Naxal issue: Centre offers support to states, joint ops

New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday reviewed anti-Naxal operations in Orissa and Chhattisgarh with the Chief Ministers of the two states and offered the Centre`s full support to them to face the challenge of Maoists.

After the hour-long meeting with Chief Ministers Naveen Patnaik and Raman Singh, Chidambaram said joint operations of central and state police forces would be launched against the Maoists along the inter-state borders.

"We have made very clear that no operation will be conducted without the complements of state police. Earlier practice has completely been discontinued for a year and a half. Now, all operations are conducted by the paramilitary forces with the complements of state police. All operations are now joint operations," he said.

The Home Minister said violence and the number of casualties have been reduced considerably in areas falling under 270 police stations in 64 districts in 8 states.

"Upto June 14, 2011, there have been 811 incidents (1025 last year) resulting in 270 deaths (473 last year). Of the 270 persons who were killed, 190 were civilians (296 last year) and 80 personnel of the security forces (177 last year)," he said at a press conference.

The Home Minister said CPI (Maoist) and other Left Wing Extremist groups continue to target civilians and kill them after branding them as `police informers` and of the 190 civilians killed this year, 72 were branded as police informers.

Chidambaram said in today`s meeting, they reviewed the situation in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, especially the areas along the border of the two States.

"We are not making public what will be our strategy. The Central government has offered its full support to the two state governments to face the challenge of Left Wing Extremism through the two-pronged strategy of development and police action," Chidambaram said, adding, the request for additional support to the two state governments would be met.

Referring to the joint operations, the Home Minister said there is an Inspector General of Police (operations) in Orissa and there is an Inspector General of Police (operations) in Chhattisgarh exclusively for anti-Naxal operations.

"The CRPF has an IG based in Chhattisgarh and also another CRPF IG based in Orissa exclusively for these operations. Control rooms were established and connected with state headquarters and it is the two IGs who decide the operations and below that company commanders and local police work together," he said.

The Home Minister said Left Wing Extremist groups also continue to target infrastructure and businesses and this year there were 13 attacks on railway property, 18 telephone exchanges and towers were attacked, four panchayat bhavans and 12 school buildings were destroyed and 82 roads and culverts were also damaged.

"Our security forces have confronted the challenge of Left Wing Extremists with courage and restraint. There have been 125 encounters between security forces and Left Wing Extremists and 78 extremists have been neutralised. Besides, 883 extremists have been arrested, 243 have surrendered and 315 arms have been recovered.

The Home Minister said security forces have apprehended top leaders of the CPI (Maoist) and seven of the 14 politburo members.

Subsequently, one escaped from a jail in Bihar and another jumped bail after he was released by a court in Andhra Pradesh. 11 members of the Central Committee were also arrested and are in judicial custody.

"Chhattisgarh has reported 218 incidents with 90 deaths and Orissa has reported 84 incidents with 26 deaths. Although the numbers are lower than the last year, the level of violence is unacceptable.

On the development side, Chidambaram said under the Integrated Action Plan of 2010-11 and 2011-12, under which Rs 55 crore have been allotted to each of the 60 affected districts, 18,724 works have been taken up in Chhattisgarh and 10,427 in Orissa.

Of these, 2,237 projects in Chhattisgarh and 2,693 in Orissa have been completed. The other works are in progress, he said.