Q If central forces start operations against Maoists, what implications do you see for Karnataka? A In our state, Naxal activity is on a very small scale. It is not like in some other states. Our state is also not included in the national list of Naxal-hit states. Even at a high-level meeting on Naxals, we were told it wasn't necessary for us to attend, as Karnataka was not considered a Naxal-affected state. I say it as home minister and please take that seriously.
What will be the state's policy on Naxals if the new offensive starts?
With or without central offensive, we have on our own been acting against Naxals. We are duty-bound to act against them. If we receive a circular on the new plans or any directions are issued, we will follow them.
What is your perception of the Centre's new plans?
Let the Centre be clear and firm in their policy. They should go the whole hog against Naxals or else the problem won't be solved. There seems to be dilly-dallying. One day, they say the military will be involved, the next day they retract. One day, they say IAF helicopters will be involved, the next day PM says no. What is this? Naxals can only be put down with a firm hand. The planned offensive against Naxals is good. Better late than never. But some states require more urgent assistance than we do.
Is Naxalism a serious problem in the state?
There isn't much Naxal activity in Karnataka, except for the occasional eruption of violence and death. It is restricted to a few pockets.
What is your view on `Naxal sympathisers'?
We are keeping a watch over them. We have even arrested some sympathisers, some of whom are tribals. Observation will continue.
Is the Naxal movement a development or law-and-order issue?
(Naxal activity &) Development is all nonsense. We will deal with it purely as a law-and-order issue.
Naxal movement doesn't have anything to do with social justice?
Nothing. Is killing innocent people social justice? They talk of high thoughts to camouflage bad deeds. We have zero-tolerance to violence from any quarter -- left-wing extremism or extortionists. India is a democracy and there are opportunities to protest in democratic ways. Violence has no place in a democracy.
How would you understand Naxalism?
Naxalism is a foolish, blind act. Madness. It is hysteria created by a group of misguided youth who don't have respect for law and democracy. I am a doctor and I would prescribe treatment to them. They have been struggling for 40 years and what have they achieved? A futile exercise. It has not reached, and will not reach, any logical conclusion. Some who have been arrested admit to us that it is all a wasted effort.
Any special development plans for Naxal-prone districts?
Some action is being taken. Local officials are looking into social and developmental issues so that no murmur crops up in the name of Naxal activity. We are trying to reach facilities to interior villages. The rural development minister has already visited some villages and action is under way.
Is backwardness related to Naxalism?
I am very clear -- we don't want to give the impression that it is due to backwardness that the Naxal movement has started. Facilities will be provided to all backward districts anyway.
How would you solve the Naxal issue in the long term?
We are very confident we will solve the issue soon. Our forces are on alert and are watching people involved in Naxal activity. There is absolutely no dearth of money or manpower. As home minister, I have to be clear -- you are with the law or you are not. If you are not with the law, I will have to act as per law.
Is the door shut on talks with Naxals?
The door is always open. If you don't knock on it to get an opportunity, what can we do? We have always said and I say even now, that if Naxals lay down weapons and come for talks, we will bring them back to the mainstream. We will rehabilitate them and give them an honourable living.