Maoists have killed about 10,500 people — policemen, security forces personnel and ordinary people — over the past eight years in seven states where they have a strong presence. They have killed more than 700 people so far this year, intelligence sources told HT.
Rao admitted that as long as their war is on, such “errors” would keep recurring. “But we have initiated steps towards minimising it,” he said.
The admission comes at a time when mainstream political parties in Maoist-affected states, especially West Bengal and Jharkhand, are crying foul against the extremist outfit for killing innocent party cadres and ordinary people.
“Killing of innocent people has spread a negative opinion about us in the urban middle class,” Rao said. But he said the Maoists have the support of 50 per cent people in the rural areas in states where the party has a strong presence support.
The Maoist leader said that when the movement spread, several lumpen elements joined the organisation but did not change their outlook. He said the organisation discarded them but they formed rebel outfits and resorted to looting.
“There are at least six such rebel organisations operating in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, which are tarnishing the CPI-Maoist image by killing innocent people. We will punish them,” he said.