States seek more forces, chopper support in Maoist areas

The Chief Ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand attended the meeting, while West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana's K Chandrasekhar Rao and Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan were either represented by their home ministers or senior officials.

The meeting, though planned earlier, comes in the backdrop of the April 24 Maoist ambush of CRPF personnel in Sukma when 25 jawans were killed.

Singh elaborated each part of this doctrine, laying stress on bringing aggression in the policy - aggression in thinking, in strategy, in deployment of forces, in operations, in development and in road construction - instead of reacting only after heinous incidents.

In a sign of things to come, the Centre today underlined the need to have "aggression" in the battle against left-wing extremism (LWE) in the country and stated that the state governments should take the ownership of anti-Naxal operations.

He also said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be pressed into service to bust their hideouts.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday claimed as many as 12,000 people had lost their lives to Maoist attacks over the past 20 years. Most states demanded more helicopter support and use of modern technology in anti-Naxal operations. He said: "The residential camps of security forces should be well-equipped with power and water facility and better connectivity".

"I am convinced that their martyrdom will not go in vain".

Several States also raised the issue of discontinuation of central schemes such as Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) and a considerable reduction in central funds as an impediment to winning the war against the Maoists.

"There is need to depute shadow intelligence officers to track prominent targets associated with Left Wing Extremism (LWE)", Singh said. Along with strategic command, unified command was required at the operational and tactical level - besides intelligence sharing which was equally important.

"We need to use high resolution cameras, Global Positioning System, thermal imaging, radar and satellite images".

Singh had termed the attack as direct "challenge to the government" and vowed to hunt down the attackers. To this end, he said a strategic and unified command should be formed - as a first step to which, the command headquarters of the CRPF has been shifted from Kolkata to Chhattisgarh's Raipur.

It would take stock of capacity building and intelligence issues like vacancies in state police forces, capacity building of state intelligence units and other ministry-wise related matters.

'The conclave would discuss ways to revamp intelligence gathering mechanism, take a close look at ongoing operations against Naxalites, identify problem areas and devise ways to minimise casualties among the security forces, ' a Home Ministry official said.