In his first interaction with the media after the recent Naxal attack on Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh,Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde revealed that the rebels were making cities such as Delhi,Mumbai and Pune their urban bases.
With reports of a large number of Maoists being caught in these cities,Shinde said on Thursday: We are aware that Naxals have been using urban centres,and Pune has been one of their targets. They are trying to spread their presence in other cities. There have been reports regarding their strong presence in parts of Rajasthan.
Shinde has been facing flak for his absence and for not issuing a statement after the attack. There was no need to issue a statement as I was in touch with officers in the Home Ministry and after consultation with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency, he said,adding that he will visit Chhattisgarh on Friday.
Shinde defended his absence by saying that he is neither an accused nor an absconder. Citing his appointment with an eye surgeon in the US,Shinde said,The doctor had given me an appointment for May 27 and there was no way it could have been expedited as the doctor was in Malaysia and there were three national holidays in the US to observe Memorial day. Shinde had gone for a Homeland security dialogue in the US between May 19 and 23 and said that he extended his stay after taking due permission.
He also refrained from getting into a blame game over the attack and said its too early to point finger at any political conspiracy. A judicial probe has been ordered by the state government while I have instructed the NIA to probe into security lapses, he said.
The Home Minister,who had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi prior to addressing the media,said that there were no specific alerts regarding threat to party leader Mahender Karma,a Z-plus category protectee. There were no such threats,otherwise we would have promptly given him a cover of Central security forces. The Home Ministry has learnt that out of the sanctioned 16 security personnel,Karma was moving with only six, he said. However,he said theres no need to bring in amendments to tackle Naxals. He also rejected any possibility of talks with the Maoists.