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India 19-Apr, 2024

29 Maoists shot dead in Chhattisgarh’s biggest encounter ever

By: Team India Tracker

29 Maoists shot dead in Chhattisgarh’s biggest encounter ever

The vacuum areas have been shrinking and since 2019, around 195 new camps of the CAPFs have been established and 44 new camps will be established. Image Source: IANS

Across the country, the only operation in which more deaths were recorded in recent years was in 2018 in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, where 37 Maoists were slain.

On April 16, security forces conducted an operation in Chhattisgarh's Bastar along the Kanker-Narayanpur border that resulted in the deaths of at least 29 Maoists. It is suspected that three top members of the outlawed Maoist Communist Party of India are among the dead. One of the Naxalites killed in the encounter was Shankar Rao, a key leader with a ₹25 lakh bounty on his head.

The State police have stated that this may be the “biggest encounter ever” in Chhattisgarh given the number of casualties sustained. Across the country, the only operation in which more deaths were recorded in recent years was in 2018 in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, where 37 Maoists were slain.

According to the police, a joint team from the Kanker District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the Border Security Force (BSF) conducted an operation against the Maoists in a forested region within the jurisdiction of the Chhottebetiya police station in Kanker. Following a tip regarding the presence of top CPI (Maoist) Divisional Committee (DVC) members, the security forces were dispatched to the scene. Large amounts of AK-47 weapons, INSAS/SLR/Carbine/.303 rifles, and guns ammo were found on the scene by the security personnel.

Commenting on the success of the encounter, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, “Naxalism is the biggest enemy of development, peace and bright future of youth. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we are determined to free the country from the scourge of Naxalism. Due to the offensive policy of the government and the efforts of the security forces, Naxalism has been confined to a small area today. Soon Chhattisgarh and the entire country will be completely Naxal-free,”

Chhattisgarh has seen a surge in the anti-Maoist campaign since the BJP government took office. The security forces have killed 79 Maoists since the beginning of this year. Based on data released by the police, this is the highest total since 2019, when 80 Maoists were killed in total.

To eradicate the scourge of naxalism from the Indian soil and guarantee the safety and security of its residents, the central government of India, along with the state governments, have been making significant efforts. The Central Government has undertaken several development-related activities, including constructing roads, setting up mobile towers, and improving the network of post offices, banks, medical facilities, and educational institutions in the LWE areas. Regarding security, the Central Government assists the State Governments affected by LWE by supplying battalions of the Central Armed Police Forces, training, and financial support through initiatives like the Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) and Security Related Expenditure (SRE). These programmes provide funds for the modernization of State police forces, arms and equipment, intelligence sharing, and the building of fortified police stations.

Source: Press Information Bureau

*The figure ’98’ in the year 2022 also includes deaths of civilians.

Violence associated with left-wing extremism (LWE) has decreased by 77 percent from an all-time high of 2258 events in 2009 to 509 incidents in 2021. Similarly, resultant deaths (Civilians + Security Forces) have declined by 85 percent from an all-time high of 1005 in 2010 to 147 in 2021. The number of LWE violence episodes and related deaths has decreased by 24 percent and 27 percent in the past two years, respectively. The geographical spread of LWE violence has also been constricted and the districts reporting violence also reduced from 96 (2010) to 45 (2022).

The vacuum areas have been shrinking and since 2019, around 195 new camps of the CAPFs have been established and 44 new camps will be established. The ex-gratia amount for the victims of LWE has been increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh in the year 2017 and now it has been further increased to Rs 40 lakh. The Central Government has launched more than 14,000 projects under the Special Central Assistance (SCA) scheme to accelerate development in the districts most affected by Left Wing Extremism.

On the development front, apart from flagship schemes the Government of India (GoI) has taken several specific initiatives in LWE affected States, with special thrust on expansion of road network, improving Telecom connectivity, skill development and financial inclusion. Around 13,324 km of roads have been constructed in the LWE affected areas. 2,324 mobile towers have been installed in phase I of the mobile tower project.

Under phase II, 2,542 mobile towers are under installation. Since April 2015, 927 bank branches, 944 ATMs and 27,513 banking correspondents have been made available in the 30 most LWE affected districts. Around 4,903 new post offices have been opened in 90 districts during the last 8 years. In order to ensure skill development, 43 ITIs and 38 skill development centers have been made functional in LWE affected districts.

Source: Press Information Bureau

The highest number (481) of incidents of killing were reported in 2010 as it was one of the worst years affected by the naxal insurgency. Seventy Six CRPF policemen were killed in a naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada in 2010. This is one of the deadliest attacks carried out by the naxalites in the 21st century. The year 2010 also registered the highest number of civilian casualties as 630 lost their lives due to naxal violence. The highest number of security forces were killed in 2009 as 319 security personnel lost their lives. Highest numbers of naxals (343) were killed in 2006.

Source: Ministry of Home Affairs

The districts reporting LWE related violence incidents reduced from 96 in 2010 to 45 in 2022. The number of Police Stations reporting LWE related violence incidents also reduced from 465 in 2010 to 176 in 2022. It should be noted that though the naxal violence has decreased in the past few years, there are some strongholds where naxals continue to dominate. They have also been regularly indulging in violence against security forces.

From a peak of 465 Police Stations of 96 districts in 2010 to just 191 Police Stations of 46 districts reporting LWE-related violence in 2021, the geographic distribution of violence has dramatically decreased over time. Seventy-three police stations from 333 districts reported LWE violence in 2014. The fewer districts included in the SRE Scheme is another indication of the decline in geographical dispersion. From 126 to 90 SRE districts in April 2018 and then to 70 in July 2021, the number of SRE districts decreased. In a similar vein, the number of districts that account for over 90 percent of LWE violence—dubbed the Most LWE Affected Districts—dropped from 35 in 2018 to 25 in 2021.

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