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Sukma Naxal attack: ‘Will retaliate in equal measure’, says Rajnath Singh

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-04-2017 PTI

Raipur: A day after the Sukma Naxal attack, the Chhattisgarh government and the Centre on Tuesday said will review strategy against Maoists and promised a retaliation in equal measure.

“The sacrifice of our brave jawans will not go in vain,” said home minister Rajnath Singh in Raipur. Singh said a meeting of all Maoist-affected states will be held on 8 May to look at ways to root out left-wing extremism.

“We will review the strategy (of dealing with Naxalites) and if necessary we will revisit it,” Singh said after paying homage to the CRPF jawans killed in the Sukma Naxal attack.

Sukma naxal attack: CRPF jawans were having lunch when Maoists hit them

The government has a two-pronged anti-Naxal strategy—armed operations followed by development activities, such as constructing roads, health centres and schools, in the affected areas.

The security operations are carried out by paramilitary forces with support from state police.

Rajnat Singh said the Maoists are trying to hamper the development activities and using the tribals as fodder. “They (tribals) are being used as human shields,” Singh said. “We are working to root out the problem of left-wing extremism,” the minister said, describing the attack as a cold-blooded murder.

“It was an act of cowardice and desperation. We have accepted it as a challenge.”

Chattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, who addressed the media along with Rajnath Singh, said anti-Naxal operations would be conducted with “more vigour” in the coming days.

“An operation with more firmness will be conducted in the coming days. I believe that the fight against Naxals in Sukma is the biggest battle being fought against left-wing extremism in the country. We have decided to enhance our activities and construction work in the region,” he said.

Rajnath Singh and Raman Singh also visited hospitals where the injured CRPF personnel are being treated. Expressing condolence to the bereaved families, the home minister said, “the Naxals are frustrated with the development in Bastar region, but they will not succeed in their evil designs.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh visited the headquarters of the 4th battalion of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force in the Mana camp where a wreath-laying ceremony was held.

Chhattisgarh governor Balramji Das Tandon, CM Raman Singh, state home minister Hansraj Ahir and senior state and paramilitary officials were also present at the headquarters.

Asked by a reporter if Monday’s Naxal attack indicated an “Intelligence failure”, Rajnath Singh said “this is not the time for a blame game”.

To a query on why a full-time director general of the CRPF had not been appointed, he said, “We don’t have a dearth of leadership...whenever needed, we will appoint a senior officer here.”

The Naxal attack in Sukma on Monday targeted a 100-strong CRPF patrol that was providing security cover to road-construction activity in the Kalapathar area of Bastar, a region where left-wing extremism is rampant. The fierce gunfire from Maoists occupying vantage positions lasted about three hours and left at least 25 CRPF personnel dead and seven wounded.

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