Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel on Sunday skipped a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
The chief ministers of 10 Naxal-hit states, including Chhattisgarh, were invited to the meeting during which Shah was to take stock of the ongoing operations against the ultras and development activities undertaken at the ground level, officials said.
“Chhattisgarh’s Chief Secretary Amitabh Jain and Director General of Police D M Awasthi have gone to the national capital on the CM’s behalf to attend the meeting,” a public relations department official said.
Baghel was scheduled to attend a convention of Chandranahu Kurmi Samaj in the state’s Mahasamund district on Sunday afternoon, he said.
The CM has skipped the crucial meeting at a time when the LWE situation in Chhattisgarh could be a key agenda of discussion as the state has witnessed several deadly attacks on security forces by Naxals in the last few years.
Senior state officials said the issue of setting up camps of security forces in Bastar, particularly in its southern part that comprises Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada, was likely to be discussed in Shah’s meeting in Delhi on Sunday.
Construction of roads and other development works in the strife-torn areas of the state were also likely to be discussed, they said.
Chhattisgarh recorded the highest number of crimes committed by Maoists in 2020, according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) annual report released recently.
As per data of the Chhattisgarh police, the Naxal violence has claimed lives of 1,237 security personnel, mostly belonging to paramilitary forces, and 1,615 civilians from 2001 to June this year in the state.
During the same period, bodies of 1,027 Naxals were also recovered following encounters with security forces, while 4,552 ultras surrendered.
The state’s eight districts -, Bastar, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma (all in Bastar region) and Rajnandgaon – are among most Naxal-hit districts in the country, and have been battling the menace for over three decades.
After assuming charge as the Union home minister, Shah had for the first time visited the insurgency-hit Bastar division in April this year, after 22 security personnel were killed and 31 others injured in a Maoist ambush along the border of the region’s Sukma and Bijapur districts.
Shah had then held a high-level meeting in Jagdalpur on the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) situation with Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior officials of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
In January this year, Baghel had chaired a meeting of unified command here to review the security situation and development works in Naxal-affected areas of the state.
The CM had then said his government’s three-pronged strategy of trust, development and security helped in pushing Naxals on the back foot, and success will be achieved in cornering ultras in the coming days.