NEW DELHI: The tide may slowly be turning against Maoists, as the latest figures compiled by the home ministry suggest that 2012 could be the best year security forces have had against them since UPA government came to power in 2004. 361 civilians and security-men were killed by Maoists till October 31, against 509 casualties in the nearest corresponding period, and a total of 611 casualties in 2011. The statistics compiled by the home ministry ahead of the winter session of Parliament says the lowest casualties that the country has seen under UPA rule was 566 in 2004. It increased to 908 in 2009, and 1,005 in 2010.
The number of violent incidents involving Maoists dropped this year to 1,198 from 1,760 such incidents in 2011. “2012 could be the first time in nine years that could see number of people killed by Maoists below 500 and number of violent incidents below 1,500,” a senior home ministry official said. The home ministry report shows that states leading the recovery are Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. The casualties at the hands of Maoists in Chhattisgarh have halved – from 181 in the first ten months last year to just 93 this year. In 2010, 343 people were killed just in Chhattisgarh, including the 75 CRPF men killed by Maoists in Dantewada. In West Bengal, there has been a transformation under Mamata Banerjee’s rule as the home ministry report shows that there has been no casualty at the hands of Naxals in the state so far this year. 258 people had lost their lives to Naxals in West Bengal in 2010, prompting a massive counter-Naxal operation. The report shows there have been just six incidents of Naxal violence in West Bengal in 2012, compared to 92 in 2011 and 350 in 2010.
The situation is also comparatively better in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar, where the number of violent incidents have dropped from 316, last year, to only 145, while the casualties have also dropped from 63 last year to 39 in 2012. 374 Maoists have been arrested in Bihar this year, the MHA report shows. However, the situation in Jharkhand and Maharashtra continues to be a headache for the government with both casualties and violence showing no sign of abating. Out of the 361 casualties in all Naxal-affected states this year, 137 have been in Jharkhand alone, which also reported the highest number of violent incidents, 407, by Naxals. Violence has also increased in Maharashtra this year, while there has been a status quo in the Naxalite situation in Odisha as far as the count of casualties is concerned. K Vijay Kumar, who was chief of CRPF till September 30, 2012, and who led the anti-Naxal operations since October 2010, told ET that there was definitely a turnaround.
“In the last few years, security forces have consolidated in many areas which were under the control of the Naxals and drop in violence and casualties is a sign that central armed forces like CRPF and BSF have much better coordination with the state police forces now. There has been a turnaround in states like West Bengal with Naxals losing control over areas there, while Bihar has also seen positive developments,” Kumar said. He, however, cautioned that a drop in violence could also mean a ‘strategic retreat’ on the part of Naxals in the wake of action from security forces.