On Tuesday, Patil reviewed the Naxal situation in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. He asked the two State Governments to make use of paramilitary forces for operational purposes and not for normal law and order or static guard duties. The Central Government has already provided 13 battalions of paramilitary forces to Chhattisgarh and five to Jharkhand. Expressing concern over the slow pace of filling up of vacancies in the two states, Patil said the process required to be speeded up. The Home Minister expressed satisfaction at some successful anti-Naxalite operations carried out recently, and emphasized the need to follow a pro-active strategy in both the States. As the security establishment grapples with unbridled Naxalite violence in over a dozen states, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have earned the dubious distinction of accounting for 68.16 per cent of the total incidents and 76.42 per cent of the total casualties last year.
According to the estimates of Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), 144 persons including 27 civilians, 80 security forces and 37 alleged Naxalites have been killed during January-March 2007 in the Naxalite conflict. Out of these, 101 persons or 70 per cent were killed in Chhattisgarh. Latest official figures compiled till the end of November 2007 reveal that security forces suffered heavy casualties in the fight against the Maoists, as 214 personnel were killed compared to 133 during the same period in 2006.
Though the number of incidents of Naxal violence was 1,385 -- almost the same as 1,398 in 2006 -- the causalities suffered by civilians was less. While 418 civilians were killed till November 2007, the toll was 501 during 2006, reflecting a shift in the Maoists' strategy, a news website quoted Home Ministry sources, as saying.
Rather than targeting the people, the Naxalites have set their eyes on economic installations, with the Railways bearing the worst brunt in the badly affected states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, making senior officials in the security establishment sit up. The official admitted that reports continued to come in regarding attacks on police and police establishments and on certain types of infrastructure like rail and road transport and power transmission towers, as was witnessed in Chhattisgarh last year, creating maximum impact among the people.