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SOURCE: PTI

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said the Maoist problem in the country will end in the next two-to-three years, and except for a small pocket in Chhattisgarh the whole country is now free from the menace.

In an interview with PTI late Saturday, Amit Shah also said that there is no presence of the Maoists in the so-called Maoist corridor – from Pashupatinath to Tirupati. “Maoists were eliminated from all over the country. Once some people used to say about the Maoist corridor from Pashupatinath to Tirupati. Now, Jharkhand is completely free from Maoists. Bihar is completely free. Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are also completely free. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are also free,” he said.

Amit Shah said the Maoists were still operating in some pockets of Chhattisgarh and could not be eliminated there so far as there was a Congress government in the state in the last five years.

He said since a BJP government has assumed power in the state five months ago, work to free Chhattisgarh from the Maoists has started.

“After our government assumed charge (in Chhattisgarh), about 125 Maoists were killed, over 352 were arrested and about 175 surrendered – if you count today’s (May 25) figure too. Here I am talking about the figures of just last five months.

“I can tell you that in the next two to three years — I am giving you an outer limit — the country will be free from the Maoist problems,” he said.

On April 16, security personnel gunned down 29 Maoists, including some senior cadres, in Kanker district in Chhattisgarh in the biggest encounter ever.

This was the highest fatalities suffered by the red ultras in a single encounter in the history of the state’s fight against left wing extremism.

According to the union home ministry data, the incidents of left wing extremism have reduced from 14,862 in the decade 2004-14 to 7,128 in 2014-23.

The number of deaths of security forces due to left wing extremism has declined by 72 per cent from 1750 in 2004-14 to 485 during 2014-23 and the number of civilian deaths has declined by 68 per cent from 4285 to 1383 in the said period.

The number of districts with violence was 96 in 2010, which declined by 53 percent to 45 in 2022.

Along with this, the number of police stations reporting violence decreased from 465 in 2010 to 176 in 2022.

In the last five years, over 5,000 post offices were set up in 90 districts which have Maoists presence or where the ultras have presence in the past.

As many as 1,298 banks branches were opened, 1,348 ATMs were made operational in 30 most-affected districts, officials said.

A total of 4,885 mobile towers were constructed at a cost of ? 2,690 crore in Maoist-hit areas and 9,356 km roads were constructed at a cost of ? 10,718 crore.

Local youths are being engaged by setting up 121 Eklavya residential schools, 43 ITIs and 38 skill development centres in Maoist affected areas, officials said.