Maoist activities are not limited to only remote areas of eastern Maharashtra but “urban naxalization” is being seen in big cities of the state, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar claimed on Thursday.
He was speaking to reporters in Gadchiroli district of the state where at least 27 Maoists including senior Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde were killed in an encounter with police last Saturday.
Talking about the Maoist menace in the district, which borders on Chhattisgarh, Mr Pawar said the situation was improving.
But there is this “new phenomenon” where some elements are trying to create hatred against the government in other parts of the state too, he said.
“We can call this urban naxalisation,” Mr Pawar said.
“Some such forces are active in Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai and in parts of the Sahyadri ranges, as far as Kerala. There is a section which is trying to create public opinion and hatred against the government,” he said.
Mr Pawar’s party is part of the government in Maharashtra and its minister holds the home portfolio.
“Special caution should be taken about this aspect immediately, otherwise new problems would emerge,” the NCP chief, who was Maharashtra chief minister four times, warned.
Notably, BJP leaders have often used the term “urban naxals” to claim that Maoists have hidden supporters and sympathizers in urban areas.
Mr Pawar, meanwhile, advocated a push to industrial development through mining in Surjagarh in Gadchiroli.
Protests had been staged by locals against mining in the area recently.
To a question about fear that mining will take away local tribals’ livelihood from natural resources, Mr Pawar said farming should be improved to provide new job opportunities.
“I feel that to remove the frustration of the young generation here, they should get job opportunities. Surjagarh will give them this right and opportunity in a big way and an important and permanent industry will develop here,” he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)