Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Naxalism was a challenge but the menace was now shrinking and losing ground in the country.
He was speaking here at the Passing Out Parade of the CRPFs Bastariya Battalion — comprising recruits from Naxal-hit districts in the state — which was commissioned into service on Monday.
The battalion is named Bastariya as its members are from the Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh, bordering Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana.
Appreciating efforts of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Chhattisgarh Police in curbing Naxal activities, he said casualties among the police force due to attacks by rebels have also gone down.
Singh said the life of a jawan cannot be compensated with money, but as a token of gratitude, the government has decided that not less than Rs 1 crore should be given to the family of a martyred personnel.
“Naxalism and extremism are a challenge, but I want to say that this menace is now shrinking and losing ground,” Singh said.
Singh said the decision to set up the specialised battalion was taken in view of the courage and valour shown by the tribal people to take on any tough challenge.
He said casualties among the security forces have gone down by almost 53 to 55 per cent and the geographical expanse of Naxalism has also decreased by 40 to 45 per cent.
“The credit for this goes to the our CRPF jawans and officials and personnel of the state police,” Singh said.
Praising the new battalion, he said recruits have shown that “talent, ability and calibre are not just confined to big cities and urban areas but also exist in the people of Bastar.”
The Home minister said establishing the Bastariya Battalion was a well thought out decision of the Centre as the government knows that people from the Schedule Tribes have an “immense sense of patriotism and national pride”.
The unique battalion – recruited from Sukma, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur districts of undivided Bastar – has been raised with a specific purpose to strengthen security forces operations in areas where they have witnessed maximum reverses for a few years owing to a lack of concrete intelligence and familiarisation with locals, and the topography, a CRPF official earlier said
Another special feature of the battalion was the number of women recruits which, at 33 per cent, was according to the policy of the government, the official had said.
Appreciating the state government for carrying out development works in the remote areas, he said Naxals do not want the backward areas to develop as they fear that the growth will uproot them from the region.
“Chief Minister Raman Singh has been trying to ensure an overall development of the state. He is focused on developing the remotest areas of the state to ensure inclusive development,” the Union minister said.