Jagdalpur/New Delhi, April 5: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said the government will intensify its ongoing fight against the Naxal menace, an assertion coming in the wake of the killing of 22 security personnel in an attack by the rebels in Chhattisgarh.
The home minister, on a visit to Chhattisgarh, also paid tributes to the security personnel killed by Naxals in the state’s Bastar region on Saturday.
Talking to reporters after chairing a high-level meeting at Jagdalpur, the headquarters of Bastar district, on the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) situation, Shah said the sacrifices of the security personnel will always be remembered for taking the battle against Naxals to a “decisive turn”.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, senior officials of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were present in the meeting.
The latest Naxal attack took place between Jonaguda and Tekalguda villages along the border of Sukma and Bijapur districts in the Bastar region. Thirty one security personnel were also injured in the ensuing gun-battle with Naxals.
The security personnel were ambushed by Naxals when they were out on a combing operation in a forest along the Bijapur and Sukma districts.
Out of the total 22 fatalities, the 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).
One jawan is still missing, officials said.
“I want to assure the country that this fight (against Naxals) will not stop… rather it will continue with more intensity. In this fight, our victory is definite in the end,” Shah asserted.
The Union minister said he paid tributes to the martyred personnel on behalf of the country, the Government of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Their supreme sacrifices will not go in vain. The country will always remember their sacrifice for taking this battle to a “decisive turn”, he said.
After arriving in Jagdalpur town from Delhi, 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, Baghel and other dignitaries also laid wreaths on the coffins.
“In the last few years, the fight against Naxals has reached a decisive turn and this unfortunate incident has taken the fight two steps ahead,” he said.
Shah said during the review meeting with the chief minister and personnel of various security forces, officials themselves suggested that the intensity of the anti-Maoist fight should not slow down, which shows the morale of the forces is intact and high.
Shah said in the last five to six years, they have achieved success in setting up camps of security forces in the interior areas of the state.
“Both the central and state governments have been jointly making inroads (into Maoist strongholds). Therefore, such incidents come to fore out of their (Maoists) frustration,” he said.
On the development front also, several works have been done, though due to the coronavirus their pace got slowed down a little, Shah said.
“But, I believe that action is being taken on all the suggestions received from tribal public representatives, chief minister and MPs from the state,” Shah said.
He said the central and state governments have been working on both fronts – to expedite the development works in tribal areas and to intensify action against the extremists.
Prime Minister Modi’s priority is to take this fight against Naxals to its logical end, Shah said.
Shah said he wanted to assure the people of Chhattisgarh and the country that after Saturday’s incident, the fight against Naxals will be intensified and the battle will be won.
It is Shah’s first visit to the Bastar region after assuming the charge of Union home minister, an official said.
Meanwhile, security agencies are working to ascertain a claim made by Naxals that they abducted a CoBRA commando after the Saturday ambush, official sources said in New Delhi.
A top officer in the security establishment said that 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, is true.
“We have not been able to locate commando Rakeshwar Singh Minhas of the 210th CoBRA battalion till now. However, we do not have concrete evidence to substantiate the claim made by some Naxal elements that he has been taken away by them,” a senior officer told PTI.
He said multiple units of the security forces are still out in the jungles to look for the commando who hails from Jammu, and also to intercept movement of the ultras. (PTI)