NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday urged the chief ministers of Naxal-affected states to give priority to addressing the menace so that it can be eradicated within a year and sought a joint strategy to choke the flow of funds to the red ultras.
Addressing chief ministers, state ministers and top officials of 10 Naxal-hit states, Shah also said that the fight against the Maoists has now reached its final phase and it needs to be accelerated and made decisive, an official statement said.
He said the death toll due to the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) violence has come down to 200 in a year.
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).
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 either a minister or senior officials.
The home minister urged all the chief ministers to give priority to the problem of Maoists, also called Left Wing Extremism, for the next one year so that a permanent solution can be found to the problem.
It requires building pressure, increasing speed and better coordination, he said.
Shah said it is very important to neutralise the sources of income of the Naxals.
The agencies of the central and the state governments should try to stop this by making a system together, he said.
According to sources, intensifying operations against the Naxals, action against their frontal organisations, filling up the security vacuum, choking the flow of funds to extremists and concerted action by the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigation Agency and the state police were some of the issues discussed threadbare at the meeting.
Shah said the state administrations should be proactive and move ahead in coordination with the central forces.
If a regular review is conducted at the levels of the chief minister, chief secretary and the DGP, the problems of coordination at the lower level will automatically get resolved, he said.
The home minister said the fight against the LWE is now in a crucial stage and the government is optimistic of reducing the menace to an insignificant level at the earliest.
Observing that the LWE has claimed more than 16,000 civilian lives in the last 40 years, he said there has been a consistent decline both in the violence figure and its geographical spread in the last decade.
The incidents of LWE violence have come down by 70 percent from an all-time high of 2,258 in 2009 to 665 in 2020.
The resultant deaths have also come down by 82 percent from a high of 1,005 in 2010 to 183 in 2020.
The area under Maoists' influence was also constricted, with the geographical spread shrunk from 96 districts in 2010 to just 53 in 2020.
The extremists have been pushed to a few pockets, with only 25 districts accounting for 85 percent of the LWE violence in the country.
The home minister said that without eliminating the LWE, the country neither will be able to spread democracy to the bottom nor will be able to develop the underdeveloped areas.
"So, instead of being satisfied with what we have achieved so far, we need to increase the speed to get what is left," he said.
Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken an important decision to bring down the fixed expenditure of the states on the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).
As a result, there has been a reduction in the expenditure of the states on the deployment of CAPFs by about Rs 2,900 crore in 2019-20 as compared to the year 2018-19.
"The prime minister has continuously reviewed it and is constantly guiding us all," he said.
Referring to several development initiatives taken in the Naxal-hit areas, Shah said the central government has sanctioned 17,600 km of road, out of which 9,343 km has already been constructed.
To improve telecommunication connectivity in LWE affected districts, 2,343 new mobile towers have been installed and 2,542 additional towers will be installed in the next 18 months.
For financial inclusion, 1,789 post offices, 1,236 bank branches, 1,077 ATMs and 14,230 banking correspondents have been deputed and 3,114 post offices will be opened within a year.
For imparting quality education to the youths, special focus is given to the opening of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS).
A total of 234 EMRSs have been sanctioned for LWE affected districts, of these 119 are functional, he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urged the Centre to conduct a study on how many children from Naxal-hit regions in the country succeed in national-level examinations like NEET and JEE.
"If our systems continue to bypass these areas, it is not going to help the cause of people of LWE affected areas," he said.
Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharita demanded that the Centre further improve road connectivity and telecommunication network and set up more Eklavya schools and post offices in the Naxalism-affected areas.
Maoists are now confined to only two districts -- Visakhapatnam and East Godavari -- in the state, she said.
Union ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw, Giriraj Singh, Arjun Munda and Nityanada Rai attended the meeting.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Director of Intelligence Bureau Arvinda Kumar along with senior civil and police officers of central and state governments were also present.