New Delhi: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s surgical strikes last week made it clear that India won’t bow down to terrorists. But if official figures are to go by India is slowly hardening its stand against internal insurgency as well.
According to the Union home ministry, the number of Maoists killed and surrendered in 2016 so far has surpassed all records since 2011.
The number of Maoists killed in encounters with security forces have increased by 41%, from 99 in 2011 to 140 in 2016 (till 15 September), while that of number of Maoists surrendered have almost tripled from 394 in 2011 to 1,152 in 2016 (till 15 September).
Isha Khandelwal, advocate at Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, said, “More than half of the surrenders and encounters of the Maoists that police are claiming are false. In the last one year many such investigations by journalists and independent fact findings have brought such incidents to light.Just two weeks back, a PIL was filed in Chhattisgarh high court by two young adivasi women Sunita Pottam and Munni Pottam from Korcholi, Bijapur along with WSS (Women against sexual violence and state repression) challenging authenticity of some of these encounters in Bijapur. "
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According to the data of the Union home ministry’s Left Wing Extremism (LWE) division, there has been a significant fall in the incidents of Maoist violence and deaths of civilians since 2011.
Compared to 2011, the cases of Maoist violence has fallen by 54%, while number of deaths have reduced by 64.7%.
But compared to corresponding period of last year, both the cases of Maoist violence and civilian deaths have increased. In 2016, upto 15 September, a total of 802 cases of Maoist violence have been recorded compared to 795 in 2015 in the corresponding period.
Similarly, 162 people have been killed in 2016 (till 15 September), compared to 118 civilian deaths in the corresponding period of 2015.
As per the data, between 2011 to 2016 (upto 15 September) at least 1,607 civilians have been killed by Maoists in different parts of the country.
As per the ministry, the majority of the civilians killed are tribals, who are often branded as ‘police informers’ before being brutally tortured and killed. Of the 1,607 civilian deaths, 736 were of such police informers during the same period.
Nearly 100 districts across India are infested with Maoists and the states affected by Maoists attacks mainly include Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Over the years there has been a significant reduction in number of cases and deaths in these states. Since, 2011 Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have shown the highest number of cases reported of incident cases and deaths. In 2016 (till 15 September), Chhattisgarh has reported 291 incident cases with 81 deaths, while Jharkhand has reported 265 incident cases with 67 deaths.
Besides, there has been a reduction of the Jan Adalats held which have come down by 84% since 2011. Jan Adalats are basically people’s court where people suspected to be loyal to the state are punished in full public view by Maoists.
“This is because of sustained pressure on Maoists due to operations. The Maoists are on a backfoot and have lost control of several areas. “ said Rahul Pandita, a journalist and author who is known for his reportage on Maoist insurgency in central and eastern India.
The government has implemented many schemes to undertake developmental work in Maoism affected areas like Civic Action Programme (CAP) and Integrated Action Plan (IAP).
While CAP aims at bridging the gap between the security forces and the local population in the LWE affected districts while IAP relates to developmental work like construction of school building, Anganwadi Centres, drinking water facilities, construction of rural roads, community halls, Godowns, livelihood activities, skill development, electric lighting, health centres, construction of toilets etc.