Naxal-Related Violence Has Killed Over 5,000 In 6 Years
India’s Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh recently said a new land acquisition Bill will help in tackling left-wing extremists (also known as Naxals or militant communist groups declared as terrorist organisations by the Union of India) as the movement is largely associated with land and forest rights. According to him, encroachment of land by corporations – both private and public – leads to marginalisation of tribals, which is a big issue for Naxals that helps them win local support. Will the land acquisition bill or steps like this help mitigate the violence? Its possible but too early to say. It’s also not clear whether all the other steps taken so far like negotiations, backward region grant fund to central forces offensive have actually delivered.
Because the numbers show that people are still dying almost at the same rate as before. We looked at the state-wise extent of conflicts and the number of civilians, security personnel and Naxals killed during the last 6 years… and found that while around 3,000 civilians were killed in the violence, more than 1,000 security personnel and around 900 Naxals have been killed. The total casualty is 5,235 in 6 years, which turns out to be around 2 killings per day. Figure 1 gives an idea of the total number of incidents and deaths between 2007 and 2012:
The total number of Naxal-related violent incidents during the last 6 years was 10,568 where 4,027 people were killed, which roughly translates into 1 person being killed for 2.6 incidents. Chhattisgarh had the highest number of incidents and casualties followed by Jharkhand. Incidentally, out of 640 districts in India, around 87 districts (13.5%) faced Naxal violence.
While 22 of them are in Jharkhand, 15 are in Chhattisgarh. Approximately 518 incidents took place, on an average every year, in Chhattisgarh with 212 killings while 517 incidents occurred in Jharkhand with 171 killings. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had the lowest incidences and casualties but they have only 1 district each affected by Naxal violence. Figure 2 gives an idea of the number of civilian deaths per million, adjusted with the population of Naxal-affected districts in the top 4 states:
While Chhattisgarh had the lowest number of people living in Naxal-affected areas, it had the highest number of deaths per million. Bihar, which has the highest number of people living under Naxal zone, had the lowest death per million. The next graphic gives an idea of who were killed due to Naxal violence during the last 4 years (2009-2012):
Around 3,011 civilians and 1,323 security forces were killed in Naxal violence from 2007-2012, which means around 4,334 lives were lost due to Naxal incidents. Incidentally, from 2008 to 2010, around 892 police informers were also killed. Jharkhand, with 548 casualties, had the highest number of civilians killed while Chhattisgarh had the highest number of security personnel killed with 424 casualties.
Incidentally, in Figure 1, we saw that around 4,027 people were killed in Naxal violence while the above table adds upto 4,334 people killed. The discrepancy, if so, is could be because of some data variation between the first table sourced from a Parliament question on November 2011 and the second one sourced from a Parliament question on November 2012. So how many Naxals were arrested and killed during 2009-2012?
Around 11,597 Naxals were arrested from 2007 to 2012 and around 901 were killed. Chhattisgarh had the highest number of arrests and the highest number of Naxals killed. Madhya Pradesh had the least arrests and Uttar Pradesh had the least number killed. Incidentally, states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had 38 and 39 Naxals arrested around this time. And there were even 31 Naxals arrested in Haryana in 2009 !
A few other statistics related to Naxal activities during 2007- 2011:
*349 Jan Adalats (kangaroo courts where the laws of the land are negatively amended) were summoned by the Naxals;
*Around 507 attacks took place on forest roads/culverts followed by 201 on school buildings and 197 on Railways. Essar Group’s pipelines in Orissa and Chhattisgarh were attacked nearly 10 times.
*1,963 arms were snatched by the Naxals and 329 arms training camps were organised by the Naxals.
So, it is evident that 2009 and 2010 were the heydays of Naxal activities, which was subdued in the next two years. Interestingly, a few developments in 2013, like the killing of Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, indicate the resurgence of the movement.
BSF arrests one Naxal in Chhattisgarh’s Antagarh District
Chhattisgarh/ Malkangiri, Sept 21 (ANI): The Border Security Force (BSF) has arrested one Naxal in Chhattisgarh’s Antagarh District. Acting on a specific BSF input, troops of the 123rd Battalion of the BSF deployed in COB Tadoki, Antagarh, along with Chhattisgarh Police and Special Task Force personnel carried out special operation in general area of Mangta Salebhat near BSF COB on September 19. During the operation, the party apprehended Keskal Area Committee Commander Vikas Potai, 28, who was involved in 31 criminal cases, and carried a reward of one lakh rupees on his head.
Udupi court acquits alleged Naxalite
MANGALORE: After undergoing imprisonment for four years six months, alleged Naxalite Horle Saroja (25) was released from Mangalore District Jail on Wednesday after Udupi District and Sessions court acquitted her in the last of 22 cases she was booked under. She underwent the imprisonment pertaining to only two cases. Speaking to TOI after her release, Saroja said she will continue to be a part of the social movements for people’s rights as that was only the mode left to get justice to deprived people.
