Hyderabad As 2011 draws to a close, Andhra Pradesh has a special reason to cheer. After more than three decades of fighting Maoists, this year saw the least deaths as a result of left-wing extremism in the state, staying in single digits. In all, Andhra saw seven civilian deaths, with no police casualities.
Even the number of cases registered involving Maoist violence — 41, including six of murder — were the lowest since 1980 when Naxal attacks started to rise in the state.
A total of 2,065 civilians, including many government officials, have been killed while 575 policemen have died in 31 years of Naxal violence in Andhra.
In 1980, when the People’s War Group (PWG) was formed, 38 offences were registered, including six murder cases. The violence reached its peak in 1991, when 178 civilians and 49 policemen were killed and police registered 953 cases against Left-wing extremists.
With 21 of the 23 districts in the state affected by Naxalite violence, 1990 (145 deaths), 1991 (227 deaths), 1992 (212 deaths) and 1993 (143 deaths) were particularly bad years for Andhra.
The figures have been compiled by the anti-Maoist Special Intelligence Branch (SIB). Its report shows that whenever governments have tried to engage the Maoists in talks, the violence has gone down drastically, only to return with a vengeance when talks failed.
It was only 10 years after the special anti-Naxal Greyhounds force was formed and the government overhauled and equipped the police force with modern weapons that the state police started getting an upper hand in the fight against left-wing extremists by 1999. The Naxals were pushed to the state’s borders with Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
More than 800 Naxalites and 50 top leaders have been killed in encounters by the police since 2003. In a single year in 2005, more than 300 cadres including four top leaders were killed while many others were arrested or surrendered.
Advising against complacency, deputy inspector general of SIB Shivadhar Reddy said: “A single incident can upset a year’s hard work like the Balimella reservoir incident of 2008 in which 36 policemen, including 33 Greyhounds commandos, were shot.”