Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has said development is the weapon being used against Naxalites, with the government providing villagers in the rebel-hit remote forests of Bastar with roads and electricity. The chief minister also said constructing roads in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh was the “toughest battle in the world”.
“The biggest pain of the Naxalites is why we (the government) are building roads and electrifying the region,” he told reporters here on Monday. The outlawed rebels did not have faith in democracy and protested against every election, as well as development and the construction of roads in the region, Singh said. “The ‘ladai’ (battle) is about electrification and road construction as we build more roads worth Rs 800 crore in the region,” he said.
The chief minister said the government’s challenge was to build roads for the villagers as well protect those constructing them. “We have dual challenges in the region – construction of roads and providing security to those constructing the roads,” Singh said, adding by doing so it had developed villages.
Singh described as “routine” the Naxalite diktat to locals not to take part in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme in Bijapur district’s Jangala last week. “It is a routine thing. More than 40,000 people took part in the programme. This war (with the Naxals) is going on and I daily participate in various programmes even though I get threats from the ultras,” he said.
To a query on how much of the troubled region in the state was under the control of the outlaws, he said the Naxalites believed they controlled over 20 per cent of Bijapur and Sukma districts. “But now anyone can travel in Dantewada even on scooters,” he said, adding that with the construction of roads till Bhopalpatnam, he occasionally took motorcycle rides in areas which were earlier inaccessible. “Roads and electricity build confidence among the people,” he said.
Endorsing Prime Minister Modi’s comment that Naxal leaders are outsiders who stay safe and let the locals die, Singh said the leadership had a four-layer security cover with women and children on the outside periphery to prevent security forces from firing at them.
“The Naxalites in Bastar also take the benefit of inter-state borders. They conduct an attack in Chhattisgarh and then flee to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh or Odisha and vice versa. It is a huge area – 40,000 sq km area – which is larger than Kerala,” he said.