India Edging Maoists From Mineral-Laden Land, Chidambaram Says


Palaniappan Chidambaram (1)

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Indian police for years have abused civilians in the fight against the Maoists, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. While India’s Supreme Court in October ordered an independent probe into allegations that police in Chhattisgarh tortured and sexually assaulted a schoolteacher whom they accused of links to the rebels, “authorities have not initiated any inquiry or criminal action against the police officers implicated,” Human Rights Watch said in a Jan. 31 statement.

February 01, 2012, 1:52 PM EST

By James Rupert and Bibhudatta Pradhan

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) — India is winning command over mineral-rich areas where Maoist guerrilla attacks deter billions of dollars in potential investment, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said, one year after he declared the conflict deadlocked.

“Albeit slowly, we are gaining control of the situation,” reversing Maoist advances that began after 2004, Chidambaram said in a 40-minute interview on counter-terrorism, Pakistan and prospects for expanding foreign investment in India’s economy. “The earlier estimate that in three to four years we will be able to gain ascendancy was an optimistic estimate,” he said. “That I am willing to concede.”

Chidambaram told a conference in 2009 that reinforced police battalions in heavily forested Maoist enclaves would eliminate a rebel-run zone whose area is as big as Portugal. On Feb. 1 last year, he described “a kind of stalemate” in the insurgency, which blocks mining of bauxite, iron and other minerals. Execution Noble Ltd., a London-based financial services company, said in 2010 that the region had the potential to draw $80 billion of investment.

The minister declined to specify what period now may be needed to defeat the rebels beyond saying “it will take a few more years.” He spoke in his high-ceilinged office in the red sandstone secretariat built a century ago as the seat of Britain’s colonial government.

Chidambaram, 66, a lawyer and Harvard Business School graduate from India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most prominent members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.

Record Growth

As finance minister from 2004 until 2008, Chidambaram oversaw record economic growth that averaged 8.5 percent a year. Singh moved him to the Home Ministry amid public anger over the 2008 attack on Mumbai by 10 Pakistani guerrillas that killed 166 people.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: To Ask or Not To Ask: A Few Thoughts On The Garhwa Landmine Blast « kracktivist

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