By Our National Affairs Bureau
NEW DELHI: Addressing the review meeting on Left Wing Extremism (LWE) at New Delhi Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah said that LWE is one of the major internal security challenges faced by the Nation for the last several decades. Left Wing Extremism has no place in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Vision of ‘New India’, he added.
Several Union Ministers including Finance Minister, Ministers for Road Transport & Highways, Agriculture, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Tribal Affairs, MoS Home Affairs, along with Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh attended the meeting and senior officials of Central and State Governments.
Shah observed that LWE organizations are against democratic institutions and use violence to subvert the democratic process at ground level. They actively seek to prevent development in the least developed regions of the country. Their strategy is to misguide people and keep them ignorant. Shah noted that the basis of the PM’s vision of ‘New India’ is the strength of holistic, last-mile development, and it is therefore essential to get rid of the menace of LWE violence. Shah asserted that India’s fight against those who try to subvert democracy with violence would continue relentlessly.
Noting the success of security forces against LWE violence, Shah said that the last few years have seen a decline in number of districts that saw LWE incidents, and the number of incidents as well. From the high 2258 events of LWE violence in 2009, the events have come down to 833 in 2018. The number of deaths dropped from 1005 in 2009 to 240 in 2018. From 96 districts affected by naxal violence in 2010, the number of districts affected was reduced to 60 in 2018.
Shah observed that states play a key role in maintaining law and order, therefore, a synergy between the centre and states can effectively address the issue of LWE. Though incidents of LWE violence have come down, focus needs to be kept to eliminate it completely and all efforts need to be maintained by Centre and states in full pace, he added.
Shah also elaborated the multidimensional strategy followed by the centre in this regard which includes use of advanced technology, sharing intelligence, raising of 66 Indian Reserve Battalions (IRBs) by the centre etc. He emphasized on capacity building of local forces, since it is strong local forces that can effectively neutralize LWE organizations from their areas. In this regard, Shah said that LWE cannot be eradicated without the vigilance and efficiency of the local police in the militancy affected states, hence their role is important. He asked the states to use central schemes and their own budget for police modernization.
The Home Minister also focused on the need to check flow of funds to LWE organizations, and praised the states for the steps taken by them in this regard. Shah also called upon the states to rationalize their surrender policy to mainstream innocent individuals caught in the trap of LWE violence.
Shah said that apart from the flagship schemes of various ministries, specific initiatives have been taken by the Central Government for areas affected by LWE, which mainly include improving road and telecom connectivity, financial inclusion, skill development and education. He specifically talked about accelerating the pace of opening up of schools under Eklavya model as well as ensuring the presence of banking facilities within 5 kms to all citizens.
The Union Home Minister assured the State Governments that the Centre would cooperate fully in eliminating LWE. He said that the time has come for the security forces to formulate a proactive strategy to deal with the issue and it is necessary to prevent LWE incidents at all costs. Shri Shah said innovative measures need to be employed to prevent IED (Improvised Explosive Device) incidents that have caused significant number of casualties in recent years.
Talking about the National strategy to counter LWE formed in 2015, Shah said that it was a multipronged approach consisting of security, development and ensuring participatory governance and rights for local tribals, inter alia. He said that under this strategy, the protection of the rights of local citizens is the priority. Shah urged the states to adopt a focused, time-bound approach to completely eliminate LWE and ensure all-round development of affected regions.