“Police foisted false cases on me. The prison sentence was nothing but sheer torture both mental and physical for no fault of mine,” Saroja said. “The only fault was that i lived in a Naxal prone area. Now that I’m free i will go to Shimoga and will look after my child (four year old Sumanth Mahapriya), who is studying in Std II,” she said. Saroja’s husband Suresh Naik, who also underwent two and a half years of prison sentence and was released in 2012, said: the judgement was bitter sweet. I’m happy that she has been released, but sad about the agony she went through. I’m planning to bring out a book based on the letters she wrote to me in the 18 months. They bring out her pain and anguish in the prison,” he said.
Both were arrested by the Anti Naxal Force on May 11, 2009 on various charges like indulging in unlawful activities and violence. Quoting Blackstone’s formulation that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”, Suresh said these kind of incidents may trigger unlawful activities from those who have suffered. “The government should stop this farce of putting innocent behind bars. We are not planning to sue anyone for the harassment we have undergone,” he added.
Vidarbha demand: Jambuwantrao Dhote says will get Naxal help for creating separate state
Vidarbha leader Jambuwantrao Dhote has said that he will not hesitate to get Naxal help in creating a separate Vidatrbha state if need be. He said this at a press conference he had called. He also said that he could have a 100 buses smashed for Vidarbha without moving a finger. But he does not want to take the path of violence. There has been a clamouring demand to have his Naxal links investigated after he made this statement.
Security personnel, Naxals exchange fire in Rajnandgaon
Rajnandgaon, Chhatisgarh: Security forces and Naxals exchanged fire near here yesterday but no casualties were reported from either side, police said. Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of district police and ITBP launched a search operation in the forests between Murargota and Gubiagarh areas when they were fired on by a group of Maoists hiding there, Rajnandgaon Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Shukla said. The security personnel returned the fire, following which the extremists fled from the spot, he said, adding there were no reports of casualties from either side. The police later recovered live and empty cartridges of SLR rifles, a plastic tent, Naxal-related material and items of daily use from the encounter scene, Shukla added.
More forces sought to fight maoists in western Odisha
With Maoists spreading their base in Western Odisha, the State Government has sought more central para military forces for deployment in the region. At the conference of Chief Secretaries and DGPs of nine Left Wing Extremist (LWE)-affected States in New Delhi on Wednesday, the State Government demanded an additional two battalions of security forces. Sources said the units are meant to be mobilised in Balangir, Bargarh, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts which have witnessed a spurt in Naxalite activities.
While Balangir has reported increasing Naxalite movement as well as counter-operations by the security forces, Nuapada has been a grey area given its contiguity to Chhattisgarh. The meeting also made a mention of the successful operation in Malkangiri by the District Police earlier this month in which 13 Maoists were gunned down by a team led by SP Akhileswar Singh. The State Government has also sought more funds under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) which currently covers 19 districts including Gajapati, Ganjam, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Nayagarh, Kandhamal, Deogarh, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bargarh and Balangir.
Besides, it has also pressed for early release of Rs 192 crore which the Government spent since 2005-06 under the SRE, which is pending sanction. To add teeth to the operation against the Left Wing extremists, the Government has also reiterated deployment of M-17 helicopters in the State. Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra and DGP Prakash Mishra attended the meeting.
Centre for uniform pan-India counter-insurgency policy to deal with Maoists
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday asked the nine Naxalite-hit states to focus their counter-strategies on tracking and apprehending top and middle-rung leaders of the CPI(Maoist), and crackdown on its urban front outfits. At a meeting of chief secretaries and DGPs of nine affected states, chaired by Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the anti-Naxalite campaign was reviewed in detail and emphasis laid on evolving a uniform pan-India counter-insurgency doctrine to deal with Maoists who operate freely across state borders. “There is need to step up intelligence to track the top and middle-level Maoist leaders and apprehend them in covert operations,” the Centre is believed to have told the states. It also called for decisive action against CPI(Maoist) front outfits who have been mobilizing support in the urban centres.
The Union home ministry and state government brass reviewed the implementation of the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for Left-wing extremists, with the Centre impressing upon the states to operationalize screening committees for examining surrender applications. The meeting also reviewed progress made by Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha in upgrading their Special Forces. The meeting saw a presentation by the commerce ministry on a Rubber Board proposal to bring around 50,000 hectares of land across Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha under rubber cultivation.
Aimed at providing the local tribals gainful livelihood, the proposal was endorsed by all the aforesaid states. It was decided that the MHA and the state governments would make available the funds, while Rubber Board would provide extension services like supply of rubber saplings to the local farmers. The estimated cost of developing one hectare of rubber plantation in the region works out Rs 3 lakh over a six-year gestation period. The MHA and states intend to support farmers during this gestation period with a subsidy and wage component, which could be decreased as plantations start bearing produce and ancillary activities like bee keeping are taken up.
