“Today, Kashmir has become a part of India forever and is now on the path to development. We have started to neutralise terrorism,” he said on his first visit to the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district to campaign for the party’s MLAs in three constituencies.
Invoking local tribal freedom fighter Baburao Shedmake, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Veer Savarkar, Shah claimed that the Congress and NCP both need to take lessons in history.
“The biggest achievement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been to make the country safe. The Congress was not ready to remove Article 370, as it did not want to let go of its vote bank. But after the people made Modi the PM with 300 seats, he used those 300 seats to remove Article 370,” he said.
“Sharad Pawar and Rahul Gandhi both ask what Article 370 has to do with Maharashtra? They need to open history books to read that the sons of this soil have never hesitated to lay down their lives for the security of the nation,” he added.
Security across Alapalli taluka was tightened after Shah’s rally at the Pranhita Ground was confirmed. Coming just five months after 16 people, including 15 Quick Response Team commandos were killed in an Improvised Explosive Device explosion by Naxals in Kurkheda Taluka, police personnel were stationed along roads leading in and out of Alapalli from Thursday evening.
Even as Gadchiroli MP Ashok Nete and Aheri MLA Raje Ambarishrao Atram stressed on the importance of Shah’s maiden visit to the district, the minister claimed that the Centre has taken great measures to act against Naxals. “In the next five years, we will eradicate Naxalism,” he claimed.
Shah also said that an iron ore plant in Aheri’s Surajgarh forest, which has been shut for two years owing to protests by local villagers, would soon resume operations. Mumbai-based Lloyds Metals and Energy Limited has been granted a 50-year lease to mine iron ore in the mineral-rich forest. However, attacks on the plant by Naxals and a fatal accident involving a truck owned by the company in 2017, have seen work come to a standstill.
Shah said the state will soon set up an industrial corridor in the district for the manufacture of forest products and also build dams at regular intervals on tributaries of the Wainganga river to provide irrigation to farmers. He added that the Centre was working on a Rs 300-crore rail connectivity project in Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts.
“It was once said that Naxalism emerged because of a lack of development. But today, the Naxals are against development. They do not allow us to build industries or to take roads and railways to the people.”