HM Amit Shah vows befitting response to Naxals after Chhattisgarh ambush

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday vowed a befitting response to the Naxals, who killed 22 security personnel in Chhattisgarh, and said that the battle against the extremists will be won through joint efforts of the central and state governments.

Shah also reviewed with top security officials the situation arising out of the violence perpetrated by the Naxals.

''Our security men have lost their lives. We will not tolerate this bloodshed and a befitting reply will be given at an appropriate time'', he said in Assam's Sualkuchi, before leaving for New Delhi after cutting short his electioneering in the state.

Shah said search operations are continuing in Chhattisgarh following the encounter.

The home minister also said that the government will continue its fight against such enemies of peace and progress.

'Our fight against Naxalites will continue with strength, perseverance and intensity and we will take it to the end,' he said.

Five security personnel were killed and 30 others injured on Saturday in the encounter with Naxals in a forest along the border between Bijapur and Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh.

Bodies of 17 of the 18 jawans missing after the encounter were recovered on Sunday, taking the death toll to 22, police said.

Soon after his return from Assam, the home minister held a high-level meeting to review the security situation in Chhattisgarh.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Intelligence Bureau Director Arvind Kumar and senior officials of the home ministry and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) attended the meeting, a home ministry official said.

The home minister gave necessary instructions to deal with the emerging situation, another official said.

In the morning, as reports of recovery of more bodies started coming, the home minister asked Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Kuldiep Singh to visit Chhattisgarh to assess the situation.

The dead include personnel from the elite CoBRA unit of the CRPF, the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Special Task Force (STF) of Chhattisgarh.

Shah also spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and took stock of the situation.

Baghel, while briefing Shah about the encounter, said the Naxals have indulged in such acts of violence just to show their presence as people are getting disillusioned with the Maoists ideology and the extremists will be defeated, a Chhattisgarh government spokesperson said.

The chief minister told the home minister that the morale of the security forces is high and they will win against the Naxals in this fight.

Shah too said that the battle against the Naxals will definitely be won as it will be fought together by the central and state governments and assured all help from the Centre, the spokesperson said.

The chief minister told the home minister that people are disillusioned with the Maoist ideology due to the development works being carried out by the state government in health, education and other areas even in far-off places.

As a result, the Naxals are indulging in such violent acts to show their presence, he said.

Baghel said the state government is not scared of such acts of violence and has resolved to carry forward its development works in every village of the state.

Earlier, Shah said in a tweet that the valour of the security personnel who laid down their lives fighting the extremists will never be forgotten.

'I bow to the sacrifices of our brave security personnel martyred while fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Nation will never forget their valour. My condolences are with their families. We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress. May injured recover soon,' he said.

'I want to assure the martyrs' families and the country that the sacrifices the police personnel have made for the country will not go in vain,' Shah said. PTI DG ACB RT RT