2018: How forces took the battle to the naxalites, but the fight is far from over
New Delhi, Dec 18: One of India's biggest security challenges are posed by the Naxalites. They are an internal threat with an external support, which makes the battle against them even more harder.
The year 2018, one could saw many hits and some misses in the battle against naxalites. Indian agencies say that the high number of surrenders this year is what was the highlight of the battle.
The surrenders, not only helped in reducing the strength of the naxalites, but their spread as well.
Moreover, those who surrendered have spoken extensively about how flawed the ideology of the naxalites has been. This has helped spread across a larger message, which in turn has reduced the number of new recruits.
From 2,258 incidents of naxalite violence in 2009 to around 190 in 2018, the fight against the naxals has been a successful one for the forces this year. The spread to has decreased considerably States reporting violence reduced from 10 (2013) to 9. Districts reporting violence reduced from 76 (2013) to 58. Police Stations reporting violence reduced from 330 (2013) to 291.
The data provided by the Union Home Ministry shows that between 2016 and 2018, 4,123 naxalites have been arrested. In the year 2016, the number of arrests carried out stood at 1,840 while in 2017 it was 1,888. The figures till March 15, 2018, suggests that the number of arrests made stood at 395.
In the month of March 2018, there were two major incidents reported from Odisha and the Chattisgarh-Telangana border. While three women cadres of the naxals were killed in the Odisha encounter, the one on the Telangana border on March 1 2018 saw the killing of six women naxalites. One Greyhound constable was however martyred in the attack.
In February the security forces managed to kill four naxalites- Rakesh Bhuiyan, Lallu Yadav, Rinki and Ruby. The encounter took place at Jharkhand.
The Home Ministry says that that a comparison of various statistics of left wing extremism related violence indicated a significant improvement. Incidents of violence reduced by 36.6% from 6524 to 4136. LWE related deaths decreased by 55.5% from 2428 to 1081. Elimination of LWE cadres increased by 14.6% from 445 to 510. Surrenders by LWE cadres increased by 143% from 1387 to 3,373. Security officials say that the mounting pressure is what is leading to such a large number of surrenders. Another important aspect is the reduction in the numbers of civilian casualties. 188 were reported in 2017 which is the lowest in the category since 1999.
The maximum number of civilians killed in naxalite violence was in 2010 when 720 deaths were reported. Data prepared by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SAT) suggested that the number districts from where fatalities were reported declined from 42 in 2016 to 40 in 2017.
The fight is far from over:
Security officials argue that while there has been a massive dip in the strength of the naxalites, the need to sustain the strategy is crucial. Any let up in the strategy could see the naxalites bouncing back. The Home Ministry says that it has introduced a host of measures to ensure that the naxalite menace is completely curbed. While security forces would continue to do the job on the ground, a host of reforms have also been introduced. A new scheme with an outlay of Rs. 3,000 crore (Rs. 1,000 crore per annum) has been introduced. Under the scheme funds will be provided to 35 most affected LWE districts to fill the critical gaps in public infrastructure and services, which are of emergent nature. Rs.175 crore has been released under the scheme in 2017-18.
An Empowered Committee was constituted under Additional Secretary (LWE) to monitor and guide developmental initiatives through co-ordination with various Central Ministries. Two committees have been formed in May 2017 for improving operational performance of forces in LWE areas. These are- Committee for use of Cutting Edge technologies in LWE Theatre. Committee for fixing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for LWE Theatre.
The committees have already submitted the reports. In order to enhance local representation among the security forces and also provide employment to local youth, a Bastariya Battalion has been raised.
743 Scheduled Tribes candidates from four most affected LWE districts of Chhattisgarh, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Sukma have been recruited. This figure includes 242 female candidates.