Jharkhand Police seize Maoist arms
Bano (Simdega, Jharkhand), Sept.21 (ANI): Police in Jharkhand’s Simdega District have seized a cache of arms, including rifles, bullets and other essential belongings of Maoists. Superintendent of Police Aseem Vikrant Minj also confirmed that a gun battle had taken place with the rebels. The Maoists fled from the area after the encounter. “During the search, three rifles which are country made, ten rounds of 7.62 bore bullets, 26 rounds of .12 bore bullets, nine backpacks, some medicines, their outfit’s pamphlets, food material, camera, chargers, etc were seized,” said Minj.
Bandh in Maoist-hit districts peaceful
RANCHI: Traffic came to a halt and markets remained closed in Maoist-hit districts across the state as the left wing extremists had called a state wide day-long bandh on Friday. The bandh, however, passed off peacefully in the presence of security personnel. The bandh was called by CPI(Maoist) rebels to protest the recent killing of their cadres in neighboring Odisha. At least 14 armed Maoists were gunned down in Odisha’s Malkangiri district during an encounter between security personnel and extremists on September 14.
The bandh was called by an area commander of the Maoists Siddho Koda in Khunti through a press release. The bandh was called in five states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Chhatisgarh. DGP Rajiv Kumar said that he had issued instructions to all the SPs of the concerned districts to maintain alert. “No incidence of violence has been reported from any of these districts. Deployment of security was made in all sensitive areas,” said Bhatia.
The band was mostly effective in Khunti and Gumla districts. Buses did not ply in Khunti whereas shops remained closed in Torpa, Khunti, Murhu, Karra, Raniya and other areas. “All remained peaceful during the bandh. The movement of the Maoists was also not reported during the bandh,” said Khunti.
Naxal camp busted in Chhattisgarh
Raipur: A Naxal training camp was on Thursday busted and a suspected Maoist was apprehended by security forces from the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. During the raid, the security forces recovered a Motorola VHF communication set, concertina coils and some Maoist literature from the camp located in the Bodala-Pusnar jungle area in Gangloor of the district. The operation was jointly carried out by a squad of CRPF and police, a senior official said.
Red posters re-surface in Paikmal
BHUBANESWAR: Posters purportedly circulated by Maoists in Bargarh’s Paikmal area on Tuesday threatened to prosecute former minister and MLA (Padampur) Bijay Singh Bariha and Bargarh district collector Bhabagrahi Mishra in “praja courts” for their “corrupt” practices. The rebels have accused the duo of hatching a conspiracy to handover Gandhamardan hills, supposed to have huge bauxite reserves, to foreign companies for their own monetary gains. One of the two messages, displayed in an under-construction restaurant in Paikmal town, less than 200 metres from the Paikmal police station, charged Bariha of exploiting poor people in the name of caste.
Paikmal comes under Padampur assembly segment, represented by Bariha (BJD) The other poster at Jamset chowk on Paikmal-Nuapada road accused the collector of accepting bribe and indulging in corruption in the implementation of Sarva Siksha Abihyan (SSA) and public distribution system (PDS). Name of Chhattisgarh-Odisha state border committee of the CPI (Maoist) has been mentioned as claimant in the posters, written in Devnagiri script. The collector, when contacted, said only police investigation will reveal who put these posters. “I am not involved in any corrupt practices,” Mishra said. Bariha could not be contacted for his comment.
Police said they have taken the matter seriously. “We have conveyed to both the MLA and collector to take proper precautions while moving around, as per the security advisory of the state government,” DIG (Northern Range) Sanjay Kumar said. Paikmal police have continued investigations. “We are trying to verify who put these posters and are on alert,” SP (Bargarh) Anoop Krishna said. Maoist posters about the “sale” of Gandhamardan hills had surfaced in Paikmal earlier too.
The rebels had put such posters at the central kendu leaf godown near Tahasil Chhack in Paikmal besides Sanskrit High School adjacent to Ayurvedic College, Lankeswar temple and Anchal College in Padampur town on December 31, 2012, calling for an armed struggle against the state government to save the hills. The latest posters come days after security forces killed a Maoist in Gandhamardan hills during a combing operation at Jal Mahadeb along Balangir-Bargarh border on September 6 and recovered arms, ammunition and Maoist literature.
MHA warns of Naxal attacks
After the deadly May 25 attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, the CPI(Maoist) is all set to step up violence in the Naxal-infested state once again in the next 2-3 months, the Union home ministry will warn states at a high-level Naxal review meeting of LWE-affected states to be chaired by home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday.