Centre asks Nitish to head anti-Maoist command

New Delhi, Oct 23 — The central government wants Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to head a unified command to take on Maoists in one of their last bastions in the state. The recent attacks on Indian security forces in Gaya reflect a Maoist desperation to foil their elimination from Bihar, government sources with knowledge of the anti-Maoist operations told IANS here. At a meeting of chief secretaries and director generals of police from nine states here this week, Bihar was urged to establish a unified command with Nitish Kumar at its head. The unified command will have officers from the security establishment besides officials representing the civil administration.

It will carry out carefully planned anti-Maoist drives. Only four of the nine Maoist-hit states have established a unified command to coordinate the task of security forces with development work in remote areas to blunt Maoist influence on the locals. These are West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh. Of these, only Chattisgarh’s unified command is headed by its chief minister, Raman Singh. The other three unified commands are led by chief secretaries. A senior government official told IANS that Gaya was the last Maoist stronghold in Bihar. “If the Maoists are wiped out in Gaya, the whole of Bihar can be free of armed Naxals.

“At the recent review meeting, we requested Bihar to set up a unified command under the chief minister’s chairmanship,” the official added. Though the home ministry has been asking Bihar to have a unified command for years, Nitish Kumar has avoided it. One reason was because he did not see eye to eye with Home Minister P. Chidambaram. But with Sushilkumar Shinde taking succeeding Chidambaram, the situation has changed drastically. The Bihar chief minister may be inclined to go for a unified command and may also head it.


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