The Maoists laid down their arms in the presence of top state police officers.
As many as 62 Maoists surrendered before the police in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district today, giving the state government a major boost in its fight against Left-wing extremism. They also laid down 51 countrymade firearms in the presence of Bastar Inspector General Vivekanand Sinha and Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla, ANI reported.
The "hardcore Naxals" were working under the Kutul area committee of the CPI(Maoist), Mr Sinha said.
The development comes in the run-up to the assembly polls in a state that has been reeling under Left-wing extremism for decades now. A recent study showed civilian casualties in Chhattisgarh rising to a five-year high, with 43 dying in Maoist-perpetrated violence until September 23. A few days ago, the extremist group claimed responsibility for a October 30 attack in Dantewada district in which a Doordarshan cameraperson and three policemen were killed.
However, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said this instance of Maoists surrendering en masse was a sign of the situation improving under the ruling BJP government. "Happy to know that a large number of Left-wing extremists have surrendered before the police by giving up arms in Chhattisgarh," he tweeted before going on to congratulate Chief Minister Raman Singh and the state police.
Rajnath Singh attributed the development to the effectiveness of the state's surrender-and-rehabilitation policy on Left-wing extremism. "It is yielding positive results and helping to change the security environment of Chhattisgarh in a big way," he said. "The success of government's surrender policy is pushing Left-wing extremists to shun the path of violence. I hope other operatives will also abjure violence to join the mainstream."
Later, the Chief Minister congratulated the surrendered extremists for making the right decision. "Today, 62 Maoists from Abujmarh region gave up violence to chose the path of development. The continuous development of Chhattisgarh has paved the way for Maoists to join mainstream society, and we give them a hearty welcome. I ask the remaining Maoists to leave their arms behind and become a part of Chhattisgarh's success story too," Raman Singh tweeted.
According to experts, the recent spurt in Maoist-related violence is part of an attempt to discourage people from casting their votes in the upcoming assembly election. Polling for the 90-seat state Assembly will be held in two phases — November 12 for 18 seats and November 20 for 72 others. Most of the constituencies in the first phase fall in the Maoism-hit Bastar region.
(With inputs from agencies)