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The Tuesday Interview | ‘Will transform the region from bloodbath to 'Niyad Nellanar': Chhattisgarh CM

Chhattisgarh CM Vishnu Deo Sai speaks to DH about his government to tackle left-wing extremism-related violence in the Bastar region.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 21:41 IST

After inflicting a surprise defeat on the Congress in the Chhattisgarh assembly polls last year, the BJP appointed Vishnu Deo Sai as the chief
minister. In this interview with DH’s Umesh Singh, Sai speaks at length on measures initiated by his government to tackle left-wing extremism-related violence in the Bastar region. He says relatives of the top Maoist cadre are now participating in the health camp organised by the state government. Excerpts:

Left-extremist violence in the Bastar division is a major problem. What measures have you taken to counter it? 

The five districts, namely Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Bijapur, and Kanker, are the worst affected. These districts lack basic amenities due to Naxal problems. The previous government did precious little to bridge the wide gap, resulting in a trust deficit with the locals. Meanwhile, my government has embarked on an ambitious scheme, Niyad Nellanar (Gond for ‘your good village’), as a confidence-building measure to counter or challenge the Naxal menace. The idea of transformation from bloodbath to Niyad Nellanar could be achieved through the five-pronged approach of development (vikas), trust (vishwas), security (suraksha), justice (nyaya), and service (seva).

Niyad Nellanar will extend essential services like education, health, drinking water, and welfare benefits through security camps. The ambit of these benefits will be extended to the villages situated within a 5-km radius of security camps.

What is the roadmap to implement this scheme?

The security camps in the region will ensure inclusive growth and development in the area with strategic planning. Initially, under the scheme, the government aims to provide at least 25 basic amenities, benefiting 32 individuals/beneficiaries in the Naxal-affected villages. It includes houses, water, electricity, roads, transportation, health care, education, communication, the Aadhar card, etc. The Niyad Nellanar Yojana is focused on emulating the Centre’s JANMAN Yojana in the Naxal-affected villages. A budget of Rs 20 crore has been allocated for the Niyad Nellanar Yojana.

A first-time MLA, Vijay Sharma, is your deputy and is in charge of home affairs, overseeing law and order. How is your chemistry with him?

Oh it is excellent! He is very energetic and has suitably picked up the job. Our chemistry is working well, and he is actively interacting with armed forces personnel, boosting their morale. Administrative officials visited Puvarti village to instill trust among the locals and share the upcoming plan of the Niyad Nellanar Yojana for providing essential services in the Naxal-affected areas.

Can you share with us the security camp experience held on February 16?

Puvarti and its nearby villages, which come under Jagargunda police station, were considered a Maoist stronghold in Dandakaranya.

The Puvarti village is the native village of Hidma, the top commander of the Maoists, and People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion commander Deva. These areas served as hubs for Naxalite activities and have been deprived of development work and basic facilities due to the Naxalite menace.

Are you expanding the security apparatus in the Naxal-affected region?

The state government has intensified its efforts to foster development and eradicate Naxalism in the affected areas. The armed forces have established 15 new security camps in Naxal-affected areas. A security camp, jointly operated by the CRPF, STF, Cobra, DRG, Bastar Fighter, and local police, was set up in the Puvarti of Jagargunda police station on February 16. The camp aims to provide security and essential amenities to the locals.

Following the security camp’s establishment in Puvarti, a health camp was organised, and an appeal was made to villagers to undergo health check-ups. The relatives of the top Maoist cadre and other villagers participated in the health camp.

All these initiatives by the armed forces and administration are showing positive results, which was evident in the participation of locals in the health camp.

What is the mechanism adopted to coordinate with security forces vis-à-vis the district police force, etc.?

In Chhattisgarh’s fight against Naxalism, central and state police forces have been deployed with their new camps in Jagargunda’s highly sensitive Naxal-affected areas, acting as a protective barrier for residents. Their proactive presence and engagement with the community are earning praise and fostering goodwill. This approach is anticipated to yield positive results in the ongoing fight against Maoist insurgencies.

How do you proceed to achieve the ambitious target set by PM Modi to win 370 seats in LS?

Yes, the BJP is quite confident in its ability to achieve it with a modest share of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh. In the previous Lok Sabha election, the BJP won nine out of 11 seats, and this time we are going to win all eleven seats on the strength of double engine sarkar.

Do you see any challenge from Congress?

No, not at all. The Congress is in disarray and is a divided house. They are victims of their follies, and nobody can help them.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 21:41 IST)

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