Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said Naxalism was a challenge but it was fast shrinking and losing ground across the country. He was speaking at the passing out parade of the newly-formed Bastariya Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Ambikapur in Surguja district.

The battalion is named ‘Bastariya’ as the force comprises of locals — both male and female — from Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma and Narayanpur — some of the worst Maoist-affected districts in Bastar.

Singh said the decision to set up the battalion was taken in view of the courage and valour shown by the tribal people to take on any tough challenge. “Naxalism and extremism are a challenge, but I want to say that this menace is now shrinking and losing ground,” Singh said.Appreciating efforts of CRPF and the Chhattisgarh police in curbing Naxal activities, he said casualties in the police force from rebels attacks have also gone down. “Life of a jawan killed in Maoist prone regions can’t be compensated with money, yet, as a token of gratitude the government has decided to provide Rs 1 crore to the family of the martyred jawan. It is because of (CRPF and dstrict personnel) that the casualties of security forces have also gone down by nearly 53%-55%. The geographical expanse where Maoists are active has also decreased by 40%-45%,” Singh said.