A day after 25 CRPF troopers were massacred by Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that the strategy to root out left-wing extremism will be reviewed and a meeting of affected states has been convened on May 8 for the purpose.
The Home Minister, who visited the state to pay tributes to the 25 Central Reserve Police Force troopers killed at their camp, termed the massacre as a "cold blooded murder" and said that their sacrifice won't go in vain.
"The attack in Sukma is a cold blooded murder… It is an act of cowardice. The attack was out of desperation," he told reporters after paying homage to those killed.
"We are working to root out the problem of LWE (left-wing extremism). The LWE groups are anti-development. They do not want development in the area. The Centre and state governments will work together," he added.
Rajnath Singh said he had convened a meeting of states affected by Maoism on May 8. "We will review the strategy and if necessary we will revisit it."
He also accused the Maoists of using tribals as cannon fodder.
On Monday, around 300 Maoists, including women, ambushed a CRPF contingent in a forested patch in Chhattisgarh, killing the troopers and escaping with their AK-47 assault rifles.
Rajnath Singh, who reached Raipur with Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir and CRPF's Additional Director General Sudeep Lakhtakia, said the government would not let the sacrifices of the troopers go in vain.
"We have accepted it as a challenge. It will be answered appropriately."
"We have lost precious lives of our soldiers… Left-wing extremists are trying to impede the progress (of the region)… They are the biggest enemy of the poor," he added.
Responding to a query over alleged intelligence failure in the incident, Rajnath Singh said, "This is not the time for a blame game."
Rajnath Singh also visited a hospital and enquired about the health of the CRPF personnel injured in the Maoist ambush. He said that all the injured soldiers are now out of danger.
Later, attending a function in Bihar, Rajnath Singh again accused the Maoists of using tribals as a shield and dared them to face the security forces from the front. He also threatened tough action against the rebels of they continue to attack security forces.
In Raipur, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who also addressed the media with Rajnath Singh, said that fight against Maoists would continue with "more vigour".
"The fight against Maoists in Sukma is the biggest operation against LWE in the country. We have decided to enhance our activities and construction work in the region," he said.
But, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh stirred a controversy by reiterating that Raman Singh and the BJP had a "deal and understanding" with the Maoists in the state.
He called for talks with all stakeholders to bring Maoist violence under control.
"Chief Minister Raman Singh ji and the Bharatiya Janata Party win elections from there because they had a deal and understanding with the Maoists. I have said this before, and I am stating it again," he told reporters.
Digvijaya Singh said unless the state's tribal villagers are taken into confidence, Maoist violence cannot be brought under control.
"The government should talk to all the stakeholders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government only believe in 'jumlas' and have been indulging in it since May 2014," he said.
Condemning the attack, the Communist Party of India (CPI) objected to the term "red terror" for Maoist violence.
"The CPI strongly condemns the killings… in Sukma… Paying its respect to the jawans, the party conveys its deep condolences to their families," it said in a statement.
But it objected to the "attempt to term it as red terror".
"There are several Left parties in Chhattisgarh, including the CPI, which are working in defence of tribal people. They do not agree with Maoists — politically and ideologically and also with their form of struggle."
The CPI said that both central and state governments "need to do serious introspection in the larger context and perspective" to find out why it has been "failing to handle the situation in the region".