Civilians biggest casualty of Naxal violence
While left wing extremism (LWE) — the government’s preferred phrase for Naxal-related violence — has caused over 20,000 deaths in the country since 1980, it is not the extremists or the security forces who have suffered the most. Data accessed by The Hindu shows that a majority of those killed were civilians. In fact, the ongoing conflict has claimed at least one life every single day over a 35-year period beginning 1980. The total body count, as on June 30, 2013, stood at 19,327, according to information obtained under the Right to Information Act. Latest data compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs adds another 685 fatalities to the record taking the total tally to 20,012 as on March 30, 2015.
As many as 12,146 civilians lost their lives to LWE-related violence across the country during this period for which official data, accessed by The Hindu, is available. During this period, 4,761 extremists and 3,105 security personnel were killed. That adds up to about two security personnel dying for every three extremists killed.
The year 2010 was the bloodiest of this insurgency, leading to the death of 1,177 persons — over 60 per cent of them civilians. The year saw the horrific Dantewada ambush that led to the death of 75 CRPF men and one Chhattisgarh police constable, the Gyaneshwari Express derailment, the Dantewada bus bombing and the Silda camp attack in Midnapore among other incidents. In fact, the six years from 2005 to 2010 were the bloodiest in the entire two-decade timeline, with the reported death of 5,916 persons. The information was provided by the Naxal Management Division of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to Delhi-based RTI activist Ved Pal, under the Right to Information Act.
The data also shows that the number of deaths among all three categories declined consistently between 2011 and 2013. Curiously, the records show no fatalities in 1986, immediately after which deaths in all categories — especially security forces — witnessed a rapid surge. LWE-affected States have their differing policies on providing financial compensation to families of civilians and state police personnel killed in such violence. However, under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme, the central government reimburses expenditure incurred by the state governments for payment of ex-gratia to the victims — Rs. 1 lakh for every civilian and Rs. 3 lakh for each security personnel killed in LWE violence.
Centre firms up Naxal strategy
The Centre on Saturday firmed up a strategy to give a strong push in the fight against Maoists in the worst-affected state of Chhattisgarh and called for greater synergy among security forces on the ground. At a high-level meeting, chaired by Union home secretary L.C. Goyal with top officials of Chhattisgarh officials, the MHA reviewed the law and order situation in Chhattisgarh and asked the state government to take tough action against Naxals which struck thrice in the last fortnight killing eight security personnel in the state.
Senior officials of CRPF and BSF were also present in the hour-long meeting, official sources said. With a special focus on carrying out anti-Naxal operations in the dense jungles of Bastar, the meeting stressed on close coordination among state police force and Central paramilitary forces so that there is no gap in offensives. A majority of the casualties in Naxal violence in the recent past has taken place in Bastar region, forcing the Centre to take up on an urgent basis an initiative to counter the rebels.