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Odisha placed fourth in Maoist menace in India

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Apr 19:

While the Union government is adopting new strategies to deal with Maoists in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) regions, Odisha stood fourth among 10 worst affected states in Maoist menace in India.

According to annual report 2016-17 released by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Chhattisgarh topped the list as the worst affected state with 395 incidents and 107 deaths followed by Jharkhand (323 incidents and 85 deaths), Bihar (129 incidents and 28 deaths), Odisha (86 incidents and 27 deaths) and Maharashtra (73 incidents and 23 deaths).

Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand together accounted for 68.5% of the violent incidents and 69% of deaths. Bihar followed by Odisha and Maharashtra accounted for 12.3%, 8.2% and 6.9% of the incidents respectively in the current year. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana together reported less than 4% incidents. Chhattisgarh, despite being the core area for Maoist activity, recorded a decrease of 15% in incidents of violence.

The LWE scenario, while remaining an area of concern for internal security of the country, exhibited significant improvement over the year. The declining trend which started in 2011 continued in 2016 as well. The last two and a half years has seen an unprecedented improvement in the LWE scenario across the country. There has been an overall 07% reduction in violent incidents (1136 to 1048) and 30% reduction (397 to 278) in LWE related deaths since end-2013, the report said.

Over the same period there has been an increase of 50% in encounters (218 to 328) and an unprecedented 122% increase (100 to 222) in elimination of armed Maoists cadres. On the other hand, there has been a 43% reduction (115 to 65) in casualties to Security Forces personnel. The figures are a reflection of the efficacy of operations being conducted by the SF and the capacity building measures undertaken by the MHA. At the same time, the developmental outreach by the Government of India has seen an increasingly large number of LWE cadres shunning the path of violence and returning to the mainstream. Compared to 2013, there has been an increase of 411% (282 to 1442) in surrenders by LWE cadres in 2016.

In comparison to 2015, the year 2016 saw a decline of 3% (1089 to 1048) in incidents of violence while the number of deaths increased by 21% (230 to 278), which is mainly contributed by increase in death of civilians. 123 out of the 278 deaths are attributable to killing of alleged ‘police informers’ by the Maoists. On the operational front, 222 LWE cadres were eliminated in 2016 as compared to just 89 in 2015. 1840 LWE cadres were arrested and 1442 surrendered in 2016 as against 1668 and 570 respectively in 2015. The numbers of arms recovered have also increased from 724 to 800 and arms list due to snatchings dropped from 18 to 03.

The improvement in LWE scenario can be attributed to greater presence and increased capacity of the Security Forces across the LWE affected States, better operational strategy and better monitoring of development schemes in affected areas.

The CPI (Maoist) continues to be the most potent among the various LWE outfits in the country and accounted for more than 80% of total LWE violent incidents and resultant deaths. Amidst increasing reverses, the CPI (Maoist) made efforts at reviving erstwhile strongholds along inter-State boundaries with the intention to divert the attention of the SF from its core areas. However, revival efforts by Maoists in Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border areas, establishment of a base at the tri-junction of Kerala-Karnataka-Tamil Nadu and formation of a new Zone at the tri-junction of Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh did not meet the desired success due to periodic interdictions of senior leaders by the SF. While extortion/ levy activities by the Maoists continued, the demonetization drive by the Government of India delivered a major dent to their finances.

The Maoists tried to strengthen coordination between its mass organizations and other like-minded organizations to undertake programmes against alleged state violence and for protection of democratic rights. In 2016, the issue of displacement of local communities remained the main plank of mobilization by the mass organisations.

Especially, in Niyamgiri Hills area in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts of Odisha, the outfit continued to guide the activities of the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti. Similarly in Jharkhand the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan a front of the CPI (Maoist), tried to take up pro-tribal issues and opposed amendments to the Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Acts, modifications in Domicile Policy etc. Maoist affiliates also undertook protest programmes and resorted to anti-Government propaganda over alleged atrocities by Security Forces. They organized similar meetings over the issue of Kashmir and called for plebiscite in the State.

With the Maoists forced to remain in a state of strategic defensive in most of the States, it is time to consolidate the gains in order to end this menace once and for all, the annual report said.