Andhra trying to stem violence peacefully

Hyderabad, February 11:

The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which is facing Naxalite violence for years, is now more than ever committed to fighting out the menace by introducing socio-economic measures even as the other means of counteracting the violence are still in vogue.

The latest efforts go back to May 2004, when the government had decided to adopt what is being identified here as a “humanistic approach towards negotiation for peace.”

However, whether the scheme is working or not could not be independently ascertained.

“We initiated a negotiation process with the Naxalites. It is different matter that they did not come for second round. This has left us to adopt more humanistic approach,” said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Raj Shekhar Reddy while addressing the inaugural session of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) in the scenic location of the Film City today.

Under the “humanistic approach”, the Reddy government has distributed 325 thousand hectares of agricultural land to the landless section of the rural population in two phases in the last one year.

Add to it infrastructure building in remote parts of the state, which include roads, medical and educational facilities.

“We feel that mere propagation of democratic ideals is not going to help much, leave alone throwing up results. The greater need is to empower the people both politically and economically,” Reddy further said. Reddy also underscored the fact that “the more organised the violence, the greater the need for fool-proof security measures from the government. All this involves spending huge amount of money that can be better spent for the welfare of the people.”

He also shed light on violent forces working against the State in one form or the other. Referring to Sri Lanka and Nepal in passing in the context of protracted insurgency in both the countries, Reddy insisted that the efforts should be aimed at addressing basic problems. Naxalite movement in the state goes back to 40 years.

Meanwhile, the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) conference got underway here today, with presentation from regional language journalists from respective member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).