In a bid to combat left-wing extremism and expedite development projects in areas where it calls the shots in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday urged the Centre to provide Rs 1,200 crore. Thackeray, in his speech at a meeting convened by the Union home ministry and chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah, said the government would spend funds on erecting more mobile towers to improve connectivity, especially in forests, build additional schools and roads and also procure modern gadgets to deal with the LWE menace.
In addition, the state government proposes to utilise the Central funds to undertake initiatives such as setting up new police checkposts and implement development schemes in Naxal-affected areas.
Thackeray said a total of 139 Naxals were still active in Maharashtra while 40 Naxals had fled to other states. His presentation came after the Union home ministry pointed out that a total 90 districts in the country are considered Maoist-affected and are covered under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme of the ministry. The Naxal problem, also called Left-Wing Extremism (LWE), was reported in 61 districts in 2019 and in about 45 districts in 2020.
Shah made a special mention of Maharashtra along with Chhattisgarh and Odisha, saying that in the last two years, a huge and successful effort had been made to increase security camps in areas where security was not stringent.
Thackeray’s demand for Central assistance follows in the wake of a recent encounter between security forces and Naxals, wherein explosives hidden by Naxals in a forest in Gadchiroli were recovered. An improvised explosive device and a cooker bomb were found and destroyed and other Naxal items were also recovered.
CM Thackeray later dined with Shah and CMs Shivraj Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and K Chandrasekhar Rao (Telangana).
This is Thackeray’s first interface with Shah after the Shiv Sena and the BJP fell out over the 50:50 power-sharing formula, including the CM’s post, after the state assembly elections in 2019 in Maharashtra.
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