Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the security situation in all the 10 Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected States on Monday.
Mr. Shah said LWE has no place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of New India. He said LWE organisations were against “democratic institutions,” used violence and prevented development in the least developed regions of the country.
The Minister asked States to rationalise their surrender policy to mainstream “innocent individuals caught in the trap of LWE violence.”
He said innovative measures need to be employed to prevent Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents that have caused significant number of casualties this year.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel told Mr. Shah during the meeting that the State government had started withdrawing “fraud cases” registered against tribals.
After coming to power in 2018, the Congress-led Chhattisgarh government announced that all cases registered against the tribals in the past 15 years when the State was ruled by the BJP, would be reviewed.
In his presentation, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar protested that “stoppage of funding for Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS)” by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will “adversely affect the ongoing development work in the LWE-affected districts,” and urged that the scheme should continue.
Mr. Kumar, an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, also protested against the MHA’s move to reduce funding under the modernisation of police forces (MPF) scheme. He charged that “fight against LWE is a joint responsibility of Centre and State and therefore, the financial burden should also be shared by both.”
Mr. Shah said LWE cannot be eradicated without the vigilance and efficiency of the local police and asked the States to use central schemes and their own budget for police modernisation.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das expressed caution on withdrawing central armed police forces (CAPF) from the State.
“LWE is on its last legs in Jharkhand and to keep up the momentum against the Maoists, it is imperative their deployment is not reduced for the next two-three years. Recently some Central forces were pulled out of the State on a temporary basis and there is a proposal to withdraw some forces permanently,” Mr. Das said. Jharkhand is scheduled to hold Assembly elections later this year.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. Other top government officials were also present. The Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Telangana and Maharashtra stayed away.
Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath asked the Centre to provide 4G mobile connectivity in two LWE-affected districts — Balaghat and Mandla. Mr. Nath said the communication network in these Maoist-affected areas was heavily dependent on police wireless systems, and due to poor telephone and mobile network coverage, 50% tribal blocks only had 2G connectivity.
Mr. Shah said there has been a sharp decline in the number of LWE related incidents, from 2,258 incidents reported in 2009 it had come down to 833 in 2018. The number of killings dropped from 1,005 in 2009 to 240 in 2018. The number of districts affected by LWE violence had reduced from 96 in 2010 to 60 districts in 2018.