New Delhi The number of districts affected by left-wing extremism (LWE) has declined sharply to 70 in 10 states for the first time in over three decades, with Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand showing the biggest improvement, according to a map of the Maoist insurgency redrawn by the ministry of home affairs.
Of these, only 25 districts in eight states are now categorised as “most affected”. Uttar Pradesh is now free of Maoism, according to the home ministry’s revised list, accessed by HT. Until two months back, about 90 districts in 11 states were affected by LWE which received central assistance under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) while 30 districts in seven states were categorised as “most affected”.
“Overall, the incidents of LWE violence have reduced by 70% from an all-time high of 2,258 in 2009 to 665 in 2020. Similarly, the deaths of security forces and civilians have come down by 80% from all time high of 1,005 in 2010 to 183 in 2020,” said an officer, requesting anonymity.
The home ministry, upon considering the improved security situation, reduced violence and development work, decided to revise the list from July 1. According to the list, only 70 districts in 10 states are affected and are covered under the SRE scheme. Under SRE, districts affected by left wing extremism get assistance from the Centre for the purpose of reimbursement of security-related expenditure such as transportation, communication, hiring of vehicles, stipend to surrendered Maoists, construction of infrastructure for the forces, etc.
People familiar with the development said the shrinkage of geographical spread of LWE influence is evident in reduced violence in the last six years (from 2015 to 2020), with 47% fewer incidents compared with the preceding 6 years (from 2009 to 2014).
Subsequently, security forces have opened multiple camps inside the jungles which used to be the stronghold of the Maoists, due to which insurgents are not able to carry out frequent attacks, over 2,300 mobile towers have been installed, close to 5,000km of roads have been constructed, and other infrastructure work is being carried out.
Former director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) K Durga Prasad said: “The recruitment of Maoists have come down, their leadership is old, and the party ideology is missing among the young cadres due to which the pockets of their activities have been restricted enormously over the years. There is also better intelligence sharing between agencies, disruption of logistics chains like weapons, money and food items and they are not able to recruit cadres from any state other than Chhattisgarh.”
According to the revised list, Bihar, where the Maoists once enjoyed widespread support among the poor, has shed the highest (six) number of districts in the latest list, with only 10 districts now affected by LWE as compared to 16 till June this year. Arwal, East Champaran, Jehanabad, Muzzafarpur, Nalanda and Vaishali are no longer affected by Maoism.
In Odisha, where the state government has a formidable anti-naxal force, the Special Operations Group (SOG), districts affected by Maoism have come down from 15 to 10. Similarly, Jharkhand has shown significant improvement with only 16 districts now affected by LWE against 19 till June. Koderma, Ramgarh and Simdega have been removed from the list. The most affected districts in the state have also come down from 13 to only 8.
Chhattisgarh, where the worst violence has been reported over the years, continues to have 14 affected districts.
There is no change in the LWE situation in Kerala and West Bengal, where three districts and one district, respectively, are affected by LWE; while Madhya Pradesh now has three affected districts as compared to two earlier.
Uttar Pradesh, which had three Maoist-affected districts – Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra – is now free of any kind of LWE-related incidents.
The government has, for the first time, classified eight districts as “districts of concern” on the basis of inputs from intelligence and security agencies that Maoists are making serious inroads there. These are – Wayanad in Kerala, Kabirdham, Kondagaon and Mungeli in Chhattisgarh, Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, Koraput in Odisha, Garhwa in Jharkhand and Aurangabad in Bihar