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VIP visits wounded Latehar

Ranchi, Feb. 19: Union minister of state for home R.P.N. Singh today visited Latehar 43 days after the Maoist ambush that claimed 15 lives, becoming the first high-profile politician from the Centre to do so.

Singh, who held meetings in Ranchi — at Project Building with governor Syed Ahmed, his two advisers and senior bureaucrats, and with Congressmen at the Shradhanand Road party office — stressed on quicker pace of development and better coordination between state police and central paramilitary forces.

Singh, who arrived in the capital around 10am, flew to Latehar soon afterwards. Two choppers — state-hired Dophine carrying the Union minister and BSF’s Dhruv — landed at the 11th CRPF Battalion headquarters near Latehar station around 10.45am. With the minister were CRPF DG Pranay Sahay, director-general of police G.S. Rath, senior bureaucrats of the Union home ministry and the state.

Boosting the morale of CRPF jawans, Singh spent an hour with them. A CRPF jawan later quoted the Union minister as condemning both the inhuman Naxalite ambush and use of slain jawan bodies as bomb carriers.

Union minister Singh reportedly asked jawans to beef up their combat but “never to stoop to the inhuman level”.

District SP Kranti G. Kumar confirmed the minister’s hour-long visit.

Back in Ranchi, the minister met governor Ahmed, his advisers Madhukant Gupta, K. Vijay Kumar and high-level bureaucrats, where he pointed out tardy development and need to strengthen state police.

“Union home ministry has liberally given funds to improve road connectivity, including national and state highways and rural roads. But, in Jharkhand, the real progress of work on the ground is barely 15 per cent of the quantum of funds being made available,” he said.

He added the NH-75 would get special attention.

On police reforms, the minister cited steps such as improving local intelligence network for faster and accurate tip-offs. “Jharkhand was recently given an additional battalion of CRPF. Increasing the strength of state police is being worked out. Our fight against Maoism must be multi-pronged. We are also trying to induct more tribal women in the central paramilitary forces,” he said.

The Union minister also met partymen for 20 minutes before meeting the media.