The Centre and the Naxalism-affected states on Monday resolved to jointly fight the Left Wing Extremism, with Home Minister Amit Shah declaring that the Maoists are against the idea of democracy and will be uprooted, officials said.
Chief ministers Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Raghubar Das (Jharkhand), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), besides top police and civil officials of 10 Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected states, attended the meeting where ongoing operations against Naxals and development initiatives were reviewed.
The state governments and the Centre resolved to fight the Maoist menace jointly, a home ministry official said. "Had a very fruitful meeting with the CMs of the LWE affected states. Discussed several issues related to the security & development of these states. Left Wing Extremism is against the idea of democracy and under the leadership of PM @narendramodi we are committed to uproot it," Shah tweeted after the meeting.
Top officials of paramilitary forces and the home ministry also attended the meeting, first-of-its-kind after Shah assumed charge as home minister about three months ago. The 10 Naxal-hit states are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Shah said LWE organistions are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic process at ground level. "They actively seek to prevent development in the least developed regions of the country. Their strategy is to misguide people and keep them ignorant," he stated.
The home minister noted that the basis of the prime minister's vision of a 'New India' is the strength of holistic, last-mile development, and it is therefore essential to get rid of the menace of Naxal violence.
Shah asserted that India's fight against those who try to subvert democracy with violence would continue relentlessly. He observed that states play a key role in maintaining law and order, therefore, a synergy between the Centre and the states can effectively address the issue of LWE.
"Though incidents of LWE violence have come down, focus needs to be kept to eliminate it completely and all efforts need to be maintained by the Centre and states in full pace," he said. The home minister also focused on the need to check flow of funds to LWE organisations, and praised the states for the steps taken by them.
Addressing the meeting, Bihar CM Kumar said the fight against Left Wing Extremism was a joint responsibility of the Centre as well as the states. Kumar flagged the need for a change in the existing policy which put the entire financial burden of deployment of central forces in the Naxalism-affected areas on the state governments concerned.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel demanded more funds from the Centre to combat Left Wing Extremism in the state and said his government will eliminate the menace through development policies as well as providing security and generating trust among the people. He talked about various issues related to security, coordination between states and development.
Uttar Pradesh CM Adityanath said Naxal activities are fully under control in the state and the wheel of development is moving even in the areas affected by the menace. Adityanath said the state is benefiting from the information exchange with bordering states.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das said several top Naxal leaders have surrendered under the popular surrender and rehabilitation policy for the Naxalites to join the mainstream.
Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Narendra Singh Tomar, Arjun Munda and Mahendra Nath Pandey also joined the meeting later in the day and discussed with the chief ministers issues concerning roads, telecommunication, agriculture and others, another official said.
In his address, the home minister assured the state governments that the Centre would cooperate fully in eliminating LWE. He said that the time has come for the security forces to formulate a proactive strategy to deal with the issue and it is necessary to prevent LWE incidents at all costs.
Shah said innovative measures need to be employed to prevent IED (Improvised Explosive Device) incidents that have caused significant number of casualties in recent years. Talking about the national strategy to counter LWE formed in 2015, Shah said it was a multi-pronged approach consisting of security, development and ensuring participatory governance and rights for local tribals.
He said under this strategy, the protection of the rights of local citizens is the priority. Shah urged the states to adopt a focused, time-bound approach to completely eliminate LWE and ensure all-round development of affected regions. The home minister said the last few years have seen a decline in number of districts that saw LWE incidents, and the number of incidents as well.
From the high 2,258 events of LWE violence in 2009, the events have come down to 833 in 2018. The number of deaths dropped from 1005 in 2009 to 240 in 2018. The number of districts affected by Naxal violence has come down from 96 in 2010 to 60 in 2018, he said.