June 6, 2023

 In a significant act of political posturing, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Telangana counterpart, K Chandrashekhar Rao Monday ​remained absent from an inter-state council meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to take stock of the ongoing operations against Naxals and the development initiatives being undertaken in Maoist-hit areas.

Chief ministers or their representatives and top police and civil officials of 10 Naxal-violence affected states were expected to attend the meeting — a first of its kind after Shah assumed charge about three months ago.

While Banerjee, who is a bitter critic of the ruling Narendra Modi-led governement, sent the DGP and Chief Secretary of Bengal on her behalf, KCR is reportedly in Hyderabad on a personal trip.

However, more surprising was the absence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who skipped the event, even as Gadchiroli, one of the hotbeds of insurgency, was on top of the meeting’s agenda. According to reports, Fadnavis is currently busy canvassing for votes by embarking on a ‘Mahajanadesh Yatra’ in the state, which goes to polls in a few months. He, too, was represented by the DGP.

The 10 Maoists-hit states are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. According to a home ministry statistics, a total of 8,782 cases of Naxal violence were reported during 2009-13 as against 4,969 during 2014-18, a reduction of 43.4 per cent.

As many as 3,326 people, including security force personnel, lost their lives in 2009-13 as against 1,321 in 2014-18, a reduction of 60.4 per cent, the ministry said.

A total of 1,400 Naxals were killed between 2009 and 2018. As many as 310 incidents of Naxal violence were reported in the first five months this year across the country in which 88 people were killed.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy had last month said that the steadfast government policy has resulted in consistent decline in violence and shrinkage in geographical spread of Left Wing Extremism (LWE).

As a result, LWE-related violence was reported in only 60 districts in 2018, he had said.]

“Of these, only 10 districts account for two-third of LWE violence. The LWE-related incidents of violence between April 2014 and May 2019 have been 43 per cent lesser when comparing with the preceding five-year period,” he had said.

The National Policy and Action Plan, approved in 2015 to address LWE, envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving security-related measures, development interventions, ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities.

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