India’s new Minister of Home Affairs, which oversees internal security, has said his focus would be on countering the naxal (Maoist insurgents) movement and improving the security architecture.
Rajnath Singh said in New Delhi that internal threats to the security of Indian citizens, now exceeding 1.2 billion of perhaps the most varied country in the world, is his top priority.
Keen to fast-track key issues, the Minister directed his officials to come up with out “of the box ideas” for internal security, the restive North-East region and the yet volatile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said this should also contain ideas to resolve border disputes with neighbouring countries without compromising national interests.
Naxalism or widespread leftwing extremism and political violence has gripped vast swathes of land in central and eastern India, establishing a so-called “red corridor”, in many resource-rich regions where tensions run high between poor farmers and industrial developers.
Thousands have been killed in the insurgency since the late 1960s.
Outgoing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed the Maoists India’s “greatest internal security challenge”.
The new Bharatiya Janata Party government in New Delhi faces the challenge of balancing the demands of mining, industrialization and the rights of India’s poor and the adivasis (indigenous tribes)
Officials say the struggle aims to overthrow the Indian state through a protracted armed campaign.
The Maoists say their targets include “eco-imperialist exploitation” by multinational companies, and the “social oppression” of India’s caste system.