THENI (TN): In a novel attempt to curb Naxal movement from spreading its wings in Tamil Nadu, police have 'adopted' 300 villages bordering the state and are providing them basic amenities to improve their lives, according to a top police official.
Speaking at a function at nearby Varushanadu after distributing welfare schemes to tribals, DGP Letika Saran said the villages would be adopted in phases. She expressed confidence that the scheme would thwart any attempt by Naxals to again intrude the territory after a failed effort to set up an arms training camp at Murugamalai in 2007.
The function also saw police receive petitions from tribals to assess their needs and being given cattle and sheep and some basic amenities like soaps and toothpaste.
In a bid to bring about a sense of camaraderie,police had food and tea with the tribals, assured them that their rights would be safeguarded and urged them to educate themselves to better their prospects in life.
Police sources said enhanced basic amenities would be provided to 300 villages in the first phase of a total of 471 identified villages. Villagers were being given milch animals, as also ration cards and blankets in the hope it would help them improve their standard of living, they said.
A top police official, requesting anonymity, said the idea took shape after they found some villagers possessing gadgets and watches. Enquiries revealed they had got it from Naxals, whom they used to help enter and exit jungles, which have myriad pathways.
Two tribals Karimalai and Easwary,who received benefits, were unsure whether villagers could provide police with information on movement of strangers without facilities like phones. They said they were scared of 'threats' by such people against revealing anything and sought protection from police and help from forest officials to improve their economic conditions.
NGOs dealing with tribals felt the Naxal problem could be solved with proper policing and not such schemes. Moreover, tribals should be allowed to enjoy the forest produce and the herbs they cultivate. Only if they move deep inside the forests would they know about movement of naxals, they said.
-- India was the richest country on earth till the British invasion in the 17th century.