Naxalism spreading to Chhattisgarh's urban areas: MLAs

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Raipur, Feb 19 (UNI) Cutting across party lines, the Chhattisgarh Assembly members today expressed concern over the spread of naxal activities in urban areas and called for strengthening the intelligence network.

Participating in a debate on an adjournment motion moved by him, Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Karma claimed that police were already aware of the fact revealed by the top Maoist leader Gopanna during interrogation that the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) had set up 'town committees' in almost all urban areas including the state capital.

''What action did police take after they came to know about these committees? Were efforts were made to track down the rebels?'' he asked, adding that ultras and their sympathisers were active in the steel city Bhilai, Dhamtari, Bilaspur and other towns.

Mr Karma said the police administration had warned all superintendents in the militancy-affected areas that they would be held responsible if the personnel were killed in insurgent attacks in their respective areas. He claimed that such a directive had a counter-effect, resulting in personnel stopping the practice of ''area domination'' and intensive searches.

Mr Vijay Agrawal (BJP) said naxalism did not orginate after his party came to power. ''It is an old menace that began nearly four decades back and several states have been in its grip,'' he said, adding that it was due to action taken during the BJP regime that several arrests and encounters were taking place. He congratulated the city police for seizing a cache of arms and ammunition besides apprehending ultras and sympathisers.

Congress members Bhupesh Baghel, Satyanarian Sharma, Dharamjit Singh, Uday Mudaliar, Ravindra Choubey and others blamed police for alleged intelligence failure. They pointed out that seizing of extremist uniforms, weapons, literature, wireless sets from here and other places indicated that militants were operating from urban areas as well.

Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam said, ''We will face the challenge. We will flush out the Maoists,'' and described as a success the recent arrest of rebels and their supporters.

After the minister's reply, the house adjourned for the day.

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