Intensifying operations against the Naxals and chocking the flow of funds to them were the two key issues discussed at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and attended by six chief ministers and top officials of four other states here on Sunday, sources said.
Action against frontal organisations of the Maoists, filling up the security vacuum, concerted action by the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigation Agency and the state police were other vital issues discussed during the nearly three-hour-long meeting.
The chief ministers who attended the meeting were Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), K Chandrashekar Rao (Telangana), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Uddhav Thackeray (Maharashtra) and Hemant Soren (Jharkhand), official sources said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan did not attend the meeting. Their states were represented by senior officials.
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According to sources, intensifying operations against the Naxals, filling up the security vacuum, chocking the flow of funds to extremists and concerted action by the ED, the NIA and the state police were discussed threadbare in the meeting.
Focused investigation and prosecution of cases, action against front organisations, coordination amongst states, capacity building of state intelligence branches and special forces of the states, construction of fortified police stations were other issues discussed at the meeting.
The home minister reviewed with the chief ministers and officials the security situation and ongoing operations against Maoists and development projects being carried out in the Naxalism-affected areas, the sources said.
Shah took stock of the requirements of the states, the strength of forces deployed to tackle the extremists, development works like the construction of roads, bridges, school, and health centres being carried out in Naxal-hit areas.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the Maoist problem has been reduced to only three districts in his state and the meeting discussed what is required to be done to reduce it further.
The development issues which were discussed at the meeting include road connectivity, speeding up construction of long pending roads, improvement of telecommunication network by upgrading the mobile towers installed in last five years in Naxal-hit areas and expedition of installation of the more mobile towers in poor network zones.
The central government is also planning to set up Eklavya schools and ensure coverage of post offices in all gram panchayats in Maoist-hit districts.
Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw, Giriraj Singh, Arjun Munda and Nityanada Rai also attended the meeting.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Director of Intelligence Bureau Arvinda Kumar, senior civil and police officers of central and state governments also attended it.
According to the Union Home Ministry’s data, Maoist violence has reduced considerably in the country and the menace is prevalent now in just about 45 districts.
However, a total 90 districts in the country are considered Maoist-affected and are covered under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme of the ministry.
The Naxal problem, also called Left Wing Extremism (LWE), were reported in 61 districts in 2019 and in only about 45 districts in 2020.
About 380 security personnel, 1,000 civilians and 900 Naxals were killed in different violence in LWE affected areas from 2015 till 2020.
A total of about 4,200 Naxals have also surrendered during the same period, the data said.