Nongkrem (Meghalaya), March 22:
Maoists are trying to establish their foothold in the northeastern states, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Tuesday.
“We have got information that in some parts of the northeast, Maoists are trying expand their roots. We have to check this, and I believe you can demoralise their courage,” Rajnath Singh said addressing Assam Rifles troopers on their 181st Raising Day celebrations here in Meghalaya.
“There is an attempt to destabilise the country, and I am proud of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and police forces, the way they deal with ultras and extremists, discouraging them and able to nab them,” he added.
Stating that insurgency has been a “problem” in the northeastern states, Rajnath Singh took a dig at the previous Congress governments for not giving priority to the development of the region.
“After independence, the northeast has not seen much development which should have happened. The region was not given priority. Without peace and security, no matter how much we try, the development of the region will not be possible,” the BJP leader said.
Rajnath Singh said the Modi government was specially focussing on the region.
“Soon after Narendra Modi took over as prime minister, the union cabinet discussed about the northeast in the first meeting, and took some important decisions including the need to give enough emphasis and priority to the region,” he recalled.
Stressing the importance of connectivity between India and the Southeast Asian countries via the northeast as a corridor, Rajnath Singh said this connectivity can boost the economy to a great extent.
Eulogizing Assam Rifles troopers for fighting against insurgents, the home minister said: “In the development of the northeast, Assam Rifles is instrumental in bringing down the insurgency problem in the region.
“The way you have tried to check this insurgency in this region, the result is that the insurgency has come down. I am happy that in the last 18 years, no one is able to check insurgency at this level.”
Earlier, Rajnath Singh laid a wreath and paid homage to Assam Rifles martyrs, in the presence of Assam Rifles director general Lt. Gen. H.J.S. Sachdev and other officers of the paramilitary force.
“In these 181 long years, you (troopers) have faced several challenges but this force has lived up to the challenges. Your job was to make the country secure and your organisation has done its duty well.
“Since the day Assam Rifles was given responsibility of guarding the India-Myanmar border, that responsibility you have fulfilled and you have lived up to the expectation and proved yourselves,” he said.
Rajnath Singh also announced that 2,500 constables would be promoted as head constables.
Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, has the twin responsibility of guarding the treacherous India-Myanmar border and also conducting counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Nagaland.
Assam Rifles has 46 battalions, 15 of which are deployed along the 1,643-km long unfenced India-Myanmar border.
The porous border with its rugged terrain is used by Indian insurgent groups to slip in and out of the country. Forest and animal products are also smuggled through this route in and out of India. (IANS)