Maoists have now been surrounded and people’s faith in the government machinery has been restored, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said today while listing his government’s achievements in fighting Left Wing Extremism.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Baghel was asked about the Maoist strikes during his tenure and whether he sees Chhattisgarh as Maoist-free in the future. “Maoist attacks have happened. There is no denying that. Aranpur, where the recent attack took place, was earlier out of bounds. People could not even imagine going there. Now there is regular commute. That day, they got stuck and this incident happened and we lost nine security personnel and a civilian,” he said.
“What is different between the situation earlier and the situation now is that we have now surrounded the Maoists and are fighting them. Earlier, attacks took place on camps (of security personnel). Now we are entering their strongholds, surrounding them and striking them. But in such encounters, there are losses on both sides,” he said.
Elaborating on what has changed now, Mr Baghel said, “Earlier, the villagers, especially in Bastar, had lost faith in the government. They were losing their land, even water bodies were captured. They felt they were not getting the right price for their produce. They felt deprived of education, other welfare measures. On the other hand, security personnel thought that anyone outside their camp was a Maoist.”
“There was a trust deficit. The biggest change is that we tried to win their (villagers’) trust,” Mr Baghel added.
The Chief Minister then detailed his government’s steps to reach out to villagers, including an exercise to return land to tribals. “We have given 18 lakh hectares to villagers. This is unprecedented. This has not happened anywhere in the country,” he said.
Mr Baghel also detailed how his government’s steps how helped millet farmers and the mahua industry. Mahua refers to a flower used to make an alcoholic beverage.