Govt will end Maoist menace, says Amit Shah on Chhattisgarh visit
The home minister also chaired a meeting to review the security situation arising out of the Maoist attack. Later, he said, “I want to assure the country that this fight will not be stopped, rather it will continue with more intensity till the end. In this fight, our victory is definite in the end”
The government is determined to end Maoist menace, said Union home minister Amit Shah on Monday during his visit to Chhattisgarh following the gunfight in Bastar which left 22 security personnel dead and at least two dozen others injured. He also chaired a meeting that was attended by chief minister Bhupesh Baghel, and senior officials of the state police, and the Central Reserve Police Force, to review the security situation arising out of the Maoist attack.
In Jagdalpur, Shah paid his last respects at the Police Lines, where the mortal remains of 14 personnel were kept in coffins draped with the national flag.
Besides Shah, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and other dignitaries were also present for the wreath-laying ceremony. Later, tweeting about it in Hindi, he said, “Paid tributes to the brave security personnel who were martyred while fighting the naxalites at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh.”
“The country will never forget your bravery and sacrifice. The whole country stands behind the bereaved families. We are determined to take the ongoing fight against the unrest created by the Naxals to its logical conclusion,” he said.
After the review meeting at the Police Coordination Centre in Jagdalpur, Shah said that the fight against Maoists will be intensified to end the menace. “I want to assure the country that this fight will not be stopped, rather it will continue with more intensity till the end. In this fight, our victory is definite in the end,” Shah said.
Speaking to journalists after the review meeting, Baghel said the fight against Maoists will continue. “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,” he said.
After paying tribute to the security forces personnel in Jagdalpur, the CM said, “I salute their sacrifice and express my condolences to their families. Our forces have fought bravely with courage causing huge damage to the Maoists.”
He said that Maoists are rattled because the forces are going to establish a new camp in Tarrem area. “Central and state governments are working together to accelerate the development works in the area. Efforts are being made to provide connectivity with construction of roads and to extend the benefits of the schemes to the interior areas. Meaningful discussions have taken place in the meeting with the home minister and we are hopeful that the Centre will take appropriate steps to fulfil our demands,” said Baghel.
During his visit, Shah is also slated to meet some of the injured security personnel in hospital. At least two dozen others were injured in Saturday’s attack.
The gunfight also resulted in the death of a suspected Maoist, the police said. Intel inputs suggest that the extremists used grenade launchers in the ambush, according to home ministry and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officials. Surveillance inputs captured by a Heron drone indicated that two tractor-trolleys were used to ferry the dead extremists back into deep forests.
Chhattisgarh’s worst Maoist attack in four years also triggered a political slugfest.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the anti-Maoist operation was “incompetently” executed and “poorly designed” even as his party’s chief minister Bhupesh Baghel was already under Opposition fire for being away, campaigning in Assam.
“Our jawans are not cannon fodder to be martyred at will,” Gandhi tweeted.Citing a media report quoting CRPF Director General Kuldeep Singh as saying there was no intelligence failure in the operation and an equal number of ultras were killed, Gandhi said, “If there was no intelligence failure then a 1:1 death ratio means it was a poorly designed and incompetently executed operation.” The security personnel were ambushed on a combing operation in a forest along the border of the Bijapur and Sukma districts of the state.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh hit out at Baghel on Sunday, saying, “He is holding rallies there (in Assam), taking out marches ...dancing there ...after such a big incident ...elections have become the chief minister’s first priority...”.
While Baghel returned to Chhattisgarh on Sunday evening, his party accused the BJP of politicising the martyrdom of the personnel.
“Raman Singh should first answer what Amit Shah was doing? Was he campaigning in Assam or not? There is no need to politicise Maoist violence. We all know that Maoists are a national problem and both the state and Central governments are working on it,” said Congress spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi.
The BJP also demanded fixing of responsibility for the operation that went wrong even as the CRPF ruled out intelligence or operational failure. Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Dharamlal Kaushik, said responsibility must be fixed for the operation which went wrong despite the “input of presence of a large number of Maoists”.
In the wake of the Maoist ambush, police in neighbouring Telangana has sounded an alert and intensified combing operations and beefed up security in the bordering areas of the state.
The Telangana Police have mounted vigil particularly in Bhadradri Kothagudem and Mulugu districts, a senior police official told news agency PTI. “We are alert and regular combing operations are going on. In view of the [Chhattisgarh Maoist attack], combing has been intensified and security has been beefed up in areas (near the Telangana-Chhattisgarh border),” the official said.