"Completely Maoist-Free": Amit Shah's Big Vow Day After 29 Rebels Killed

Chhattisgarh Naxal encounter: In addition to the Maoists killed Tuesday, 79 have died in separate gun battles so far this year with security forces in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region.

Amit Shah on Naxal encounter:

New Delhi:

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has reiterated the government's commitment to making Chhattisgarh, and the entire country, "completely free of Maoists", labelling rebel fighters "the biggest enemy of development, peace, and (the) bright future of youth".

Mr Shah's comments come a day after Chhattisgarh security forces killed 29 Maoists, including a senior rebel leader - Shankar Rao, on whom there was a bounty of Rs 25 lakh - in a gunfight in Kanker district.

The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader also congratulated the joint District Reserve Guard and Border Security Force team, which suffered three non-fatal injuries. The team was led by Laxman Kewat, a President's Award winner and 'encounter specialist', with a reported 44 kills to his name.

"...security forces killed a large (number of) Maoists in Chhattisgarh. I congratulate the personnel who made this operation successful with their bravery, and wish for the speedy recovery of the brave policemen who have been injured," Mr Shah posted on X (formerly Twitter).

The Home Minister flagged the government's "offensive policy" when dealing with Maoist rebels and said that aggression meant the threat has, today, been confined to smaller areas within the state.

READ | "Congratulate All Personnel": Amit Shah On Big Op Against Maoists

"Maoists are enemies of development, peace, and (the) bright future of youth. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modiji we are determined to free the country from (this) menace. Due to the offensive policy of the government and the efforts of security forces, it has been confined to a small area today (and) soon Chhattisgarh and the country will be completely Naxal-free."

Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai has congratulated the troops for their "very big achievement".

On Tuesday, the joint DRG-BSF team was conducting an anti-terror op in a forest near Kanker's Binagunda village. Mobile phone footage showed the chaotic 20 seconds leading up to the gunfight.

READ | Top Maoist Leader Among 29 Killed In Chhattisgarh Encounter

The bedlam began after one of the soldiers spotted movement and opened fire, prompting a volley of gunshots and warning cries. "Peeche se koi fire nahin karega bhai (no one should fire from behind)," one soldier warns his comrades, and the video ends with him repeating the warning.

Apart from the 29 rebels killed, the DRG-BSF team also recovered a huge quantity of weapons, including Ak-47 and INSAS rifles, as well as .303 carbines and pistols.

READ | Walk Through Jungle, Then Gunfire: Footage From Maoist Encounter

In addition to the Maoists killed Tuesday, 79 have died in separate gun battles so far this year with security forces in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region, which consists of seven districts, including Kanker.

The violence in Kanker comes days before the Lok Sabha election begins; the Bastar seat will vote in the first phase on Friday, while Kanker will vote in the second round on April 26.

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