Amid a walk out by Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members who alleged a spurt in crimes against women, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday claimed in the Assembly that the quantum of Maoist violence has declined since 2013.
"The quantum and intensity of Maoist violence has declined in the state in 2013 and till date this year.
A total of 128 Maoist related incidents have been reported during this period, which include 41 exchange of fire between Maoists and the police. 28 Maoists have been killed, 158 arrested and 142 have surrendered," Patnaik said replying to a debate on the demand of grants of the home department in the Assembly.
Stating that security forces have recovered large cache of fire arms, explosive devices and other materials during raids, Patnaik, who is in-charge of the home department, said the government has recast its 'Surrender and Rehabilitation Scheme' with enhanced financial assistance to encourage more Maoists to shun violence.
About Rs 3 crore have been disbursed to the surrendered Maoists under the scheme so far, he said.
On the Opposition's criticism that arrest of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda was a "drama", Patnaik said "we don't believe in stage managing things. People know the commitment and sincerity with which my government deals with issues concerning the state, including Left Wing Extremism."
It is because of the sustained and intelligent hard work along with valour and sacrifice of the Odisha Police that on Friday Sabyasachi Panda is behind bars, he said asking the Opposition not to belittle the sacrifice of security personnel who have lost their lives in the fight against Left Wing Extremism for "narrow political ends".
"I can also tell those who like to politicise these sensitive issues, that people of Odisha know very well as to who is doing what and with all humility I would like to say that the people have been repeatedly blessing our government because we believe more in deeds than in words," Patnaik said.
"We believe in sincere, committed hard work than in doing drama for narrow political ends," Patnaik said referring to opposition remarks.
However, expressing displeasure over Patnaik's reply, opposition Congress and BJP members staged a walk out. Stating that his government would always welcome constructive criticism and use the same for welfare of people, Patnaik said the smooth conduct of twin elections, urban local body polls and annual car festival of Lord Jagannath showed that a peaceful atmosphere prevailed in the state.
Referring to concerns expressed by opposition MLAs over rise in crimes against women, particularly rape cases, Patnaik said his government has taken steps to ensure prompt and proper investigation and expedite prosecution in crimes against women.
Now FIRs concerning offences against women can be lodged in any police station and then be transferred to the police station concerned for investigation, while Special Prosecutors are being appointed in sensitive cases, he said. The victim compensation scheme has been suitably enlarged for providing necessary medical assistance and compensation to the woman and child victims, he pointed out.
Regarding low conviction rates in the state, Patnaik said the government has been taking a number of steps regarding the matter. "The state government has moved the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) for recruitment of more than 200 Prosecutors in the rank of Additional and Assistant Public Prosecutors," Patnaik said.
The Chief Minister said he has sanctioned 1,808 posts of different ranks for the Odisha Industrial Security Force (OISF) and steps are being taken to raise the force. Besides, taking into account the requirement of different industries, more posts would be created subsequently to guard banks, currency chests, vital installations, dams, reservoirs and other sensitive places, he added.