State sees decline in Naxal violence in last three years

Officials attribute relative calm to holistic approach towards combating extremism

Published - August 05, 2018 12:51 am IST

Mumbai: Left wing extremism (LWE) has been on the decline in Maharashtra over the past three years with fewer deaths. The latest data from the department of Home Affairs shows the threats to prominent State politicians from Naxals could have been overblown.

The violence came down from 73 incidents with 23 casualties in 2016 to 69 cases with 16 fatalities in 2017. So far in 2018, 44 incidents related to the extremism have been reported with five deaths.

Maharashtra is one of the least affected among major States. While Chhattisgarh has reported 222 incidents this year, there have been 109 incidents in Jharkhand, 61 in Telangana, 56 in Odisha, and 33 in Bihar, the data reveals.

Earlier this year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had received two threatening letters following the government’s anti-Naxal operations in Gadchiroli district. Additionally, the Pune Police had claimed they had intercepted an internal Naxal communication about a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type incident’.

Officials said the relative calm has been achieved as a result of the holistic approach towards combating the LWE, wherein it has supplemented the efforts of the States over a wide range of measures.

“A national and State plan has been put in place which envisages a multi-pronged strategy involving security measures, developmental interventions, and ensuring rights and entitlements of local communities. Recently, the government has approved a special Central assistance scheme with an outlay of ₹1,000 crore per annum for three years for the most-affected LWE districts to cover gaps in critical infrastructure and services,” the government note said.

Officials clarified threats remain in Maharashtra. Thirty-seven VIPs, police officers, and informers had featured on a Naxal elimination list issued in 2016. “The threats heightened in 2009 and 2016 after the police action had led to heavy casualties and surrender of several Naxals. In 2014, the Maharashtra police executed 173 anti-Naxal operations and 237 in 2015,” a senior official said.

By the end of 2015, officials said, the government was convinced that Naxals had suffered a huge setback. The drop in activity was attributed to internal factors such as health problems, love affairs, internal rifts, and sexual exploitation.

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