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Left-wing extremism: At meeting with Shah, state govt flags ‘security vacuum’ at Chhattisgarh border

The meeting, attended by Chief Ministers, Director Generals of Police and Chief Secretaries of the LWE-affected states, was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
Updated: September 28, 2021 8:29:44 am
Among the other issues raised was requirement of Rs 1,200 crore for developmental projects for roads and bridges not only for facilitation of commuters in interior villages but also for security operations. (Representational)

MAHARASHTRA raised the issue of “security vacuum” in the areas of Chhattisgarh bordering Gadchiroli and Gondia in the meeting of left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected states held in New Delhi on Sunday, sources said.

“A large chunk of area in Bijapur and Narayanpur districts across Gadchiroli has virtually no police presence or government outreach. This has created a security vacuum, which has proved to be a hindrance not only in inter-state anti-Naxal operations but has also helped Naxalites chased by Maharashtra police run away to the safe haven in Chhattisgarh,” said a senior official, when asked what specific issues the state had raised in Sunday’s meeting.

The meeting, attended by Chief Ministers, Director Generals of Police and Chief Secretaries of the LWE-affected states, was chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

“We have been able to inflict several reverses on the Naxalites through painstaking anti-Naxal operations. But because of the security vacuum across the border in Chhattisgarh, the Naxalites retreat only to stage a comeback. Had there been effective police presence and government outreach in what is a virtually free zone for Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra’s Naxal problem could have been vastly reduced,” the official said.

Another official said, “The Naxalites enjoy a virtual sanctuary of up to an average of 30-40 km depth in the Abujhmad area of Bijapur and Narayanpur adjoining Gadchiroli. This problem is peculiar to the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border. It doesn’t exist when it comes to Chhattisgarh-Odisha and Odisha-Telangana, where large deployment of security forces has been done due to the greater severity of LWE problem. The state has raised this issue at the meeting as the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border problem has remained unattended.”

The official added, “Despite several odds, the Gadchiroli police have carried out few daredevil operations without any support from the other side in Chhattisgarh areas. In March this year, a Naxal arms unit was destroyed in Kodur forest near Tekameta village in Narayanpur district. But we couldn’t stay on longer because we didn’t have any idea about the exact threat perception there.”

Among the other issues raised was requirement of Rs 1,200 crore for developmental projects for roads and bridges not only for facilitation of commuters in interior villages but also for security operations. “Among the major connectivity projects which the police need to undertake on priority were two bridges on Bande river to connect Gadchiroli with Kanker and a bridge across Indravati to connect Damrancha in Gadchiroli with Sandra in Bijapur. Among the important roads that need to be constructed for security operations is the Nelgonda and Kawande in Maharashtra to Kutru in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh,” the official said.

Earlier, the Ministry of Road Transport had undertaken Road Requirement Plan (RRP) in two phases. It, however, did not undertake work on bridges that were more than 75 metres in length. Now, RRP has been replaced by Road Connectivity Project for LWE Areas, implemented by Union Ministry of Rural Development.

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