Thursday, July 09, 2009

Maoists inflict more damages in 2009 over last year

9 Jul 2009, 0613 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Even though there has been a quiet on the terror front this year, Left-wing extremist violence continues to be a major headache for the
security agencies, having registered a rise of over 45% and 24% in incidents and deaths, respectively, in the first half of 2009 compared to the corresponding period of last year.

According to statistics furnished by minister of state for home Ajay Maken on Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha, incidents of Naxalite violence have soared to 1,128 till June 30 this year from 766 during the corresponding period last year.

Similarly, fatal casualties too have registered an increase from 368 in the first half of 2008 to 455 in 2009. Interestingly, as many as 1,591 incidents were recorded in the whole of 2008, as against 1,128 incidents already registered in the first six months of 2009.

Statewise, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa were the worst-hit and together accounted for 82.35% of the total incidents of Maoist violence and 77.58% of the resulting casualties.

Senior MHA officials attribute the rise in Left-wing extremist violence this year largely to the diversion of Central para-military forces from counter-Naxal operations to security duties for the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. A senior official pointed out that the Maoists took advantage of the security vacuum created by the departure of Central forces from Naxal-hit states to different parts of the country to keep guard over the April-May poll.

As per the statistics, Maharashtra was the state where Left-wing extremism grew most in percentage terms. While incidents in the first six months of 2009 were up by 300%, deaths rose by more than 600% over the corresponding levels in 2008.

Orissa too witnessed a rise in Naxalite violence, with incidents going up by over 25%, even though deaths slid from 72 till June 30, 2008, to 40 in 2009.

In absolute terms, Jharkhand recorded the highest number of incidents at 364, beating Chattisgarh which was the worst-hit state in the corresponding period of last year with 273 incidents. Until June 30, 2009, Chattisgarh had registered 285 incidents and 148 deaths. Jharkhand, however, had fewer deaths at 122 as compared to Chattisgarh this year.

Incidents in Bihar were up from 88 in the initial six months of 2008 to 118 this year, and deaths too rose from 35 to 43. West Bengal, which is now witnessing a major anti-Maoist operation in Lalgarh, too registered a rise in incidents from 26 last year to 56 this year, while deaths doubled from 17 to 34 till June 30 this year.

Andhra Pradesh continued to fare better in terms of extent of Left-wing extremist violence, recording just 34 incidents, down from 45 last year, and 10 deaths, down from 26 last year.

Meanwhile, replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Ajay Maken clarified that the Centre had no plans whatsoever to open direct talks with the Maoists, even though it welcomed in principle any initiative by the state government to start such a dialogue. However, he added, the Centre was not aware of any move by any state government to open a channel of communication with the Maoists.

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