Finally, there may be redress to a problem that lit many a Maoist spark: ending the punishment meted out to forest dwellers for collecting forest produce to meet their livelihood.
On Monday, Union minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh said that section 68 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, is likely to be amended. This particular section has been used for long to harass people who dwell close to forests. Very often, such is the level of violence and intimidation that Maoist rebels just have to walk into an area to be welcomed by the locals.
Such steps involving rationalization of laws, rather than the sterile “development vs security” debate, are needed to bring order in lawless forest regions.
Had such steps been taken earlier, operations against Maoists would have been more successful than they are now and much of the support the latter find would not have existed.