Maharashtra mulling Chhattisgarh-like special security act to tackle Naxalism

The Maharashtra government is mulling over enacting a special Public Security Act, on the lines of Chhattisgarh, to tackle Naxalism in the state, say reports. Cabinet Minister Eknath Shinde on January 2 called a meeting to discuss the internal security issues prevailing in the Naxal belt of Maharashtra. Chhattisgarh had passed the Special Public Security Act in 2006. The Act was named “draconian” by various human rights activists and civil society groups as the law empowered the state police to detain a person for “committing acts that pose as an obstacle to the administration of law”.

Rights groups, at that time, had alleged that Act is a “perfect example of legislation enacted in the garb of security and protection, leading to increased repression and suppression of peoples rights”. After the meeting, Shinde said, “To tackle naxalism in the state, we are considering a Public Security Act on the lines of Chhattisgarh. The Chhattisgarh law should be studied. After discussions with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Public Security Act will be introduced in Maharashtra.”

Shinde added that the government plans to set up a task force – comprising 30 percent security personnel and 70 percent engineers – to complete the pending construction of roads and bridges in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur – districts that are considered to be hotbeds of Naxalism in Maharashtra. “The state will also draft a policy to give incentives to government employees who work in these areas,” Shinde said. Meanwhile, Lara Jesani, advocate and member of People’s Union of Civil Liberties, said that such an act would only lead to “state repression” and “infringement of people’s rights”. “We condemn this move and urge the government to take back this decision,” she said.