Friday, August 17, 2007

State terror fuels maoist backlash

NEW DELHI: Naxalite violence is on the upswing in Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar, even as the worst-hit state of Chhattisgarh has shown an improvement both in terms of incidents as well as casualties till July this year as compared to 2006.

According to statistics on Left-wing extremism presented in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, in reply to a question, overall Naxalite violence has seen a marginal rise at 971 incidents till July 2007 against 967 incidents in the corresponding period of last year. Fatal casualties, however, are lower at 431 than the 491 recorded in 2006.

While civilian killings by Naxalite cadres have fallen from 390 till July 2006 to 266 this year, security forces killed are higher at 165 this year as against 101 till July 2006. The figure so far is even higher than the force personnel killed in the whole of 2006 (157).

The high bodycount among security forces this year is largely due to the single major Naxalite attack this March on a security camp in Rani Bodli village in Chattisgarh, which killed 55 Chattisgarh Armed Force personnel and SPOs.

However, Chhattisgarh on the whole has been able to somewhat arrest the Naxal upsurge that has rocked it in the wake of Salwa Judum movement. While incidents have fallen from 453 till July 2006 to 399 in the corresponding period of this year, deaths too are down at 259 from 306 last year.

The new problem areas, however, are Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar. In Jharkhand, incidents are up from 191 till July last year to 259 this year, even as deaths have declined marginally from 75 to 71. Orissa, which has this year witnessed higher Naxal activity given the CPI(Maoist) latest strategy to oppose industrial projects threatening displacement of local tribals, has recorded 47 incidents till July 31, up from 29 last year. Even deaths have doubled from 6 in 2006 to 12 this year.

Bihar too has reported 87 violent incidents, up from 75 last year, and 39 deaths, up from 36 in 2006.

In Andhra Pradesh, though violence continues to be on the decline, deaths are slightly higher at 26 as compared to 24 till July 2006. Maharashtra too has witnessed 63 extremism-related incidents and West Bengal 12 incidents and 2 deaths.

Karnataka, interestingly, has recorded six incidents and five deaths as compared to no fatal casualties last year. Kerala, also a new entrant to the Naxal-hit club, has witnessed four incidents till July this year.

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