certain area is cleared of Naxals," Ranjan said, adding that this gives people the excuse to support Naxals.

Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra on the occasion lashed out at what he called as "over-ground Maoist sympathisers" saying that it is unfortunate that the respected people of the society are supporting Maoist movement. A documentary on Maoism 'The Red Terror' was released on the occasion.


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