New Delhi: A day after seven policemen of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force and District Force were killed after Naxals blew up a police vehicle in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, stated that not only had the scope of left-wing extremism (LWE) shrunk, but the centre was set to take punitive action against Naxals, as well.

“Naxalism is a challenge but I want to say that this menace is now shrinking and is losing ground. The casualties in SFs (security forces) have declined by 53% to 55%. The geographical expanse of LWE has also decreased by 40% to 45%. Also, we have decided that all those LWE leaders who have earned money by using poor people and manipulating their innocence, will be punished," Singh said at the passing out parade of the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF’s) Bastariya battalion in Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur.

While “LWE do not want development to reach the under-developed areas, many LWE leaders have made lot of money through illegal activities. Our government will unearth this ill-gotten wealth," Singh said.

Intelligence officials aware of the situation in Chhattisgarh stated that the centre still needed to focus more closely on plugging its shortcomings in the LWE-affected areas.

“There are still several shortcomings on our part. First, we need to ensure that the CRPF has its own choppers instead of always relying on the Air Force or Border Security Force (BSF) choppers. Second, government carriers need to set up mobile phone towers within the CRPF camps to make communication smoother. Third, we need to provide more manpower to the CRPF in Chhattisgarh and other LWE areas," said a senior intelligence officer, seeking anonymity.

The official also added that additional manpower was also required in CRPF for the force to expand its camps in the LWE-affected regions, especially Chhattisgarh’s Sukma and Abhujmad regions.

Defence experts also echoed the sentiment.

“The CRPF needs to be better equipped and supported. It is doing great work in these areas but it needs to be given more support," said Gaurav Arya, a former Indian Army official and defence expert.

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