Decisive turn in fight against Maoists: Amit Shah
- The jawans were killed in a gunfight with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region as the ultras ambushed the forces after possibly luring them to an area near the Bijapur-Sukma border.
Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday said the sacrifice of 22 security personnel killed in a Maoist ambush over the weekend will be remembered for taking the battle against the extremists to a “decisive turn”, and said that the counter-insurgency battle will be intensified to take it to a “logical end”.
The jawans were killed in a gunfight with Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region as the ultras ambushed the forces after possibly luring them to an area near the Bijapur-Sukma border. The team was attacked when it was out on a combing operation in a forest area.
Shah, who visited Chhattisgarh on Monday to review the situation and to pay tributes to those killed in the encounter, chaired a high-level meet at Jagdalpur, the headquarters of Bastar district. Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior officials of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were present at the meeting.
The home minister said that he wanted to assure people that the fight against Maoists will end in a victory. “Their (the jawans’) supreme sacrifices will not go in vain, and the country will always remember their sacrifice for taking this battle to a decisive turn. In the last few years, the fight against the Maoists has reached a decisive turn and this unfortunate incident has taken the fight two steps ahead,” Shah said.
“I want to assure the country that this fight [against Maoists] will not stop... it will continue with more intensity. In this fight, our victory is definite in the end,” Shah said. The Union minister said he paid tributes to the martyred personnel on behalf of the country, the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In Jagdalpur, Shah paid his last respects at the Police Lines, where the mortal remains of 14 jawans were kept in coffins draped with the national flag. Other than Shah, Baghel and senior officials also laid wreaths on the coffins.
The latest Maoist attack took place between Jonaguda and Tekalguda villages along the border of Sukma and Bijapur districts in the Bastar region. Out of the 22 fatalities, CRPF lost eight men, including seven commandos of the CoBRA (CRPF’s elite unit) and one jawan of the Bastariya battalion; eight of the other deceased were from the District Reserve Guard (DRG), and six from the Special Task Force (STF).
Shah also visited the Basaguda camp of CRPF in Bijapur and later met injured jawans at Raipur hospitals. Thirty-one security personnel were injured in the ambush.
The home minister said that, in the review meeting, officials suggested that the intensity of the fight against Maoists should not be hampered, which reflected that the morale of the forces was intact and high.
“In the last five-six years, we have achieved success in setting up camps of security forces in the interior areas. Both the central and state governments have been jointly making inroads (into Maoist strongholds). Therefore, such incidents came to the fore out of their (Maoists’) frustration,” Shah said.
“On the development front, too, several works have been done. Although due to Covid-19, the pace slowed down a little, but I believe that action is being taken on all suggestions received from tribal public representatives, the Chief Minister and MPs from the state,” he added.
He said the central and state governments have been working on both fronts – to expedite the development work in tribal areas and intensified action against the ultras.
Prime Minister Modi has already fixed the priority to take this fight to a logical end, he said. Chief minister Baghel said more steps will follow in the future to counter Maoism in the state. “In the last few years, we have managed to establish camps in their core area and more camps will be opened soon. The development works will also be accelerated in the area,” Baghel said.
After paying tribute to the security personnel, the CM said the government was with the families of the martyred jawans.
Intelligence inputs showed that between 12 and 20 Maoists may have been killed in the encounter.
One jawan was still missing after the attack, an official said on condition of anonymity. The security agencies were working to ascertain a claim made by Maoists that they abducted a CoBRA commando after the Saturday ambush, an official told PTI. An official said they have “reasons to believe” that this claim, made over phone on Sunday evening to a journalist based in Bijapur by a purported Maoist group, could be true, the news agency reported.
He said multiple units of the security forces were still out in the jungles to look for the commando who hails from Jammu, and also to intercept the movement of the Maoists.
With inputs from PTI