Centre reviews Maoist menace

 The Centre on Wednesday reviewed the situation in nine Maoist-affected states of the country with chief secretaries and directors-general of Police at a time when CPI (Maoist) has reportedly admitted its depleting strength.

This is the second such meeting in two months convened by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. Last week, the Home Ministry had issued an alert asking states to step up security in prisons following inputs on Maoists reportedly planning jailbreaks to free their leaders.

At the meeting, state officials were briefed about the recent assessment of the Maoists’ strength. A letter purportedly written by CPI (Maoist) General Secretary Muppalla Lakshmana was also circulated.

The Centre spoke on its proposal of a special project to convert around 50,000 acres of land in the Maoist-hit states into rubber plantations, with a view to weaning away youth from joining extremists. The Centrally-funded project, jointly worked out by Home and Commerce Ministries, is expected to provide sustainable source of income for the youths.

The Centre also revealed inputs it had received that the Maoist leadership is desperate to free its leaders from the prisons to fill the increasing vacuum and informing state officials that it is drawing up plans to push the ultras to an even tighter corner. 

Sources said the meeting also decided to focus the operations on hitting the top and middle leadership of the Maoists in a coordinated manner.

They said the Centre expects Maoists to intensify their operations in the coming months with the receding monsoon, telling officials about the chances of jailbreaks in their states and asked them to beef up security in their prisons.

The Home Ministry is also unhappy over the state police for not following Standard Operation Procedures in Maoist-hit areas. Top ministry officials have communicated the displeasure to states, asking them to plug the loopholes.

Chief secretaries and DGPs of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh attended the meeting.

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