Naxal threat, Assam violence top security review agenda

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will next week review the security situation in the country with top police officers at a high-level conference in the backdrop of fresh statistics that indicate the number of districts under naxal influence had increased over the last one year.

Recent violence in Assam and subsequent exodus of north eastern people from different parts of the country, threats posed by activities in cyber world, increased infiltration attempts from across the Indo-Pak border and ongoing operations against Maoists will be high on the agenda during the three- day conference beginning here on September 6.

But the conference, the first to be attended by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, will be an opportunity for the new minister to articulate his position on the key internal security challenges.

This is particularly true of the government’s policy on naxalism, something that has undergone a nuanced shift during P Chidambaram’s stint as the home minister who recognised that security had to precede development in these areas.

The conference also comes at a time when fresh statistics indicate the government’s success in reducing the number of districts under naxal control might have been too optimistic.

According to the home ministry, the number of districts under naxal influence had declined from a high of 223 districts in 2008 to a little over 180 in 2011. The government, however, recently revised its assessment and declared that 203 districts were under the influence of naxals. This list includes three northeastern states Arunachal, Assam and Tripura.

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