Stressing that “an integrated approach with focus on holistic development of Bastar is the only way to tackle the Maoist problem”, the Chhattisgarh government has refuted speculation that the state is preparing for aerial attacks on the rebels and with the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, an all-out war will be launched against them.
The government clarified that the recent meeting of Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Chief Minister Raman Singh and other senior state officials was “not for seeking more choppers or battalions”, but to essentially draw the integrated plan.
“No. Not at all. I categorically deny this,” the Chief Minister told The Indian Express, when asked about the possibility of aerial attacks on Maoists.
“The main agenda of the meeting was to discuss law and order and development issues in Left Wing Extremism affected region. We need to take a holistic view of the problem and evolve a new strategy particularly for development. We emphasized that the development projects pending at Union level should be fast-tracked as only all-round development can bring permanent solution. The need for streamlining and resolving pending projects in a set time frame was mutually agreed upon,” he said.
In fact, during the meeting Singh conveyed that “if the country is to fight Left Wing Extremism then the biggest battle to be fought will be in Bastar, and this battle is possible only through the holistic development of Bastar”.
Contrary to the perception that Chhattisgarh sought more firepower, senior officials present in the meeting said the policing aspect occupied less than 10 per cent of the presentation as the state advocated for a paradigm shift in identification and execution of projects in Bastar.
Explaining the reason behind the demand of choppers, ADG (Naxal Ops) RK Vij told The Indian Express: “More choppers were asked for improving mobility of forces and response time in crisis situations, not for aerial attacks or dropping bombs.” About the need of more battalions, Vij said, “Security vacuum still exists in many areas of Bastar. Forces are needed to make inroads in such zones and for providing protection to road construction programmes.”
Officers pointed out that while the Centre has approved 10 regular and two technical battalions, it has not promised even a single chopper so far, and they at most expect only two aircraft, which will be used for ferrying forces. Many police stations, and posts and CRPF camps are located in remote areas of Bastar where troops and ration is airlifted as roads do not exist. “We need choppers primarily for this reason,” said an official, adding that even the thought of aerial attacks in Bastar is absurd.
“The purpose of the meeting was not to seek more battalions or choppers, but to draw the attention of policy makers to the need of an integrated plan for tackling the crisis. We conveyed them that Maoists are not the problem of Chhattisgarh alone, it is not just a law and order problem or a security issue, hence an integrated plan is required involving all stakeholders and agencies in Naxal management. Our concerns and proposals were appreciated well,” Vij said.